The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will accept comments on the Northern Pass project, its draft Environmental Impact Statement and Supplement until April 4, 2016. This comment period is an opportunity for New Hampshire residents and other key stakeholders to formally submit their thoughts on the project to the DOE, either in person or in writing.
To keep people up-to-date on its permitting process, the DOE has set up a website specifically for the Northern Pass project (http://www.northernpasseis.us/). It includes the draft EIS, other public documents, and information on how to submit a comment. Because there is a vast amount of information on the DOE’s Northern Pass website, we’ve provided this short tutorial to help walk you through the commenting process.
You can quickly file a comment through the DOE’s online comment form. This page provides links to the Northern Pass draft EIS, as well as the DOE’s Section 106 Review. The draft EIS is a comprehensive study of the potential environmental impact of the project, as well as a number of alternatives routes reviewed by the DOE. The Section 106 Review is part of the overall federal permitting process and is required by the National Historic Preservation Act. It includes studies of the Northern Pass’ potential impact on New Hampshire’s cultural and historic resources, such as historic homes and iconic views.
You can also mail, email or phone in your comments directly to the DOE. Here’s how:
Commenting in person
The DOE is holding a series of public hearings on the Northern Pass project, which will include an opportunity to make an oral comment. Two of these events – Colebrook and Concord – will be conducted in conjunction with the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) and will serve as a public hearing for both agencies.
Colebrook (co-hosted with DOE)
Monday, March 7, 5 p.m.
Colebrook Elementary School
27 Dumont Street
Wednesday, March 9, 5 p.m.
Waterville Valley Conference & Event Center
56 Packards Road
Concord (co-hosted with DOE)
Thursday, March 10 at 5 p.m.
Grappone Conference Center
70 Constitution Ave
Friday, March 11, 5 p.m.
Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa
101 Mountain View Road
Other ways to comment
Northern Pass has also filed an application with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC). This is a separate process that includes opportunities for you to comment on the project. Click here if you’d like to learn more about how to submit your comment to the SEC.
In a letter to Department of Energy this week, the project offered its support to the recent request from the state’s Congressional Delegation for a preliminary report of the alternatives DOE will study as part of the federal permitting process.
As noted in the letter, we believe our proposed route is a sensible one that is respectful of the land and its neighbors and that will provide significant benefits to New Hampshire and New England. Various alternatives have been proposed and we believe an evaluation of the merits of these options, along with the economic implications of each, will be helpful as the permitting process moves forward.
The project’s letter to DOE is available in our document library.
What the project will look like and where it will be visible are among the most common questions we hear from residents and landowners. These discussions, unfortunately, are often subject to misinformation, speculation, and inaccurate conclusions of what the actual visual impact of the project will be.
Fortunately, a process is in place to provide clear, factual answers. The state and federal permitting process require professional view impact assessments produced by independent experts. The public deserves no less than a thorough analysis done by such experts, and based on accurate data.
We raise this issue because, yet again, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) is providing misleading information to the public about the potential visual impacts of the project. The AMC recently released a series of videos that claim to show the project’s visual impacts. In reality, the videos do not conform to any widely accepted visual assessment methodologies, and do not offer an accurate visual assessment of the project.
AMC suggests that the videos depict the “highest visual impacts” within a ½ mile of the project, with no qualification of the nature of that visibility, other than the potential number of structures visible. In accepted visual impact assessment methodologies, visibility alone is not considered to be an adverse or unacceptable impact. That determination is made by considering additional factors such as viewing distance, how much of the individual structures are visible, the height, type and color of those structures, the context within which the structures are viewed, and the sensitivity of the resource or viewing locations. In addition, no explanation was provided to indicate how “tower visibility” was determined or whether the video accounted for topography and tree heights (It did not).
Rather than provide this important data and analysis, the AMC video instead relies on generalities and overly broad assertions that are not supported by facts and ignore the methodologies commonly employed by visual experts.
It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that AMC has opted to again mislead the public on this issue. The organization has made its opposition to Northern Pass publicly known in many forums, and has used the project as a fundraising tool. The AMC has a clear bias and we believe it is incapable of providing a fair analysis of the project.
The federal and state permitting processes, which require Northern Pass to use professional visual experts and accepted methodologies, will provide the public with an accurate, clear, factual assessment of the visual impacts of the project.
Whether it is wind, solar, new transmission lines, or a power plant – all energy projects carry impacts of varying degrees. Northern Pass is no different, but the public consideration of the project’s impacts, including its tremendous energy, economic, and environmental benefits, must be based on facts.
