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Northern Pass believes it will be able to acquire ROWs


May 11, 2011
The Northern Pass parent companies have told the federal government they believe the international power transmission line will be able to gain the needed rights of way for the proposed project to be built.

Both NSTAR and Northeast Utilities (NU) state in their most recent 10K quarterly reports filed last week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that Northern Pass Transmission (NPT) expects to be able to acquire the necessary rights-of-way (ROW) to go forward with the controversial project.

NPT, which proposes to spend $1.1 billion to build a transmission line through New Hampshire to bring 1,200-megawatts of low-carbon electricity from Quebec-Hydro to the New England power grid, is a joint venture indirectly owned by NU and NSTAR, on a 75 percent and 25 percent basis, respectively.

NSTAR was formerly Boston Edison.

"On March 30, 2011, the N. H. House of Representatives approved House Bill 648, which would preclude non-reliability projects, such as NPT, from using eminent domain to acquire property for construction of transmission lines," NSTAR's quarterly report states.

"The legislation is pending in the New Hampshire Senate.

"NPT believes that it will be able to acquire necessary property rights for the NPT Line."

NU, of which Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) is a wholly owned subsidiary, filed a slightly different statement on how HB648 might affect the NPT project: "On March 30, 2011, the N. H. House of Representatives approved House Bill 648, which would preclude non-reliability projects, such as Northern Pass, from using eminent domain to acquire property for construction of transmission lines. This legislation is pending in the N. H. Senate. If passed, this legislation could make it more difficult for NPT to obtain the property required for the project. We believe that we will be able to acquire the necessary property for the project."

These two New-England-based utility companies are in the process of merging. If their plans succeed, the new company — to be called Northeast Utilities — would be the 15th or so largest utility company in the U.S.

Both their latest quarterly reports review NPT's application process to date.

NU states: "The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) held seven meetings in New Hampshire in mid-March 2011 seeking public comment on NPT.

"In response to concerns raised at these meetings, in April 2011, NPT revised its application to request an additional 60 days for the public comment period to allow NPT to review other routes and withdrew certain proposed alternative routes. "NPT anticipates filing additional state and federal permit and siting applications in 2011.

"Assuming timely regulatory review and siting approvals, NPT expects to commence construction of Northern Pass in 2013 and complete the line with power flowing in late 2015."

NPT/PSNH spokesman Martin Murray said in an e-mail exchange on Friday: "We appreciate the concerns expressed by landowners regarding the original preferred (new Right of Way) route in the North Country and are now seeking to establish a route that does have the support of landowners. We are optimistic we'll be able to achieve that."

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its public hearing on HB648 at 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, in Representatives Hall in the State House in Concord.

Garnett Hill
Penny Pitou
Martin Lord Osman
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