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Northern Pass asks court to force reconsideration of transmission project

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 11. 2018 11:32AM




CONCORD — Northern Pass submitted an appeal to the state Supreme Court on Friday in an effort to force a state committee to reconsider its rejection of the proposed $1.6 billion hydroelectric transmission line.

“If allowed to stand, the orders will erect major obstacles to the siting of new energy projects in this state, as the process becomes a popularity contest instead of one bound by the rule of law,” the 150-page appeal said.

The state Site Evaluation Committee unanimously rejected the project on Feb. 1, and on May 24 rejected requests to reconsider its decision and resume deliberations.

The 192-mile Northern Pass route, which includes 60 miles underground, would run from Pittsburg to Deerfield through more than 30 communities.

“Northern Pass proponents believe that a favorable court ruling will enable the project to return to the SEC for further review in 2019,” said a Northern Pass statement issued Friday.

In its appeal, Northern Pass attorneys said future applicants before the committee “will need to prepare and present their applications in a regulatory vacuum where key terms are undefined, and where the SEC rules offer no guide.”

Relevant information may be ignored and applicants won’t be able to rely on their ability, or that of the SEC, to propose conditions to mitigate impacts, according to the appeal.

“Given this uncertain and shifting landscape, no reasonable person would invest the time and resources to develop much-needed energy infrastructure in New Hampshire,” the appeal 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.

Project officials have said the committee should have deliberated on all four criteria required for the project to receive a needed state certificate and should have considered conditions that could have helped eliminate or reduce concerns of committee members.

“It sure sounds like the last gasp of a dead project,” said project foe Jack Savage, vice president of communications and outreach with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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