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Find out where Northern Pass would cross Concord, Canterbury

Last modified: 9/3/2013 11:51:12 PM
Northern Pass is not just a North Country project, and tomorrow night, folks in Concord and Canterbury can learn where the proposed hydropower line would run through their communities.

Northern Pass officials will be at the Holiday Inn in Concord from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. answering questions about the project and using maps to show residents whether the line would go near their properties. There is no formal program, so visitors can come at any time, said project spokesman Michael Skelton.

In Canterbury, the proposed line would stretch about 6 miles, across the golf course; near Cambridge Drive; and near housing developments off Hoit Road. In Concord, the nearly 8 miles of proposed line would run parallel to Mountain Road; behind the McKenna’s Purchase condo development; over the big box stores on D’Amante Drive and near the airport.

Detailed satellite maps of the proposed route are available at northernpass.us under “In My Town.”

Concord city officials have shared concerns about the proposed hydropower line with the federal environmental agency reviewing the project. In a June 21 letter to the U.S. Department of Energy, City Manager Tom Aspell said city administrators, the conservation commission and the planning board are worried about the potential impact the project would have on the city’s “character and property values.”

Aspell cited an Applachian Mountain Club study that concluded Concord would have more visible towers per acre than any other community on the 180-mile route.

Aspell told federal officials the city wants the line buried, especially where it comes near residential areas. Northern Pass officials have said putting the line underground is too costly but recently offered to bury some of the line in Stewartstown and Clarksville.

If the project is approved as designed, the line through this area would run within the existing power line corridor operated by Public Service of New Hampshire. The new towers holding the hydropower line would be taller than the existing utility poles, most of which are 43 feet high, according to the project website.

In Concord, the new towers would range from 50 feet to 120 feet, with the most common being 80, 90 or 100 feet, the website said. In Canterbury, the proposed towers would range between 65 feet and 110 feet, with most being 80 feet.

Northern Pass is a partnership between Northeast Utilities, PSNH and Hydro-Quebec to bring hydropower from Canada, through New Hampshire and into the New England energy grid. The project still needs federal and state approvals.

Northern Pass officials predict the project would bring Canterbury about $467,000 annually in property taxes and Concord about $629,000 annually.

Tomorrow night’s meeting is open to anyone, but the materials available will relate only to the Concord and Canterbury locations of the proposed line. The line, which would enter the state in Pittsburg, would also cross through Franklin, Northfield, Pembroke, Allenstown and Deerfield. Skelton said Friday there will be additional open house meetings between now and October for the other communities along the power line’s proposed path.

Skelton said nearly 340 people have attended the previous open houses held in the northern part of the state. Some project opponents have complained in letters to newspapers that police officers or sheriff deputies have been posted outside those open houses. They’ve also said visitors have been turned away if they did not live in the community where the open house was being held.

Skelton said Friday that project officials have hired local law enforcement to “ensure a safe environment” for the public. He disputed the characterization, however, that there had been “armed guards” at the entrance of open houses. He also said only one couple was asked to leave an open house and that was because the pair was not from the community being discussed and was making it difficult for the locals to get information about the project.

Skelton said the couple was invited back into the open house once all local visitors had come through. He said everyone is welcome to the open house in Concord tomorrow night even though the focus will be on Concord and Canterbury because the Holiday Inn can hold a larger crowd.

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


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