April 11, 2011 - Northern Pass transmission

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Northern Pass project - a proposed high-voltage DC transmission line capable of sending about 1200 MW of power from Hydro-Quebec into New England - continues to be controversial.  The $1.1 billion line from the Canadian border has been proposed by Public Service of New Hampshire's parent Northeast Utilities, along with utility NSTAR and Hydro-Quebec.  These utilities promote the line as empowering New England markets to buy renewable power from Canada - primarily from Hydro-Quebec's nearly 40 gigawatts of hydro capacity.  Opponents raise concerns both about local siting issues related to the line - which runs through the White Mountain National Forest and a number of communities - as well as about the impact of importing gigawatts of Canadian renewable power on the development of renewable power projects in New England.

Now, two of New Hampshire's Congressional delegation, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Representative Charles Bass, have sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Chu expressing opposition to the project in its current form based on the public hearings that have been held.  They call on the Department of Energy to study alternatives to building towers along the Northern Pass's route through New Hampshire - alternatives like burying the lines or using existing rights-of-way.  The Congressional delegation points to a need to protect New Hampshire's north country lands as "prime economic assets and pristine landscapes."

If the Northern Pass project is to be developed, proponents may have to navigate the political waters as well as the regulatory process. 

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