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Northern Pass site visits begin in the North Country

Union Leader Correspondent

July 27. 2017 1:53AM
A sign on Route 3 in Whitefield on July 26 implores the NH Site Evaluation Committee to spare the view of the White Mountains to the east that some people say would be threatened if the Northern Pass transmission line is built. The NH Site Evaluation Committee, which will rule on the Northern Pass application, on Thursday and Friday is holding several site visits throughout the North Country and will travel past the sign. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

WHITEFIELD — It’s a little early in the year, but members of the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee will likely see a good amount of orange today and Friday as they roll into the North Country on Northern Pass site visits.

In addition to being required wearing for hunters, orange is the color of the Northern Pass opposition.

Proposed by Eversource, the Northern Pass transmission line would bring hydroelectric power produced by Hydro-Québec in Canada into New Hampshire, and eventually into New England, along a 192-mile route that begins in Pittsburg and ends in Deerfield.

Eversource, whose application is pending before the NHSEC, has said it listened to the public and its proposed route would eliminate “potential visual impacts” in the White Mountain National Forest, the Franconia Notch area, the Rocks Estates area in Bethlehem, and along the Appalachian Trail by burying 52 miles of the line.

The company said it would use 160 miles of existing transportation corridors, “both beneath public roadways and along transmission line corridors where power lines stand today,” while building a new 32-mile transportation corridor on land that Eversource purchased or leased.

Despite what Eversource has repeatedly said are the huge economic benefits of Northern Pass, many people, especially those close to Franconia Notch, remain unconvinced. The opposition argues the project would hurt viewscapes for residents and visitors, and diminish property values.

As part of its Northern Pass application review, the NHSEC has previously held several site visits and today its members, along with a number of intervenors, are taking a bus from the Mountain View Grand Hotel here up Route 3 to the Pittsburg/Clarksville town line for a “walkaround.” Other walkarounds will be held in Stewartstown at Old County Road, the intersection of Creampoke and North Hill roads; Bear Rock Road; and at Coleman State Park.

On Friday, the NHSEC bus travels to Dummer, Stark, Lancaster, Bethlehem, Franconia and Woodstock.

Jack Savage, a spokesman for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, which has been a longtime Northern Pass opponent, said the society will have representatives at both site visits.

“This is a chance for the subcommittee members to see in person what they’ve been reading and hearing testimony about over the last several months,” Savage said.

Eversource spokesman Martin Murray agreed.

“With four visits last year and this additional round, we’re confident that the members of the SEC will have a good understanding of the area and how the project will be located within it,” Murray wrote in an email Wednesday.

General News Energy Whitefield

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