Monday, July 25, 2011

Missing in Action: "Digging into underground. . ."

Late on Friday, July 22, 2011, Northern Pass posted "Digging into underground" on its website. By Monday morning, July 25, the post was gone. Northern Pass had taken it down, and we hardly knew ye! Here today, gone tomorrow. . . .The post was so historic, such a change of course on Northern Pass's part after ten months of telling the public that burying the lines was not possible, that we saved it. It is reproduced below for posterity's sake. Following that is an excerpt from the July 17th Union Leader, which contains Northern Pass's first public statement on line burial in reponse to Northeast Energy Link's announcement.
Project Journal
National Grid and Bangor Hydro Electric Company recently announced a proposed “Northeast Energy Link,” that could transmit 1,100 megawatts of energy along a 220 mile long High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) line that may be placed underground.
So, what is our view of this announcement?
We see this filing as a positive step toward the development of wind energy resources in Maine, and we’re also pleased that NEL has adopted the “participant funded” approach that originated with The Northern Pass. (Costs associated with the transmission line construction will be recovered through the sale of energy, instead of through a transmission charge.)
The NEL proposal includes several interesting distinctions, as we note on a comparison table: The project’s energy sources include more expensive, above-market wind power generators that have yet to be built, and that are dependent on customer subsidies in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates; and, the project will rely on Purchase Power Agreements (PPAs), to ensure the recovery of its higher costs.
This makes The Northern Pass look simple by comparison. Our project requires no subsidies; no PPAs are required to deliver the benefits of renewable power; and, its hydro electric power from existing sources is competitive on price with all fuel sources. (Reminder: PSNH is seeking its own PPA with Hydro Qu├ębec for a portion of the energy transmitted on The Northern Pass, in order to achieve additional economic benefit for New Hampshire.)
We’ve previously indicated that the use of conventional High Voltage Direct Current underground cable technology may not make sense for The Northern Pass because of environmental, reliability and economic challenges.
The NEL proposal speaks to the possible use of so-called “HVDC Light” underground technology.
This evolving technology has never been used on a project of the length or size of The Northern Pass or NEL. Nevertheless, we are, and will continue to assess the technologies’ operation, reliability, environmental and economic attributes relative to The Northern Pass.



From the Union Leader, July 17, 2011

Northern Pass eyes buried line


By PAUL FEELY


New Hampshire Union Leader


A new proposal by National Grid to increase the power supply in New England has opponents of a different project asking this question: If National Grid’s project — the Northeast Energy Link — can use an underground line, why can’t developers of the proposed Northern
Pass project do the same?

As proposed, Northern Pass would transmit hydro-electric power from Canada, through New Hampshire and into Massachusetts using an aboveground transmission line. Northern Pass is a joint venture proposed by Northeast Utilities, the parent company of Public Service of
 New Hampshire, and NStar. Northern Pass officials have said using an underground line would be too expensive.

Statements issued Friday afternoon suggest they may be revisiting the issue.

PSNH spokesperson Michael Skelton said in an email: “We have been following the development of the technology cited in the NEL project filing and its technical benefits and limitations. From the time we made our original filing at DOE, we have said that this is an evolving process — from line location to tower height to underground application — the project continues to evolve. We continue to evaluate the state of the art of transmission technology, including underground solutions, to develop the most efficient system that will deliver the many benefits of this project for New Hampshire and the region.”

Skelton later issued a second statement: “As part of our efforts on the Northern Pass, we are continuing to respond to feedback we’ve received over the past several months about line routing, view shed impacts, and finding ways to mitigate, to the extent possible, the issues that have been expressed about the project. During this time, we’ve been asked about the use of placing the proposed line underground.

“Using conventional underground technology, we’ve indicated that underground posed environmental, reliability and economic challenges that could make its use prohibitive for this project. The use of the newer, stateof- the art ‘HVDC Light’ type of underground technology is one that we have also been reviewing and continuing to assess as it is being tested and applied to a variety of projects in the U.S. and around the world.

