Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Municipal Intervenors in the SEC Docket for Northern Pass

The following municipal groups have petitioned in advance for intervenorship; as of December 2, 2015, the SEC has not set a deadline for intervenorship.  

Coos County Commissioner
Holderness Conservation Commission


North Country: Growing Number Of Towns To File As Northern Pass Interveners

State To Decide Next Monday If Northern Pass Application Complete

By Robert Blechl, Staff Writer
Caledonian Record

As Northern Pass enters another year and nears another round of state and federal hearings, a growing number of North Country towns have expressed their intention to file as interveners to get their voices heard and questions answered.

During their meeting last week, selectmen in Northumberland discussed intervener status, with Selectman James Tierney saying with intervener status the town can have its suggestions considered and its questions answered. He noted the city of Concord and town of Bethlehem have put in for intervener status.

Northumberland selectmen on Nov. 23 voted 3-0 to send a letter to the state requesting the status.

On Dec. 9 in Bethlehem, the Bethlehem Planning Board will discuss their town becoming an intervener, after Bethlehem Conservation Commission Chair Cheryl Jensen met with board members Nov. 18.

Jensen said there is the impact of a possible transition station of about an acre to be located at Brook Road and Route 302, where the Northern Pass line would pass through, and the only way for the town to have any control over the project is to request intervener status.

Two days before she met with planners, Jensen met with selectmen, who agreed the town should apply for the status. Selectmen discussed the transition station development and the portion of overhead hydro-electric transmission line that could go in the Brook Road-Baker Brook area.

The town of Franconia, which after a revised route would now see five miles of buried line, is also mulling intervener status after a Nov. 18 public hearing in which the dozens of residents in attendance opposed the project.

At the state level, the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) has scheduled a hearing at 9 a.m. Monday at the N.H. Public Utilities Commission offices in Concord to decide whether or not Northern Pass' application filed with SEC is complete.

The Society For the Protection of New Hampshire Forests has asked SEC to declare Northern Pass' Oct. 19 application incomplete, arguing the company cannot demonstrate that it has the property rights needed to bury its line under land the Forest Society owns in Clarksville and the SEC does not have the authority to grant such a right.

Currently, a total of 60 miles of the 192-mile line are proposed for burial, with 52 miles around the White Mountain National Forest and 7.5 miles in Coos County.

Northern Pass argues roadways have traditionally supported energy projects.

On Monday, however, Forest Society spokesman Jack Savage said there's nothing traditional about Northern Pass, which he said is a merchant project designed to move electricity from Canada to southern New England.

The Forest Society has also filed a lawsuit in Coos Superior Court asking the court to find and rule that Northern Pass' proposed use of the Washburn Family Forest in Clarksville is unauthorized.

"We are making the case the SEC in particular doesn't have the authority to resolve the dispute," said Savage. "Northern Pass, in contrast, believes the SEC has some sort of magic wand that can make these property rights disputes go away."