Some New Hampshire residents recently received a letter from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (the Forest Society) asking them to “give generously” to fight the current Northern Pass transmission line project. This campaign aims to raise $475,000 to fund further opposition to the project.
There is inaccurate information about the project that we felt an obligation to clarify so that residents can fully evaluate the facts associated with Northern Pass.
This recent fundraising letter misrepresents the actual Northern Pass route and leaves out important details about the project:
While we are disappointed that the public is receiving inaccurate information about this important clean energy project, we appreciate the opportunity to correct these misrepresentations via our website, Facebook page, and the many face-to-face meetings we are having across New Hampshire. A comprehensive public permitting process is underway at the federal level, and a state process will soon begin here in New Hampshire. Both of these review processes will consider the facts associated with the proposed project, solicit public input, and determine whether the Northern Pass project satisfies the siting requirements outlined by the Department of Energy and the New Hampshire siting laws governing new energy projects.
As the New Year approaches, we are pleased to report that we have identified a new route in the North Country that we will submit to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Commission in the future for consideration and review. We are in the process of finalizing this new proposal and will soon be prepared to announce its specific details. This proposal was created in consideration of concerns raised regarding potential view impacts and private property issues. In response to the feedback we received, we have spent the past year identifying routing options that would locate the line on land that we own or that has easements we have obtained from willing sellers, and positions the line in a manner that reduces potential view shed impacts as much as possible.
We also recognize that while we are communicating with local citizens, stakeholders and public officials across New Hampshire, there is still much that can be done. We believe this communication and dialogue is critical to the ultimate success of the new route and the project overall and felt it was necessary to take some additional time to continue these efforts before we publicly announce the new routing proposal.
Some notable project improvements thus far include the improved structure design along the White Mountain National Forest portion of the route, enabling the project to reduce structure heights to approximately 85 feet, with no expansion of the existing right of way. Additionally, structures along the new right-of-way portion of the route will also be approximately 85 feet.
We are appreciative of the positive support we have received from all across the state, and are very proud to have the full endorsement of the two largest Chambers of Commerce in New Hampshire (Manchester and Nashua). Our recent jobs meetings in Coös County were an enormous success, and we look forward to resuming those meetings in the new year, along with informational outreach meetings across the state.
We are optimistic that our new routing proposal addresses the potential view shed and private property concerns that have been raised, and will enable us to move forward with the rigorous state and federal permitting processes. Those proceedings will serve as inclusive forums for the continued evolution of the project, providing a true measure and analysis of the benefits and impacts of the Northern Pass, as well as the opportunity for project improvements to be recommended and incorporated.
Last summer The Northern Pass Transmission project (NPT) filed an application with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), outlining its proposed use of an existing transmission corridor within the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF). The application detailed a preliminary design for the inclusion of the NPT line, while also noting that the project’s design could change based on evolving engineering data and ongoing dialogue with the USFS, the Department of Energy, and other stakeholders.
Since filing our initial application with the USFS, NPT engineers have continued to gather and assess data in an effort to refine and improve the proposed design. As a result of these efforts over the past year, the NPT team has been able to significantly lower proposed structure heights.
The submittal of this proposed redesign serves as a formal update to our application before the USFS. The proposed structure design has been lowered to a typical height of 85 feet for areas in the WMNF. As before, this new design can safely be sited within the existing 150 foot right-of-way without the need for widening.
The lower structure heights are a result of installing horizontally configured structures, with V-String insulators, instead of using the vertical structures. A V-String design reduces the spacing requirements associated with horizontal designs (see structure depiction on the right side of the attached graphic). In other words, a V-String design minimizes how much an insulator can move in windy conditions, which keeps the transmission line a safe distance from the edge of the right-of-way.
NPT is pleased to announce this proposed redesign as a positive step forward in ensuring the transmission corridor in the WMNF can continue to co-exist with the Forest, as it has for the past 60 years. Going forward, NPT will continue our dialogue with officials from the WMNF and other stakeholders, and provide updates about this proposal when available.
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,
We expect the terminal to require the use of about 30 – 40 acres of the site.
It’s anticipated that the project will invest more than $350 million in Franklin, including the converter station and transmission structures. Additional information is posted here.
Many people have expressed concern about the potential visual impacts associated with The Northern Pass project. In response to these concerns, the project team hired LandWorks, a landscape architecture and planning firm, to produce a visual simulation booklet showing what the project will look like from locations where people would potentially see it from. These visual simulations were produced using sophisticated and industry-accepted software and software methodologies.
The goal of the visual simulations is not to make the project look good or bad, but to provide an objective perspective and sampling of what the project will look like from as many different vantage points as makes sense. Visual simulations typically focus on views from public vantage points rather than from individual residences.
For each vantage point included in the booklet, LandWorks provides a “before” image of what the view looks like today, and visual simulations showing what the view would look like with the inclusion of The Northern Pass transmission line using two typical industry designs: a) lattice transmission structures; and b) monopole transmission structures.
Photographs were taken using a 50 to 55mm lens, which registers similar to what the human eye sees. Because the eye acknowledges a 120- to 160-degree “cone of vision,” LandWorks tends to add a little more to the image on the left and right sides to provide a more accurate, panoramic view.
In LandWorks’ experience, these visual simulations tend to look very close to (or exactly the same as) what the project will actually look like from these vantage points once built. Additional visual simulations will be posted on the Northern Pass website as they become available.
Note: There are two versions of the Visual Simulations booklet, each sized for different types of paper. Exact sizes can be found in the 11 x 17 version, which is the full size document. The 8½ x 11 version of the Visual Simulations booklet, though easier to print, has been reduced by 40%, which may impact the perceived scale (i.e. objects may be larger or smaller than they appear).
One common misconception about The Northern Pass project is that all of the transmission structures will be 135 feet high—or taller. In fact, the anticipated height of most Northern Pass transmission structures is as follows:
Taller structures (up to 135 feet) will only be used along the route when necessary:
As a general rule, the wider a ROW, the shorter a structure that is needed.
The following photograph show what The Northern Pass transmission line is expected to look like from actual locations along the preliminary preferred route. For illustrative purposes only, based on preliminary engineering. For a larger version, please click on the image.