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Northern Pass to announce new proposed route

After several delays, Northern Pass officials said they will announce their proposed route through the North Country this morning at 11. The announcement will allow Northern Pass to begin seeking the federal and state permits it needs to build the project.

In a statement issued last night, Northern Pass
spokesman Martin Murray said the new route responds to “potential visual impacts and property rights” but did not offer specifics. His statement did not indicate whether Northern Pass intends to
bury some or all of the proposed 180-mile hydropower transmission line from
Canada to the New England power grid.

Nor did Murray’s statement say how Northern Pass will navigate around hurdles the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests has erected by conserving strategic properties along what is expected to be the project’s likely route. All the major environmental groups in New England have opposed the project and called on project leaders to bury the line. Northern Pass officials have said that is not an economically viable option.

The project, a partnership between Northeast Utilities, Public Service of New Hampshire and Hydro-Quebec, was announced in October 2010 but has been delayed several times by opposition, especially in northern New Hampshire.

Early plans called for the route to run down the eastern side of the state, but strong opposition prompted Northern Pass officials to scrap that route and begin anew. Today will be the first time they’ve revealed their newest plan. But their land purchases in the North Country suggest they hope to enter New Hampshire in Pittsburg, travel south to Franklin and then east over to Deerfield, where the line would enter the New England energy grid.

Project officials have spent $40 million just on land in Northern New Hampshire for that part of the route, according to property records.

The North Country route, estimated to be 40 miles long, will require new clearings for the high-voltage transmission line. The rest of the proposed line, 140 miles, would run alongside PSNH’s existing power lines. Part of the line would run through Concord.

Attending today’s announcement will be Gary Long, president and chief operating officer of PSNH and state business and labor leaders, Murray’s statement said.

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, or on Twitter@annmarietimmins.)

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