It was a big year for Northern Pass. In 2015, we announced the Forward NH Plan and a unveiled a redesigned route that includes underground along roads in and around the White Mountain National Forest and Franconia Notch region. The plan has nearly $4 billion in benefits for New Hampshire and the region, including reduced energy costs, increased tax revenues for New Hampshire communities, a $2.1 billion boost to the state economy and the creation of 2,400 jobs.
Northern Pass also filed its application with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), the state’s siting authority for significant energy projects. We held five Public Information Sessions where residents learned more about the project and submitted comments to the SEC, and we met with municipalities and residents along the route throughout the fall, answering their questions and gathering their feedback.
As the year comes to a close and we prepare for 2016, we wanted to look at the milestones Northern Pass has already reached, and also provide you with information about the next steps the project will take.
January 29: The Coös County Jobs Creation Association announces its members made up of local residents and business owners.
March 26: Northern Pass partners with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create the $3 million Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife. The program aims to protect and restore healthy forests and rivers throughout the state through grants to local organizations doing work to sustain local habitats.
July 21: The Department of Energy releases its draft Environmental Impact Statement, examining the potential impact the project could have on the environment and economy. It shows overall potential visual impact of the project will be low to very low, that Northern Pass will generate $564 million in economic output during construction, and will reduce regional carbon emissions by 8 percent.
August 18: Northern Pass announces the Forward NH Plan, which includes 52 additional miles of underground line, for a total of 60 miles underground, and nearly $4 billion in benefits.
August 31: Hydro-Québec and Eversource Energy reaffirm their commitment to bring clean, competitively-priced electricity to New Hampshire and the region.
September 2-10: Northern Pass held a series of pre-application Public Information Sessions in all five counties where the project will be located as part of our SEC filing process.
October 19: Northern Pass files its application with the SEC.
November 12: The U.S. Department of Energy releases a supplement to the draft Environmental Impact Statement, which focused on the portions of the route that include additional underground lines.
December 7: The SEC votes unanimously that the Northern Pass application is complete.
December 18: The SEC issues a written order officially deeming the Northern Pass application complete and moving the project forward in the state permitting process.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) process will continue with five post-application Public Information Sessions in January.
The Department of Energy will also host a series of public hearings where residents can comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement on Northern Pass. The times and locations will be announced soon.
Public Invited to Attend Workshops on the State Process and Criteria for Siting Energy Facilities
During the first two weeks of December, the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (OEP) will be holding five workshops around the state to gather input from the public on the processes and criteria used by the state’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) to determine whether to permit the construction and operation of energy facilities. These include wind generation projects, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission lines. This is an extremely complicated technical and legal issue that needs an informed discussion about how the SEC has performed over the years, how other states address the siting of energy projects, and what the possible repercussions of any potential changes would mean for the state’s energy future.
Northern Pass is just one project that could be affected by changes in the siting process and criteria. All energy projects proposed in the future may be caught up in such a change as well, a change which could have a ripple effect on jobs, energy costs and economic development for years to come. While this issue is complicated, your voice is important to effectively shape New Hampshire’s energy future. We ask you to consider attending one of the citizen workshops listed below. If you’d like to learn more about these workshops or want to attend, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workshops begin with sign-in at 5 p.m., and discussion begins at 6 p.m. They will end at approximately 9:30 p.m. Space is limited to 150-200 people depending on the site. You must pre-register to participate, and you may only sign up for one location.
To REGISTER for a Citizen Workshop: click here
December 3: Manchester Memorial High School Cafeteria
December 4: Groveton High School Gymnasium
December 5: Keene Recreation Center
December 9: Town of Newington Main Hall
December 10: Plymouth Regional High School in Plymouth
Why is this important?
Northern Pass must obtain a number of state and federal permits before it can begin construction. One of these permits is a Certificate of Site and Facility, which grants state authority to proposed energy facilities to move forward. This certificate is given by the Site Evaluation Committee.
The SEC was formed in 1971 by the Legislature to regulate the siting of large electric generating stations and transmission lines. It reviews a developer’s financial, technical and managerial ability to construct and operate a project. It also considers whether the project’s development would unduly interfere with “orderly development of the region” or have an “unreasonable adverse effect” on a number of factors, including historic sites, air and water quality, and the public health and safety.
Northern Pass will bring 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower into New Hampshire through a 300 kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line, so it must go before the Site Evaluation Committee for approval. This is expected to happen sometime in 2014.
This well-established process is facing changes because of a bill passed earlier this year aimed at overhauling the system.
