Saturday, December 18, 2010

The "Risks" of PSNH Taking Private Land for ROW Acquisition and Expansion


On December 15, 2010, Northern Pass Transmission (NPT), PSNH's name for the HVDC line, submitted a transmission service agreement to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval. The document is 703 pages and includes a section titled "Prepared Direct Testimony and Exhibits of James A. Muntz,"  president of NPT (Exh. No. NPT-200, 38 pages). In his testimony, Muntz addresses PSNH's "risks," which affect costs and pricing, including the "risk" of taking privately-owned land by eminent domain for the transmission corridor. PSNH could take private land to expand an existing ROW or to create a new one:

In addition, the expansion of existing ROW, and the acquisition of
approximately 50 miles of new ROW may, as a last resort, trigger the need
to exercise the power of eminent domain in order to achieve that expansion
and acquisition. The need to exercise eminent domain authority, which
requires approval from the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, is
not something that is either lightly or easily pursued in any circumstance,
and may serve to trigger greater opposition to the project. (p. 27/310)
Additional delays in the already lengthy and complex process of
siting a line can result from public opposition where new ROW needs to be
acquired. If a negotiated settlement for property acquisition cannot be
reached, eminent domain proceedings may be necessary. In such
proceedings, NPT’s efforts to secure the ROW for the line may be
challenged, resulting in lengthy delays and increased costs. Successful
challenges can trigger an entirely new round of planning or, at least,
significant modifications to the line route. Should any modification to the
line route be made after permits are received, the project would have to re
open siting proceedings to resolve additional issues which will also result in
schedule delays. Public opposition can also lead to political or legislative
action such as protective designation of federal or state lands or rivers
resulting in regulatory barriers to proposed transmission corridors.
                                                                    (pp. 30-31/314-15)
Bury the Northern Pass is a group of concerned citizens in Grafton County; we work in solidarity with our neighbors to the north in Coos County. To join the email list, write to