NH officials again request options for Northern Pass path
By DAVE SOLOMON New Hampshire Union Leader
New Hampshire's congressional delegation has, for the third time in the past seven months, asked the Department of Energy to release the list of alternative routes for the Northern Pass that will be studied as part of the environmental review of the controversial hydroelectric project.
The list was created as an addendum to the recently released "Scoping Report" that summarized the results of public hearings on the project.
The Scoping Report was released three weeks ago, but not the addendum, prompting the state's two senators and two representatives to restate their request to have the route information released as soon as possible.
The letter was sent late Thursday to the Department of Energy by U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster.
The DOE agreed to issue the addendum regarding alternative routes in response to two previous letters from the New Hampshire delegation in August and in January.
Thursday's letter essentially says, thanks for agreeing to provide the addendum, now please do so.
"We were pleased that DOE agreed to our previous request that the agency release an addendum to the Scoping Report ... . This is an important step in the review process that will apprise interested parties of the preliminarily identified alternatives to the project as proposed and prepare stakeholders for the draft environmental impact statement that your agency anticipates releasing in late 2014," states the letter.
"In order to maximize the benefit of the addendum, it is essential that it be released sufficiently in advance of the Draft (environmental impact statement) in order to allow New Hampshire citizens the opportunity to thoroughly review the preliminarily identified alternatives. We respectfully request that DOE issue the addendum to the public as soon as possible and provide us with the date that it will be released."
Officials from the DOE were unavailable for comment on the request.
According to the Scoping Report released on March 12, New Hampshire residents submitted the majority of the 7,560 comments received during the public hearings on the plan to bring 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectric power from Quebec into the New England grid through New Hampshire.
The most common topic dealt with alternative ways to construct the proposed transmission line, including burial. All stakeholders in the project, pro or con, are anxious to see whether burial will be one of the alternatives the DOE agrees to include in its environmental impact study.
"Given that the alternative routes were one of the most commented on subject matters in the Scoping Report, it made sense to reiterate the importance of it to DOE and encourage the organization to publicly release the addendum in a timely manner," said Ben Wakana, spokesman for Shea-Porter.
"The delegation continues to work to promote transparency and ensure New Hampshire citizens have the opportunity to express their views about Northern Pass. In order to do this, citizens need time to review all the proposed alternatives," he firstname.lastname@example.org