A series of public meetings were held last month to give New Hampshire residents the chance to share their thoughts on the proposed Northern Pass transmission line project. These events, called scoping meetings, were just part of the ongoing public input process. Many people have already registered their comments through emails and letters. If you haven’t made an official comment on Northern Pass yet, you have just a few more weeks to do so.
From now until Nov. 5, the U.S. Department of Energy will accept written comments on the Northern Pass transmission line.
Here in New Hampshire residents have discussed both sides of this issue with friends, at the corner store and on the editorial pages of our local newspapers. Those discussions are now headed to the Department of Energy and our elected officials in the form of letters and emails. If you support Northern Pass and the clean energy, jobs and economic benefits it will bring New Hampshire, we ask you consider writing a letter to the Department of Energy, our governor and our Congressional delegation.
We understand many of you are busy and may not have much time to submit a comment. However, these letters don’t have to be lengthy; they can be a few short messages about why you favor the project. We appreciate any time and effort you make to show your support.
Below you will find the addresses for the Department of Energy, Gov. Maggie Hassan and our Congressional leaders. We ask you send a copy of your letter or email to everyone on this list to ensure our government and elected officials know that New Hampshire residents want to see more jobs, lower energy rates, more tax revenue and a cleaner energy future.
Northern Pass encourages supporters to let their voice be heard and we thank you again for whatever time you give.
Letters to the Department of Energy can be sent by mail, email, fax or through the online comment form
Senior Planning Advisor
Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE-20)
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20585
Gov. Maggie Hassan
Office of the Governor
State House, 107 North Main St.
Concord, NH 03301
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen
520 Hart SOB
Washington, D.C. 20510
Sen. Kelly Ayotte
144 Russell SOB
Washington, D.C. 20510
Rep. Ann McLane Kuster
137 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter
1530 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
The U.S. Department of Energy has been holding a series of public forums this week, called scoping meetings, as part of Northern Pass’ federal permitting process. Two meetings have already been held and the two remaining scoping meetings will be held tonight in Whitefield and tomorrow in Colebrook. These meetings are an important step for the project, but they are also just part of a long process of careful review and scrutiny Northern Pass must undergo before gaining approval.
In October 2010, Northern Pass filed its initial application for a Presidential Permit, which will allow Northern Pass to build a transmission line for the import of Québec hydropower across the Canadian border into the United States. Amendments to the application have been made since then, including one that outlines the new proposed Northern Pass route announced in June.
The DOE will conduct two evaluations, one on environmental impact and another on Northern Pass’ impact on energy reliability. For the Northern Pass, this will include a full Environmental Impact Statement as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The scoping meetings are focused on gathering information from the public, which will then be used to determine which issues should be studied as the DOE develops its Environmental Impact Statement, and ultimately whether to grant the permit.
The project also submitted an application for a Special Use Permit, which requires specific review of the portion of the proposed line that would travel along an existing 60-year-old utility corridor within the White Mountain National Forest.
Once the environmental analysis and evaluation of the electric reliability criteria is completed, the DOE must obtain a favorable recommendation from the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense before a permit may be issued.
As the Presidential permit process continues, Northern Pass will undergo another rigorous review before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee. This group of state officials is tasked with ensuring that Northern Pass is in the public’s best interest and that it is designed, built and operated in a manner that will protect and preserve New Hampshire’s high quality of life.
Both the state and federal permitting reviews are well-established methods designed by law to extensively examine new power generation and transmission projects. We hope to see a large number of people participate in the scoping meetings and are eager to keep the conversation going about the benefits Northern Pass will bring New Hampshire.
Last night the Department of Energy (DOE) held its first scoping meeting in Concord to collect public feedback about the project’s proposed route. We were pleased to see a broad and diverse coalition of supporters attend and voice their support for the clean, low-cost energy, hundreds of green jobs, and millions in new tax revenues Northern Pass will bring to New Hampshire.
Current and former state representatives and senators, business leaders, municipal officials, representatives from the labor community, along with regular New Hampshire citizens, were all among the large contingent of green and blue shirted supporters in attendance.
Since announcing or new, improved route in June, we’ve been working hard to reach out to residents and landowners across New Hampshire to discuss our proposal and answer their questions. Whether it has been at one of our community open houses, individual meetings with landowners, or at a presentation to a local community group, positive feedback and support for the project has been growing.
