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SEC meets at Loon on April 12 to discuss intervener issues and Northern Pass motions

March 30, 2016
LINCOLN – Members of the Site Evaluation Committee involved in reviewing the Northern Pass application are slated to meet at Loon Mountain Resort on April 12, starting at 10 a.m. Any requests to review the SEC's recent order on intervener letters is one of three items on the agenda.

The SEC subcommittee will also consider motions Northern Pass filed seeking a partial waiver from new rules, as well as a request for confidential treatment of some aspects of the project's application.

More than 160 people and organizations sought status as a intervener in the Northern Pass proceeding. An intervener is granted the authority to take part directly in the hearings that will determine if Northern Pass receives a state construction permit.

The SEC denied 29 intervener requests and consolidated many others in an order released on March 18. Those aggrieved by the order had until March 28 to file a request for review of the decision.

Towns in opposition to the controversial hydropower transmission project were placed into three geographic intervener groups. In some cases, conservation commissions and planning boards sought separate intervener status from the town's board of selectmen.

The day before the SEC's order, the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions sent a letter to the SEC hoping for full status for the seven commissions requesting status as an intervener. In the order, the commissions are grouped with other town bodies.

The conservation commission letter was submited by Carol Andrews, Interim Executive Director of the Association.

She suggested, "Each conservation commission possesses unique familiarity and specialized local knowledge of natural resources and water resources."

"In some locations, the proposed transmission line may have a direct effect on conservation land managed by the conservation commission," Andrews added.

The seven conservation commissions that requested separate intervener status were from Ashland, Bethlehem, Dalton, Deerfield, Easton, Franconia, and Holderness.

A waiver from certain SEC rules are another part of the April 12 meeting agenda. The new rules were adopted after the original Northern Pass application in October.

The waiver was requested regarding "information on abutting properties and additional information on the alternative route that the applicant considered technically available, although not preferred, that in reality is no longer a viable alternative," based on the Northern Pass waiver request.

The alternative route included 47 miles of overhead transmission lines using an existing right of way in the White Mountain National Forest. The route is "no longer feasible and therefore unavailable," according to the waiver request.

An additional waiver Northern Pass is requesting pertains to an SEC rule requiring proposed energy projects to identify several features on abutting properties, regardless of lot size.

Information in the Northern Pass application includes details about properties along the project route, but not to the extent a literal reading of the rule requires. In seeking the waiver, the project suggested, "It is impractical and unreasonably burdensome to require the applicants to map all property lines, residences, industrial buildings and other structures and improvements outside of the mapped area."

SEC rules also require mapping of wetlands on abutting properties. Northern Pass wrote that the application currently shows all wetlands that could be affected by construction of the project.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and several other entities filed a counter motion to the Northern Pass waiver request.

Comments and orders related to Northern Pass can be downloaded at: http://www.nhsec.nh.gov/projects/2015-06/2015-06.htm.

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