Friday, April 11, 2014

Northern Pass still breeds deep suspicion

Littleton: Residents Suspicious Of National Grid Proposal

Robert Blechl
Staff Writer
Caledonian Record
April 11, 2014

LITTLETON, N.H. -- More than three years after the Northern Pass Transmission line proposal went public, suspicions about the controversial project run just as deep.

This week, National Grid's proposal to build a small transmission line in Littleton went to a public hearing, where several area residents asked for additional assurances the line does not in any way relate to the Northern Pass line.

Summarizing questions submitted by several residents, New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) Chairman Thomas Burack asked National Grid project manager Patrick Quigley, "Does this project have any connection in any way, shape or form to Northern Pass?"

"None whatsoever," said Quigley, who added the National Grid line would be built even if Northern Pass was not built.

Although National Grid's Feb. 7 application to SEC states that the project is not associated with Northern Pass, some residents wanted more assurance, including Easton resident Kris Pastoriza, who asked if National Grid would make a written statement, something legally enforceable, that the line is not related in any way to Northern Pass.

"I don't know what else we can say beyond tonight," said National Grid attorney Barry Needleman, who told SEC members that he doesn't believe the company is legally required to provide a written statement.

Needleman said there is no connection between the two projects and said National Grid representatives are prepared at the appropriate time to state that under oath.

Monday's hearing before the SEC, at the Littleton Opera House, comes after two hearings in 2013, when National Grid went before the Littleton Zoning Board to inform the town about its plan to construct a new 230-kilovolt tap transmission line.

That line would extend from National Grid's existing 6.6-mile transmission line - connecting the Comerford and Moore dams - to the Public Service of New Hampshire substation at 266 Foster Hill Road.

In its application, National Grid states the purpose of the line is to provide power to a second auto-transformer in the Littleton substation that PSNH will install in order to address New Hampshire and Vermont reliability needs identified by ISO-New England, which oversees the operations of New England's transmission lines and bulk electric power system.

The proposed line would stretch a total two-tenths of a mile and consist of four wood pole transmission structures that would include a 35-foot structure, two H-frame suspension structures at 70 and 80 feet, respectively, and one 80-foot H-frame dead-end structure.

SEC member Amy Ignatius asked Needleman if he would agree that if National Grid proposed an amendment to its plan, such as redesigning the AC line to carry DC current, or if it wanted to transfer ownership to PSNH it would have to again come before SEC.

"I agree with that," said Needleman.

PSNH and Northern Pass are subsidiaries of Northeast Utilities.

Addressing SEC members, Littleton psychologist and 2012 New Hampshire Senate candidate Debi Warner said, "If you approve this, I ask you to state it is not to be converted and not to be used for Northern Pass."

In its application, National Grid states it owns all the existing electric facilities within its transmission right-of-way in Littleton and will be the owner of the proposed line.

The existing tap right-of-way is about 450 feet wide and would be widened through tree clearing by an additional 135 feet to accommodate the new line, according to the application. The project would impact a total of 64 square feet of wetlands.

National Grid, asking SEC to expedite its review of the project, said its plan is to begin construction in September and complete it by December