Aerial patrols by helicopter will be conducted, weather permitting, April 3 – 5 over existing PSNH rights of way within the Northern Pass project area.
The patrols are part of the a routine vegetation maintenance program to ensure reliable delivery of energy.
In his State of the State address today, NH Governor John Lynch reiterated his support to bring more renewable energy to New Hampshire, and mentioned The Northern Pass specifically.
From his prepared remarks:
“We should not dismiss out of hand hydro power from Canada. We should be open to exploring approaches for accessing this power,” Governor Lynch said. “But the proponents of Northern Pass need to listen better. This project cannot happen without local support. And it should not happen with eminent domain.
We agree with Governor Lynch that New Hampshire needs to diversify its power sources and bring more renewable energy to the state.
The Northern Pass will bring that diversity, in the form of renewable energy that actually helps reduce energy costs here and across New England.
We amended our project application last year, after listening to public concerns, and we are now working successfully with property owners to purchase land or easements to develop an acceptable route in that area of the North Country where there is no existing transmission right of way.
The project currently has property rights to the vast majority of the land necessary for building the transmission line within existing rights of way, and we reiterate our position that The Northern Pass is not predicated on the use of eminent domain.
We’ve heard reports that presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, supports the concept of The Northern Pass but has voiced concern about some aspects, specifically – above ground structures in the area north of Groveton, NH, where transmission rights of way do not currently exist.
We appreciate Speaker Gingrich’s suggestion that the project be placed underground in some areas. While our studies show that may not be sensible using traditional underground technology, we are continuing our research.
PSNH has been working for months to minimize the visual impact of overhead construction and we will continue to work to find a route which is acceptable to the State given the input and advice we have received to date.
The next President will face a number of decisions regarding energy development, from electric transmission and natural gas transmission to oil pipelines, and certainly it sets a poor precedent for candidates to make decisions on these projects before they are finalized.
This is a good reminder that The Northern Pass is still in the very early stages of a rigorous federal and state review process. Our project will continue to evolve as the multi-year permitting process continues.
We look forward to continue working collaboratively with many individuals, communities and agencies to complete a project that will deliver jobs, lower energy costs, and clean renewable that will significantly reduce emissions of carbon,
The sale of The Balsams Resort by the Neil Tillotson Trust to Balsams View LLC has been completed. Northern Pass is pleased that the future of the Balsams Resort is secure and that the new owners are committed to maintaining the 300 jobs and tremendous economic value the Resort brings to the North Country. We look forward to working with them in the future, and wish them well in their efforts to renovate and re-open the resort.
Unrelated to the sale of the hotel, we recently asked the Attorney General to reject the pending and separate sale of a small utility right of way in the northern tip of the property by the Tillotson Trust to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. (We did not raise any question about — and we support fully — the conveyance of a conservation easement to the Forest Society.)
Our inquiry to the Attorney General was based on our belief that the project’s use of the utility right of way can co-exist with a conservation easement over the surrounding land, and together provide significant value to the Tillotson Trust that can be redistributed to the residents and communities in the North Country for essential health, social and economic services. We also believe that the project’s use of the utility right of way would have less impact than the Trust’s own transmission easement across the Balsams Resort property for future wind farm development. Northern Pass had previously submitted an offer for use of this utility right of way.
Following our inquiry with the Attorney General, we learned that the Forest Society was only interested in purchasing the conservation easement if the utility right of way was included. In response to the Forest Society’s publicly-stated position and to address the possibility that the conservation easement might be lost, Northern Pass submitted a new offer to the Trust to purchase the conservation easement over the 5,800 acres of land surrounding the resort as well as the utility right of way. We are supportive of efforts to conserve this property as it ensures future generations can enjoy the beauty and recreational opportunities of the land, which is consistent with the vision and work of the Tillotson Trust. This offer would have provided the Trust with more than $3 million to support its charitable activities in the North Country and would ensure the 5,800 acres of land surrounding the resort are conserved.
The Attorney General has since approved the sale of the conservation easement and power line right of way to the Forest Society. Northern Pass is in the process of reviewing the Attorney General’s decision. We are disappointed for the citizens of the North Country who could have benefitted from the much needed services the additional value our offer would have provided.
The Northern Pass project today notified the Neil Tillotson Trust that it is willing to purchase the conservation easement over much of the property of “The Balsams,” if a sale of the easement to The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF) doesn’t occur.
The SPNHF recently said it will not pursue the easement if it cannot also obtain the rights to a utility right-of-way easement across the property as well. In light of SPNHF’s position, and because Northern Pass is committed to the conservation of the Balsams property, we have extended an offer to purchase the conservation easement in addition to the utility easement.
