Northern Pass Proposes 52 More Miles of Buried Line
Northern Pass officials unveiled a new project route Tuesday that buries an additional 52 miles of the transmission line under state roadways from Bethlehem to Bridgewater, which takes the line beneath the White Mountain National Forest.
The company also announced a multimillion-dollar fund to invest in communities that host the project and a plan to direct a portion of the line’s hydropower to New Hampshire consumers.
But in order to bury more of the 192-mile line that would run from Pittsburg to Deerfield, the company had to scale back the size of the project from 1,200 megawatts to 1,000 – still enough to power 1 million homes.
Even though Northern Pass officials had previously said that burying more of the electric transmission line would send costs skyrocketing, a top Eversource Energy executive said Tuesday the project is still estimated to cost $1.4 billion.
“We’re in the middle of re-evaluating the project cost estimate; we do think there will be some increased cost,” said Bill Quinlan, president of Eversource’s New Hampshire Electric Operations. “It’s certainly a smaller project, but it’s fair to say it’s going to be in the $1.4 billion range.”
The revised route doesn’t change the line’s path through the North Country. Nor does it alter the southern segment, an overhead line that runs through Franklin and Concord before ending in Deerfield.
The Northern Pass project – a partnership between Eversource Energy and HydroQuebec – would funnel Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid.
The project is necessary, Quinlan said Tuesday, to help lower the region’s high electricity prices and diversify its energy mix, which is increasingly reliant on natural gas.
But since its inception in 2010, the controversial energy project has had trouble gaining widespread public support over concerns that the tall utility towers will mar the state’s natural landscape and hurt property values.
Tuesday marked the second time Northern Pass has revised its project in an effort to appease critics. The first time, in 2013, the company committed to bury 8 miles of line through the North Country.
While several state lawmakers came out in favor of the new plan Tuesday, some opponents said the new route is a start, but shows Northern Pass can afford to bury more.
“We should give them credit for agreeing to bury what amounts to another 28 percent of the line,” said Jack Savage, of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “But, still two-thirds of the line, more than 125 miles, they are proposing to build overhead.”
The full story by Allie Morris in the Concord Monitor link below.
[broken link: concordmonitor.com/news/18231021-95/northern-pass-proposes-52-more-miles-of-buried-lines-for-project]