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Northern Pass vote date pushed back

Sep 02, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

This week, state regulators voted to delay giving their final decision on the controversial Northern Pass power line project.

Learn more about Northern Pass. Visit our issue page.

A final hurdle

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy gave the project a thumbs-up, recommending that a presidential permit be granted for it to cross the border with Canada.

However, a go-ahead from the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), the state body responsible for approving infrastructure projects like the Northern Pass, is essential for the project to move forward.

A history of delays

The SEC was originally supposed to vote on the project at the end of 2016. That deadline was pushed back to September 30, 2017, when project intervenors—people and organizations granted official status to give testimony and otherwise weigh in on the SEC’s process—pointed out that they hadn’t yet had time to review a report on the project’s potential environmental impact, compiled by another state agency.

Now, the issue is testimony. The SEC has been holding hearings for months, but hast yet to hear from over 100 witnesses. These include individuals testifying on behalf of Northern Pass’s developer, Eversource, as well as voices from the other side of the debate. This Thursday, the SEC voted to extend its deadline by six months, giving the committee until March 31, 2018 to make its decision.

A controversial decision

Northern Pass supporters weren’t happy with the move, with Eversource officials saying they were “disappointed” with the additional delay. The utility has previously said it is ready to commence construction as soon as the project is approved, with a planned in-service date sometime in 2020.

"These delays continue to hurt the economy and kill jobs in the state.”

- Brian Murphy, Local 104 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

However, opponents argued the delay was necessary to make sure the committee was fully informed before making a decision, and that the witnesses for public intervenors were granted the same amount of time and consideration as those who appeared in favor of Northern Pass.

"It is inconceivable to us that New Hampshire's 'brand,' once signified by the Old Man of the Mountains' craggy profile, could soon be represented by a string of industrial-grade steel towers.”

-New Hampshire Rep. Neal Kurk

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RELATED ISSUE

Northern Pass | 5 comment(s)
Should NH allow the Northern Pass to proceed with some (not all) of the lines buried?

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