Senate Bill 99, also known as SB 99, required the Office of Energy and Planning to hire an outside consulting group to generate reports on the SEC process and its energy facility siting criteria. The consultants were not hired until the end of September and are required to produce two full reports by the end of the year. We feel this is an unrealistic timeline for such a complex and critical undertaking.
The SB 99 citizen workshops have been scheduled as part of this process and are being widely advertised. People are being asked to come and answer questions on complex regulatory topics before the questions that will be asked have even been written. This approach is flawed; more time is needed for the consultants to do an adequate job for any useful information to come out of the workshops.
We have no issue with reviewing government regulations, especially in light of the recent Business Industry Association report calling for a streamlined SEC process. But at a time when clean sources of power are needed in New England, it is troubling that SB 99 could result in making the process harder for all energy projects, including Northern Pass. We feel that both New Hampshire and the SEC process are not well-served by a SB 99 process that lacks sufficient time, resources, and expertise in the siting process. The discussion should also provide a meaningful perspective on energy supply issues that are of critical importance to New Hampshire.
What’s at stake?
As it stands, the Legislature’s deadlines, and the efforts of the OEP and its consultants to meet those deadlines, have created a dilemma for those who support a strong and stable energy future for New Hampshire. How do we work within a flawed process and avoid a situation that could produce unreliable data from these workshops, and which would then would then be used by legislators who are determined to prevent the construction of energy projects in New Hampshire?
That is why people with a wide range of opinions should be present at these workshops – not just people opposed to energy projects – to give the state the information it needs to determine whether New Hampshire should change the siting process that has served it well for many years.
The purpose of SB 99 is to review New Hampshire’s current permitting process for energy facility projects, but it has the potential to adversely change the way in which energy projects are sited in New Hampshire. Despite many siting professionals’ opinions that New Hampshire’s current process works well, opponents of energy projects see SB 99 as an opportunity to create new regulatory hurdles to stop energy development in New Hampshire. Permitting is a major aspect of any energy project, and adding additional costs, time and regulatory uncertainty has the effect of driving away energy development in our state.
The SB 99 consultant responsible for carrying out the studies is surveying New Hampshire citizens about their views on energy development and permitting. Your opinion is very important to ensure that permitting of energy projects remains fair and considers the views of all New Hampshire citizens – not just those that oppose energy projects.
The project yesterday concluded a successful series of 14 open house events.
The final open house drew several dozen interested residents of Sugar Hill, Easton and neighboring towns to the Sunset Hill Inn in Sugar Hill. The open houses were focused on providing information to residents and landowners specifically regarding the project as proposed in their area.
About midway through last night’s event, A group of project opponents asked that we change the format of the open house to something similar to a town hall meeting. For our part, we indicated we would be willing to participate at such an event in the future, but that we were committed to the more personal, one-on-one format we’ve used, and has been received well, in every other town along the route. While no individuals were asked to leave, a number of attendees announced their opposition to the project and chose at that time to leave the open house.
Good and productive conversations continued with those residents who chose to remain. Our thanks to the residents, and to the innkeepers at the Sunset Hill Inn, for their hospitality. We look forward to additional opportunities in the future to talk about how we can work together to ensure that the project is the best possible for New Hampshire and the region.
Project representatives will be heading to Sugar Hill this week to meet with residents and landowners at another Northern Pass open house. This event will give residents an opportunity to speak with project representatives, including engineers, property tax analysts and environmental experts. Local officials and residents are encouraged to attend. Materials and visual simulations specific to the Sugar Hill area will be available.
Sugar Hill Open House
Wednesday, Oct. 23
Sunset Hill House
231 Sunset Hill Road
Drop by anytime between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm
For the past few months, we’ve been visiting towns along the project’s proposed route to provide residents and landowners with detailed information about the project and to answer their questions. We’ve provided visual simulations of where the lines will be located as well as information about structure design, increased tax revenue, and jobs.
At all the events, we’ve also gathered feedback from residents, local officials and landowners. Northern Pass representatives appreciate the respectful conversations we have had throughout our open house series and look forward to continuing the dialogue this week in Sugar Hill.
Northern Pass will continue to meet with residents and landowners along the proposed transmission line route this week at another one of our open houses.
Pembroke and Allenstown
St. John The Baptist Parish Hall
10 School Street
Suncook, NH 03275
Drop in anytime between 5:30 and 7:30 PM
Northern Pass open houses have been an opportunity to meet with people, talk to them about the project benefits and to answer their questions. Residents of Pembroke and Allenstown will have the chance this week to speak with project representatives, including engineers and environmental experts. They can learn about job opportunities, view visual simulations and ask questions about everything from structure design to line location.
