Monday, July 15, 2013

Northern Pass Rears Its Ugly Head (Again)

Despite massive public opposition, significantly over-budget, and three years behind schedule,  the CEO of the Northern Pass Project vows the controversial high voltage transmission line will be built.
The project is a 180-mile power line that would bring power from Canada to New England. It first came to the attention of environmentalists and others when the proposed route was unveiled. The developers wanted to cut a 100-foot wide swath through the White Mountain National Forest, with steel pylons towering above the surrounding forest.
Soon, it wasn’t just a few environmental and conservation interests that opposed it. They were joined by residents and business interests who were concerned about the impact the project would have on the region’s tourist industry. They rallied to buy up land and conservation easements along the route.
And while it was originally described as bringing power to New Hampshire, it turned out that New Hampshire doesn’t need it. The developers were planning to sell it on the New England power grid – but they don’t want it either. ISO-New England, which manages the New England power grid opposes the project.
Yet another route was unveiled two weeks ago. It moves the route a few miles to the east, still through pristine wilderness areas. None of the opponents have changed their mind. The project is a joint venture by Northeast Utilities, Hydro-Quebec, and PSNH. All three are privately held corporations – not public utilities.
“We are ready to move forward,” said CEO Gary Long when the plan was unveiled.

The project won’t be starting anytime soon, though Long predicted it would be operational by 2017. There’s still a host of impact statements and permit – including a Presidential permit – that will be required.

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