We understand the public permitting process is just beginning and look forward to the many opportunities in the future for more dialogue on our proposal and the many benefits it can bring to the state and region. We’d like to thank all those who attended and provided comments last night and we are committed to work with all residents, landowners, and stakeholders as the process continues.
People throughout New Hampshire will have the opportunity next week to share their thoughts about the Northern Pass project at a series of public forums, called scoping meetings. These meetings are hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the federal permitting process for Northern Pass.
Scoping Meetings Schedule:
•Monday, Sept. 23, from 6-9 p.m. – Concord: Grappone Conference Center, 70 Constitution Ave.
•Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 5-8 p.m. Plymouth: Plymouth State University Silver Center for the Arts, Hanaway Theater, 114 Main St.
•Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 5-8 p.m. – Whitefield: Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa, Presidential Room, 101 Mountain View Rd.
•Thursday, Sept. 26 from 5–8 p.m. – Colebrook: Colebrook Elementary School Gymnasium, 27 Dumont St.
If you wish to speak at a meeting, sign up with Brian Mills at the Department of Energy by calling (202) 586-8267 or by e-mail at Brian.Mills@hq.doe.gov. You can also sign up at the event.
What Happens at a Scoping Meeting
Following an open house type presentation by project representatives for the first 30 minutes of the meeting, a formal commenting session will be held where each speaker will be given three minutes to share their thoughts on the project. DOE allows for written comments as well, so if you can’t make a meeting, or prefer not to speak at a meeting, you can write a letter. Letters should be addressed to Brian Mills and can be mailed, faxed or emailed. Contact information, as well as a link to an online comment form, is on the Department of Energy’s website. Please note that all comments must be received by Nov. 5th.
For generations, New Hampshire residents have come together to discuss issues that are important to our state and communities. Please help us make sure all voices are heard by attending one of these meetings. We here at Northern Pass understand that your time is valuable and we appreciate any effort you make to contribute your comments.
The Department of Energy (DOE) announced today that it will hold four more public scoping meetings in September. These meetings are in addition to the seven previous public scoping meetings DOE held in 2011. See below for specific dates and locations, as posted on the DOE website:
DOE Issues Amended Notice of Intent
The Department of Energy has issued an amended Notice of Intent for the Northern Pass project announcing additional scoping meetings and the close of scoping. The Department will be holding the following additional scoping meetings:
For additional information, please view the Federal Register notice.
In related news, the project has submitted a revised Special Use Permit (SUP) Application to the U.S. Forest Service. This amendment to the project’s original application, submitted on June 28, 2011, requests authorization to construct the Northern Pass transmission line in portions of the White Mountain National Forest where a right-of-way and transmission lines already exist.
The existing corridor within the WMNF was developed more than 60 years ago in order to supply electricity to areas north of the forest. From the DOE website:
The U.S. Forest Service—White Mountain National Forest, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)—New England District, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—Region 1 (New England) are cooperating agencies in the preparation of the EIS.
The EIS will provide the analysis to support a Forest Service decision on whether to issue a special use permit within the White Mountain National Forest. The responsible official for the Forest Service is the Forest Supervisor for the White Mountain National Forest.
The revised application and accompanying exhibits are available in our document library.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Northern Pass last week entered into a memorandum of understanding with a new team of environmental consultants to lead the environmental impact statement process for the project as required by the National Environmental Policy Act .
The SE Group will lead an expert team of consultants. The SE Group has been involved in the preparation of hundreds of NEPA documents over a period of more than 30 years. Supporting the SE Group will be Ecology and Environment, Inc and Lucinda Low Swartz.
Ecology and Environment, Inc. brings 40 years of experience in the environmental review of transmission and other large, linear projects. Lucinda Low Swartz is a former Deputy General Counsel of the Counsel on Environmental Quality and is a nationally recognized expert on NEPA compliance.
The SE Group was selected as part of a through search process that included identifying candidates with no current or prior activity that might be deemed a conflict of interest. The SE Group and its team are expected to commence work promptly.
A notice published today in the Federal Register announces that the U.S. Department of Energy has extended the comment, or “scoping,” period for the project.
The extension is in anticipation of a new route being identified for the area from Groveton to the international border with Canada. We acknowledged in a filing in April that we will work to identify a route in that area that has support of property owners.
The scoping period extension allows us to continue that work. In its extension notice, the DOE indicated that the scoping/comment period will remain open for at least 45 days following the filing of a new route.