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Eversource Energy will address Concord City Council subcommittee on Northern Pass

Last modified: 3/23/2015 11:41:01 PM
Concord could receive $828,000 in new pole tax revenue if Northern Pass comes through the city, an Eversource Energy representative told a city council subcommitee yesterday.

That subcommittee has gathered to study how the proposed hydropower line would affect Concord; yesterday was its first meeting. The city is an intervenor in the permitting process for Northern Pass, meaning Concord officials can weigh in on the project and take legal action if warranted. The council does not, however, have the power to decide whether the hydropower project moves forward.

But because some councilors have heard questions and concern from their constituents, Ward 8 Councilor Gail Matson suggested the subcommittee to study its impact on the city. The subcommittee could ultimately recommend a stance on the project to the council at large and to the U.S. Department of Energy.

“We want to see what the impact is going to be, and we want to see what our options are,” Matson said. “I think what we want to do is explore the information.”

Ward 9 Councilor Candace Bouchard, Ward 10 Councilor Dan St. Hilaire and at-large Councilor Mark Coen also serve on the committee. St. Hilaire was not present at yesterday’s subcommittee meeting. The group asked questions about the proposed route through Concord, as well as new jobs and revenue that could be created as a result of its presence here.

Bonnie Kurylo, a project manager from Eversource Energy, will address most of those questions in a presentation at the subcommittee’s next meeting. She did point out that Concord would likely receive an additional $828,000 in pole tax revenue from the Northern Pass project, in addition to the more than $400,000 currently paid each year for the Eversource Energy transmission lines through the city.

She was also quick to note public hearings held in Concord in 2013, as well as future public hearings that would be required by the Site Evaluation Committee.

“I would show you what we proposed and what we changed because of what we heard from the public,” Kurylo said.

But the councilors wanted to hear more.

“I think it’s a good idea to have this meeting and perhaps hear from Northern Pass where they are, so we can be on the same page as to what’s rumor and what’s true. . . . I think we should be very concerned about the impact to the city,” Bouchard said.

Announced in 2010, the proposed project is a partnership between Eversource Energy, Northeast Utilities and Hydro-Quebec. It would bring hydropower from Canada, through New Hampshire and into the New England energy grid along 187 miles of transmission lines.

Concord has already commented twice on the project. In June 2013, City Manager Tom Aspell penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy to express concern on behalf of the conservation commission and the planning board about Northern Pass in Concord. At that time, the conservation commission had expressed opposition to the entire project, and the planning board had suggested the power lines be buried through Concord.

Then in September 2013, the city also submitted a motion to the Department of Energy to become an intervenor in the permitting process for Northern Pass. Officials have said the Department of Energy will publish a draft environmental impact study for the project this spring.

The subcommittee will likely meet again next week.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)


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