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NPT withdraws 5 alternative routes, will seek solutions

April 14, 2011
MANCHESTER — Northern Pass Transmission LLC (NPT) filed a request with the federal Department of Energy (DOE) yesterday (April 12) that asks for immediate changes to its application for a Presidential Permit to bring 1,200-megawatts of high-voltage direct current electricity generated by Hydro Quebec across the US-Canada border at Pittsburg.

NPT has asked to take off the table five proposed "alternative" routes, removing them from its application.

NPT has also asked for an additional 60-day comment period while it looks at alternatives.

A 60-day comment period would end in mid-June.

NPT, a limited liability company jointly owned by NU Transmission Ventures, Inc. (75%) and NSTAR Transmission Ventures, Inc. (25%) seeks to remove these alternatives from further consideration: (1) the Second Alternative in the North Section which would have gone around the Cape Horn State Forest, but through the Potter Farm conservation area in Northumberland and Lancaster; (2) the Third Alternative in the North Section, which would have gone primarily through Whitefield, Dalton, and Littleton; (3) the First Alternative in the Central Section, which would have gone around the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) and through the towns of Easton, Landaff, Bath, Haverhill, Piermont, Orford, Wentworth, Dorchester, Groton, Rumney, Plymouth, Bridgewater, and Ashland; and (4) the First Alternative and (5) Second Alternative in the South Section which would have gone through Canterbury, Concord, Loudon, Chichester, Pittsfield, Epsom, and Northwood.

NPT also continues to favor using an existing right of way in Concord, provided the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves its use. If approval is gained, then NPT would remove the current "preferred" route from further consideration.

"We've been listening," explained Public Service of New Hampshire CEO Gary Long in a telephone interview. Concerns have been raised at the EIS scoping hearings and at other venues regarding other portions of the proposed route, particularly in the North Country, he acknowledged, especially in the stretch where there is no ROW between the Canadian border and the Lost Nation substation in Groveton.

NPT is not proposing any new routing options at this time, Long said, but is asking for time to explore additional route alternatives and for the public to be able to comment on any that are identified.

"We do hope that this additional time will allow us to establish a dialogue," Long said. "Just saying 'no' doesn't lead to solutions."

When asked about the possibility of looking at a route in Vermont, Mr. Long replied, "It would be unlikely that Vermont would be considered." For the first time the CEO noted that there are some reliability issues there.

When asked why NPT did not just "withdraw the proposed project from the DOE permitting process and go back to the drawing board" as urged by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF), Long replied that this project would bring the benefit of both low-carbon renewable energy to the state for the next 40 years and hundreds of millions of dollars.

The benefits are so large, he said, that it impels him and others working on the NPT project to continue to work to find acceptable solutions.

By removing major alternative routes from the table as well as the anxiety they engendered, NPT expects to be able to focus its attention on looking solutions.

"The benefits to New Hampshire are just too large not to continue to pursue solutions," Long said. "I truly believe there are solutions out there, and we're asking for more time to find them."

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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Town of Barnsted
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