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N. Pass officials want deliberations on transmission project reopened

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

April 27. 2018 11:46PM




CONCORD — Northern Pass officials on Friday filed a request for a state committee to reopen its deliberations on the proposed hydroelectric transmission project that it rejected in February.

The Site Evaluation Committee’s nearly 300-page order “is “replete with errors of fact, reasoning, and law,” project officials said in a 101-page filing with the committee.

They said they deserve another chance to convince the committee to approve the $1.6 billion project because the committee didn’t deliberate on all four required criteria needed to issue an approval and didn’t consider imposing conditions to satisfy the committee’s concerns.

The committee on Feb. 1 unanimously rejected the project, saying that the applicant didn’t meet its burden to show that the 192-mile transmission line — which would cross more than 30 communities — would not “unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region.”

The Northern Pass filing said the committee ignored past practice, never explained or voted on how Northern Pass failed to meet its burden and didn’t consider allocating money from a promised $200 million Forward New Hampshire Fund to satisfy concerns about potential harm to tourism and property values.

“While each subcommittee member concluded his or her discussion in the deliberations by stating that he or she believed that the applicants had not met their burden of proof the record reveals no explanation of what that burden meant to any individual member or the subcommittee as a whole,” the filing said.

The SEC already scheduled a meeting for May 24 and June 4, if necessary, to hear any requests regarding the project, including the expected request for a rehearing by Northern Pass.

“We have presented to the SEC a solution that fully addresses the issues they pointed to in their order denying the permit,” Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan said in a statement. “The solution is a comprehensive set of commitments and conditions ... that can be imposed to address the SEC’s concerns.”

Project foe Jack Savage, with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, said Eversource seems to think it was the committee’s job to make up for the deficiencies in the project and the application.

“The motion reads like they think they’ve been unanimously jilted — the SEC broke up with them and Northern Pass just doesn’t understand why,” Savage said.

The committee’s written report said the project, if built, would have a “negative impact” on land use and would deliver fewer financial benefits than promised.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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