A proposal to build construct a major powerline through New Hampshireâ€™s north country has led to a vigorous discussion about the regionâ€™s electric supply and distribution. The 180-mile utility line would carry electricity from Hydro Quebec to southern NH, MA and CT. The project is proposed by Northern Pass, an LLC owned by Northeast Utilities which believes it can offer the electricity on the grid at a competitive price. New Hampshire is presently uses less electricity than it generates. However, consumption is increasing and there are times in the summer when electric demand in the whole northeast grid approaches peak capacity.
The power line would require towers 90-135 feet tall. The proposed preferred route would run on existing right of way, including 10 miles through the White Mountain National Forest. An alternate route has been identified that would avoid the National Forest. This route would require the acquisition of about 50 miles of new right of way and include portions of Haverhill, Piermont and Orford. Emily Bryant, who serves on the Orford Conservation commission and makes maps professionally (Stonehouse Mtn Mapping), donated a map that shows the proposed alternate route and nearby conservation lands.
A critical step in the potential development will be an impact analysis conducted for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which must approve the proposal. DOE has been conducting public hearings to solicit guidance regarding the â€œscopeâ€ of the impact analysis â€“ the issues that will be examined. Written testimony on scoping will be accepted until April 12. At the same time, the NH legislature is considering a bill which would make it less likely that right-of-ways along the route could be acquired by eminent domain.
We believe the proposed route through Haverhill, Piermont and Orford poses risk to conservation resources and community health. We have submitted written testimony to DOE detailing our concerns about potential impacts on the conservation and stewardship of wildlife habitat, water resources, and visual and recreational resources as well as the economic consequences of those impacts. Please read this letter written by UVLTâ€™s President, Jeanie McIntyre to the U.S. Department of Energy for a full description of our concerns and scoping requests.
What you can do:
- Learn more about the steps in the review process and the opportunities for public comment by reading this document put together by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.
- Speak up. You can submit your own comments before April 12 by visiting the Department of Energyâ€™s website.
- Reduce the peak. As consumers of electricity, we all shape projections of demand and peak load. â€œThe Home Energy Diet: How to Save Money by Making Your House Energy-Smartâ€ is a good conservation guide. Join your townâ€™s energy committee or help form one.
- Participate in the ongoing dialogue about the regionâ€™s energy future. Visit SERG’s website to learn more.