“We are studying its operational, reliability, environmental and economic attributes to determine its potential applicability to the Northern Pass project, given the capacity of the proposed line (1200 MWs), the distance of the line, and the topography of New Hampshire.”

The Conservation Law Foundation of New Hampshire has questioned in the past why PSNH couldn’t use underground wires. . . .

Friday, July 8, 2011

FAQs about the Proposed New Power Lines through the White Mountain National Forest (Part 1)

Northern Pass's Special Use Permit application to construct two new power lines through the White Mountain National Forest  (WMNF)  does not contain FAQs. Here are questions that some people are asking. This is Part 1 in a series.


Does Northern Pass hold a right of way (ROW) or easement rights from the USFS to cross the WMNF?
  • No, the USFS does not deed permanent ROW easements on the WMNF.
How are they going to build there?
  • For six miles of the ten-mile corridor through the WMNF, Northern Pass is applying for a Special Use Permit, which is renewable but not permanent. SUPs usually are granted for 30 years.
  • For the remaining four miles, Northern Pass proposes to use PSNH's private easement that had already been granted when WMNF acquired the land.
Can Northern Pass use PSNH's private easement?
  • That's a good question.
  • The 1951 easement deed restricts rights to "the grantee [PSNH], its successors, and assigns," legal terms.
  • Northern Pass is not PSNH's legal successor or assign.
  • Stay tuned.
Would Northern Pass have to get permissions of any kind from USFS to build on the WMNF land where PSNH holds a private easement?
  • Northern Pass says no. It has excluded the four miles of private easement from its application.
  • More on this in a subsequent part of this series.
How many power lines does Northern Pass want to build in the WMNF?
  • Two, a new AC line and new DC line.
How would they fit two power lines where there is currently only one?
  • The old AC line in the center of the 150' corridor would be dug up and removed.
  • The new AC line would be installed on one edge of the corridor.
  • The new DC line would be constructed on the other edge of the corridor.
What would they do with the current wooden AC poles, which are coated with creosote, an EPA-registered pesticide?
  • The current creosoted AC poles would be dug up, disassembled, and removed from the corridor.
  • After removal from the corridor, the poles would be recycled, buried in a landfill, or burned in a commercial or industrial incinerator or boiler.
How many towers does Northern Pass want to construct in the WMNF?
  • Northern Pass proposes to construct 79 towers for the new AC line.
  • It also proposes to construct 79 towers for the new DC line.   
  • The total would be158 new towers.
How far apart would the towers be?
  • 660'.
How tall would the new towers be?
  • The AC towers would be approximately 65'-110'.
  • The DC towers would be approximately 100'-135'.
How much taller would the new towers be than the current poles?
  • The typical height of the current poles is 52'.
  • The tallest new structures will be 2x to 2.75x higher than the current poles.
What does a power line corrdior with co-located AC and DC towers look like?

National Grid, Rte. 25C, Warren NH

Has Northern Pass published one of those "visual simulations" for what its two lines of towers will look like in the WMNF?
  • No
(To be continued.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The NH Land Grab Map

Currently, property owners in 21 towns in New Hampshire would face eminent domain seizure of their land if they do not give Northern Pass what it wants for 66 miles of proposed new right-of-ways. The following map was created by Neil Irvine based on Northern Pass data. View and download a larger format version here. Permission granted for use.


