Concord wants its voice heard in Northern Pass approval process

  • A worker in a bucket truck along the intersection of power lines from Eversource and Unitil along the route of the Northern Pass sight near the Steeplegate Mall.(GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff)

Monitor staff
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Concord wants to make sure it gets a say during the Northern Pass permitting process.

The city filed a motion Friday to independently participate in the state proceeding, instead of working together with a group of other cities and towns to file motions and identify concerns.

“The proposed project has significant and unique impacts on Concord,” said the motion, signed by Deputy City Solicitor Danielle Pacik. “It is imperative that Concord have an adequate opportunity to fully address those issues in its pleadings.”

The nine-member Site Evaluation Committee is in charge of granting state approval for Northern Pass, a project that plans to run a 192-mile electric transmission line through New Hampshire.

Because more than 100 “interveners” filed to participate in the permitting process, the SEC grouped stakeholders with similar interests together.

Concord was named to “municipal group 3.” It includes planning boards, boards of selectmen and conservation commissions from nine cities and towns located along the southern section of the line that spans from Holderness to Deerfield. Intervener groups are supposed to designate a single spokesperson to represent their agreed-upon interests during the proceeding.

The city requested in its motion to be removed from the group and allowed to intervene independently. Interveners don’t have a direct say on project approval, but can participate in the process by filing motions and cross-examining witnesses.

In its motion, the city raised concern that Concord’s voice could be silenced if the municipal group can’t reach consensus. And it said city ordinances would likely bar Concord legal counsel from serving as the group’s designated spokesperson.

“Concord needs the opportunity to independently explore the impact of the project’s construction and operations on its population,” the motion said. “Concord should not be forced to file pleadings and present examination with other municipalities.”

Northern Pass would run 8 miles overhead through the city, passing by a large condominium development near Loudon Road and through Turtle Pond in East Concord.

The city council recommended last year that the energy project be buried entirely through Concord.

The Northern Pass project would bring Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid.

While opponents say the line will mar the state’s natural landscape and lower property values, supporters say it will help lower electricity costs and create jobs.

Roughly 60 miles of the project would be buried beneath the White Mountain National Forest and through northern New Hampshire. The remaining 132 miles would run overhead.

The project needs both state and federal approval.

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307, or on Twitter @amorrisNH.)

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