N.H. congressional delegation asks for extension of public comment period for Northern Pass

Last modified: 5/13/2015 12:47:24 AM
The New Hampshire congressional delegation is renewing its call to extend the public comment period on a federal study of the Northern Pass transmission project, after the U.S. Department of Energy denied the delegation’s first request.

The DOE is conducting an environmental review of the proposed 187-mile electric transmission line. The draft environmental impact statement, expected to contain more than 2,000 pages of material, is set to be released this summer. A public comment period will follow.

The state delegation wrote to the DOE earlier this year asking for public hearings to be scheduled at least 90 days after the draft release, and for public comments to be accepted for at least 90 days after the final hearing.

DOE Assistant Secretary Patricia Hoffman wrote in April that the federal agency plans to provide at least 60 days for public review of the statement, which she said exceeds the minimum required 45-day comment period.

The congressional delegation said in a response dated Friday that the proposed 60-day comment period is insufficient.

“We strongly believe that New Hampshire residents deserve ample time to review, understand and comment on this complex project,” said the letter, signed by Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Republican Rep. Frank Guinta and Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster. “We believe Granite Staters deserve a meaningful opportunity to participate in the review process and to have their voices heard.”

The controversial Northern Pass project, set to run through New Hampshire from Canada to Deerfield, has run into intense opposition from homeowners and environmental groups who say the utility towers and overhead lines will mar the state’s landscape. Proponents say the project is needed to bring hydropower to the region.

Northern Pass, a partnership between Eversource Energy and Hydro-Quebec, needs both state and federal approval. Project officials have said they plan to begin the state permitting process soon after the DOE releases the draft environmental impact statement.




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