                                                      

North to south, towns currently facing eminent domain seizures are: Pittsburg, Clarksville, Stewartstown, Colebrook, Columbia, Stratford, Northumberland, Bethlehem, Woodstock, Campton, Bridgewater, New Hampton, Hill, Franklin, Northfield, Canterbury, Concord, Chichester, Pembroke, Allenstown, Deerfield.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Muntz Abridged but Perfectly in Order: A Found Poem

Guest blogger Kris Pastoriza (Easton) has composed a "found poem" based upon James Muntz's recently submitted Special Use Permit application to the USFS. A found poem uses pre-existing texts verbatim and rearranges them to find new meanings. Kris's poem abridges Muntz's text, but follows its order exactly from beginning to end. 
                                                      


         Approximately 93 Conditionals on the Corridor or Muntz Abridged
                                                                          
by
Kris Pastoriza

                                                                 


      “An estimated $25 million a year...can be used...to help...
         Approximately ...as estimated... can be...will help...stimulate... attractive..


        Northern Pass has attempted...to minimize... as much as practicable...
        and seeks to achieve this,
        in part...
      
        minimize...disturbance.. Within...
       
        Northern Pass anticipates being able to locate...approximately...
       
        ...nothing about this design or proposed Use should be viewed as final...
       
        Northern Pass anticipates...
        robust...
        in earnest...
        we provide...
      
        Northern Pass is seeking to the extent possible to locate...
        could be...
        Depending on the amount...
        may, however eliminate the need...
        could also reduce...may reduce...
        would require approximately
        79 steel structures that could
        range from approximately
        100-135 feet in height... Based on the preliminary engineering.

       To the extent possible...minimize impacts...
       appears to be a typographical error...

       approximately 30,085 feet in length...
       approximately 21,823 feet in length...
       approximately... based on the preliminary design...to the extent feasible...could
       include...
       to minimize...
    
       essentially clear...
       as necessary...minimize...to the extent possible...
       Where practical...to minimize...
       care would be
       taken...to the extent possible...
       could possibly...

       Northern Pass requests a permit area for the life of the transmission line and
       thus requests a permit area for the maximum duration available under Forest
       Service regulations.

       Approximately...approximately...seek to minimize...
       number and location... have yet to be determined...
       will likely consist of...
       minimize...
       may be located within... can vary in size...could range between
       5,000 and 14,000 square feet..  depending... ultimately depend on... as much
       as possible...will update...

       Northern Pass has...seriously considered...reducing or minimizing impacts to
       the extent practicable
       minimize impacts to the extent practicable...where possible...
       minimize...minimizing...minimize...
       can, as appropriate, be incorporated...
       maximizing...to the greatest extent practicable...
       may require...would likely involve..

       Northern Pass has endeavored to minimize...while balancing...to the extent
       practicable...             
       minimizes.. minimizing.. can be...
       help...
       estimates...will help...

       Northern Pass... develop an approach that minimizes... to the extent
       practicable...
       will  help reduce...not expected to have any impacts..
       minimize potential impacts...efforts will be taken...minimize... impacts...
       will be temporary.
       Permanent impacts will be avoided, minimized and mitigated.

        
       Could consist of...sounds...will be temporary in nature...
       expected to occur... some impacts... some additional clearing and grading...
                        45.5 acres of wetlands...avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands
                        wherever possible...
                        avoid or minimize impacts to wetlands...
                        Most impacts to wetland...will be temporary...
                        will revegetate..

        Northern Pass will minimize and mitigate permanent impacts where avoidance
        is not possible...
        anticipated...

       The Proposed Use is not anticipated to have any probable effects...
       depending on final design...



National Grid HV lines on Rt. 25C near the Appalachian Trail
     

Monday, July 4, 2011

Colebrook Fourth of July Parade



Can't Bear It & Sno Northern Pass

Rep. Larry Rappaport Stops Northern Pass

Trees not Towers


Unmasked!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Franconia Fourth of July

It was a red, white, blue & Orange day in Franconia. Over 60 people (and at least several dogs) marched in the Stop-the-Towers contingent in the Franconia parade, which was marshaled by Councilor Ray Burton. Orange dominated the main street of town. A few pictures follow, with more linked here.



Franconia Parade at the Rt. 18-116 junction
 

Onlookers support the Orange at the Franconia Parade