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Northern Pass receives a major federal permit



Monitor staff
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Northern Pass, the controversial proposed electricity transmission project, has passed another potential hurdle by receiving its federal Environmental Impact Statement permit from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The report talks about seven alternatives, from building nothing to burying the entire 192-mile line, and looks at impacts ranging from noise and visual harm to invasive species and soils.

It calls the route proposed by Eversource, with 132 miles built on towers in new or existing rights of way, its “preferred alternative,” although it notes that the construction of the towers in the North Country “could result in adverse impacts to tourism and recreation,” a major argument from opponents.

The proposal to bring 1,090 megawatts of electricity from HydroQuebec hydropower dams still requires other federal permits, including DOE’s Presidential Permit, a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service, and a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Meanwhile, the state’s Site Evaluation Committee is continuing to hold hearings on the project. So far it has held public hearings on 27 days, with another 15 days scheduled through Sept. 29.

The $1.6 billion project would run from Pittsburg to Deerfield, passing through Concord. Eversource says it could be carrying electricity as early as 2020.

The project is facing competition for the role of carrying electricity from Quebec into New England. No fewer than five different lines of roughly the same cost and size as Northern Pass have been proposed to run south through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine or even on the seabed, with one already under construction.