Like all towns and cities along the proposed route, Pembroke and Allenstown will see an increase in property tax revenue from the project. Residents will also benefit from the added taxes Northern Pass will pay Merrimack County and toward state education. In addition to these benefits, Northern Pass will bring 1,200 megawatts of clean, low cost Canadian hydropower to New Hampshire and the region, enough to power 1 million homes. The project is expected to create 1,200 jobs during construction, $28 million annually in new tax revenue and reduce energy costs for New Hampshire customers by $20 million to $35 million annually.
Northern Pass representatives will have more information on hand about these benefits at the upcoming open houses. If you would like to learn more about these upcoming events, visit the open house page on our website
The Northern Pass team will continue to meet with residents and landowners along the proposed route next week at two open house events.
Tuesday, October 8 – Deerfield
American Legion Hougue-Batchelder Post 103
37 North Road – Deerfield, NH
Thursday, October 10 – Franklin/Hill/Northfield
Franklin Elks Lodge No. 1280
190 Central Street – Franklin, NH
Drop in anytime between 5:30 and 7:30 PM
Open houses are part of the project’s commitment to working with communities and residents to answer and address questions about the project. Up until now, many of our open houses have been held in the northern part of the state. These events next week give people who live in central and southern New Hampshire an opportunity to speak one-on-one with project representatives, including engineers and environmental experts. They can learn about job opportunities, view visual simulations and ask questions about everything from structure design to line location.
Northern Pass will bring 1,200 megawatts of clean, low cost Canadian hydropower to New Hampshire and the region, enough to power 1 million homes. The project is expected to create 1,200 jobs during construction, $28 million in new tax revenue and reduce energy costs for New Hampshire customers by $20 million to $35 million annually. Like all towns and cities along the proposed route, Deerfield, Franklin, Hill and Northfield will see an increase in property tax revenue from the project. Based on 2011 property tax rates, Deerfield could see more than $1 million in additional revenue, while Franklin could see more than $6 million.
Northern Pass representatives will have more information on hand about these benefits at the upcoming open houses. If you would like to learn more about these upcoming events, visit the open house page on our website.
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.
Northern Pass representatives during the past month have met with hundreds of New Hampshire resident at our open houses. We have gone from Pittsburg to Concord, answering questions and offering information to people who live in towns along the proposed 187-mile transmission line route.
As we look ahead to the fall, we see there are still many opportunities for you to ask us questions and to speak with us about the project. This week, Northern Pass will host two open houses, in Campton and Ashland. The Campton open house, which is being held for residents of Campton, Thornton and Woodstock, will be this evening at the Days Inn Campton on Daniel Webster Highway. The Ashland open house will be tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the Ashland Legion Post 15 on Main Street. It is for residents of Ashland Bristol, Bridgewater, Holderness and New Hampton, but like our previous open house events, all those looking to ask questions and discuss the project are welcome to attend. Guests are welcome to stop by at any time between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The Northern Pass hosts these open houses to give residents and landowners a chance to speak one-on-one with project engineers, environmental experts and other project representatives. We’ve heard questions about where the route is located, what the transmission line will look like and the kind of jobs Northern Pass will create for New Hampshire residents. It is part of the project’s commitment to working with all communities along the route and addressing their questions about the project.
Next week, Northern Pass will be the subject of four U.S. Department of Energy scoping meetings. These public forums are a chance for all residents to speak about the Northern Pass project and submit their comments as part of the federal permitting process. Recently, one of the meetings was moved from Stewartstown to Colebrook, so here is an updated list of all the scoping meetings:
• Concord: Grappone Conference Center, 70 Constitution Ave. on Monday, Sept. 23, from 6-9 p.m.
• Plymouth: Plymouth State University Silver Center for the Arts, Hanaway Theater, 114 Main St. on Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 5-8 p.m.
• Whitefield: Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa, Presidential Room, 101 Mountain View Rd. on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 5-8 p.m.
• Colebrook: Colebrook Elementary School Gymnasium, 27 Dumont St. on Thursday, Sept. 26 from 5–8 p.m.
Supporters of Northern Pass are invited to speak at these scoping meetings or submitting written comments to ensure the Department of Energy hears the voices of those who want to see clean energy, jobs and more tax revenue come to the state. You can find more information about the meetings, how to sign up to speak and where to submit written comments on the DOE website.