In a letter to the chair of the Trust, Northern Pass said it will purchase the easement for $850,000. The offer also includes provisions of the initial offer from Northern Pass to the Trust to purchase the utility right-of-way for $2 million and provide a $200,000 payment to support medical services at the Colebrook Hospital. In total, the offer will provide more than $3 million to the Tillotson Trust for charitable purposes. If the offer is accepted, Northern Pass would then look to find an appropriate partner committed to conserving the Balsams to hold the conservation easement over the more than 5,600 acres of land.
We believe that the project’s purchase of the utility right-of-way easement can co-exist with a conservation easement over the surrounding land, and together maximize revenue to the Tillotson Trust that can be redistributed to the residents and communities in the area for essential health, social and economic services—in keeping with the Trust’s objectives.
This offer and the project’s previous request to the Attorney General regarding the sale of the utility right of way on the Balsams property to SPNHF has no impact on the completed sale of the Balsams Resort and more than 7,000 acres of land. Northern Pass is pleased that the future of the Balsams Resort is secure and that the new owners are committed to maintaining the 300 jobs and tremendous economic value the resort brings to the North Country. We look forward to working with them in the future, and wish them well in their efforts to renovate and re-open the resort.
This week we asked the Attorney General’s office to reject a portion of a proposed agreement between the Neil Tillotson Trust and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.
Specifically, while we wholeheartedly support the proposed conservation easement on about 5,800 acres of land that the Trust recently sold to two area businessmen, we asked the AG to reject that portion of the proposal that grants to the Forest Society an interest in a 300 foot right of way that has been identified for possible use as a corridor for a power line.
We pointed out to the AG that the project provided to the Trust a Letter of Intent to pay the Trust $2.2 million for the right of way.
We believe that the Trust would achieve a much better deal if it granted the conservation easement and accepted our proposal that concerns only the use of the right of way.
We also pointed out that the Trust itself has reserved a permanent easement for the possible construction of transmission lines anywhere on the property, in order to connect to wind farm parcels that are owned by the Trust. (See page 2, Nr. 4. of the Deed.) These parcels are in areas that are much more visible to the public, compared to the right of way Northern Pass is interested in, and would likely have a far greater impact.
There’s news today of an agreement for the sale of the Balsams Hotel and its surrounding 7,000 acres of land.
As part of our ongoing discussions with landowners in northern New Hampshire, The Northern Pass project did participate in the Request For Proposals developed by the Tillotson Foundation for the sale of its land assets.
We put forward a good faith offer for one of the land parcels; an offer that we felt was consistent with our goal of developing a project route with minimal impact.
Ultimately, this reported sale involves only one of the many landowners we are currently working with. Over the past several months the project had made significant progress in our effort to develop a route that has the support of landowners, and we will continue that process.
Some concern has been expressed regarding the potential impact of the project on neighboring properties.
The Sunday Monitor (Concord, NH) on July 24 published an article focused on this issue.
Included is a reference to this Preliminary Study, which is an examination of sales of property in Deerfield and Littleton, NH that are along existing transmission lines.
From the Preliminary Study:
“…Based on the preliminary analysis contained herein, there is no market evidence in either Deerfield or Littleton that would indicate diminution of property value due to high voltage transmission lines…”
The preliminary study results are similar to what previous studies have found, as revealed in a recent review:
“…The majority of the literature reviewed — covering 50 or more studies conducted over several decades in a variety of settings by several dozen researchers using a variety of techniques– finds that High Voltage Transmission Lines (HVTLs) have a modest or no measurable impact on property values. Many of the studies find no impact and those that do find an impact generally find that the impact is under 10% and that it diminishes quickly as distance from the transmission corridor increases…”
Perhaps the entire issue is best summed up in this passage from the review of studies:
“…The concern of potentially impacted landowners is understandable. Few would be indifferent to
the introduction of an adjacent HVTL. But the question posed in the research is not whether
people are indifferent to HVTLs, but rather—does the impact rise to the level of having a
consistent, major, measurable impact on property values? The majority of the research
examined in this literature review indicates it does not…”
The existing corridor within the WMNF was developed more than 60 years ago in order to supply electricity to areas north of the forest. It includes an area of about six miles in length, pursuant to an existing Special Use Permit; as well as about four miles of existing private easements.
While the filing outlines a preliminary design for the inclusion of The Northern Pass transmission line, it acknowledges that the process is dynamic, and modifications may indeed occur as the permitting process evolves:
“…nothing about this design or Proposed Use should be viewed as final. Northern Pass anticipates that the Project’s design may change through the National Environmental Policy Act process that will allow a robust dialogue among the USFS, DOE, stakeholders, other interested persons and Northern Pass…”
NPT SUP Application
The filing notes, for example, that the project can likely be located within the existing 150 wide transmission corridor, but that structure heights can be reduced if the corridor were widened or if the “span length” between structures were reduced (i.e. reduced height but more structures).
Going forward, we expect to work closely with the Forest Service and other interested parties to minimize impacts to the White Mountain National Forest.