Northern Pass receives OK to bury power lines in White Mountain National ForestBy MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader
January 06. 2018 12:02AM
CONCORD — The U.S. Forest Service announced Friday it will issue a special issue permit for Northern Pass to bury 11 miles of power line within the White Mountain National Forest.
The permit allows Northern Pass “to construct, operate, and maintain an electric power transmission line crossing portions of the White Mountain National Forest,” according to Clare Mendelsohn, forest supervisor at the White Mountain National Forest.
“I don’t think it changes anything,” said project opponent Jack Savage from the Society for the Protection of NH Forests. “They went underground to help appease the White Mountain National Forest. We maintain to appease the rest of New Hampshire is to go underground elsewhere.”
The U.S. Forest Service in September recommended the special permit.
Savage said the “real decision” rests with the state Site Evaluation Committee, which begins public deliberations Jan. 30 after months of hearings.
The proposed $1.6 billion project, which runs through more than 30 communities, needs a handful of state and federal approvals before it can start operating by late 2020. The route runs from Pittsburg to Deerfield and includes 60 miles of buried lines.
Northern Pass previously proposed running an overhead power line in the national forest in an existing right-of-way with other power lines already there.
The power line will be buried within the roadway and shoulder areas along routes 112 and 116.
Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray welcomed the decision.
“We are particularly gratified that two different forest supervisors, who are charged with protecting the (White Mountain National Forest), have both concluded that the benefits of Northern Pass more than outweigh the short-term construction impacts on the (forest),” Murray said.
“When we proposed an underground cable for the (White Mountain National Forest) portion of the route, we believed it was the best option for the (forest) and for the state,” Murray said. “We’re pleased to see the (U.S. Forest Service) agrees and that we can remain on track to begin construction by mid-2018.”