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Feds get Northern Pass route(s)

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 04. 2013 10:26PM

Northern Pass partners submitted their amended application to the federal Department of Energy on July 1, just three days after unveiling a new route for the controversial hydroelectric project that calls for laying eight miles of transmission line underground along existing roadways in the North Country.

The amended application reflects key developments in the project since the filing of the original application in October 2010, and contains a description of an alternative route that would require an easement through the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Conservation area.

Northern Pass partners say they have no intention of pursuing the alternative route, and presented it as a formality.

"We realize this alternative is both politically and emotionally sensitive," the partners state in a July 2 post on their Northern Pass website. "However, the federal (application) process requires an alternatives analysis, and it is important to list any plan that was thoroughly researched and that could be legally and technically viable, as is the case with this alternative."

The alternative would follow the route of properties that have been purchased in Clarksville and Stewartstown by the real estate subsidiary of Northern Pass, and is consistent with the path followed by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests in efforts to acquire easements that would block the project.

"We do not have the authority to use Connecticut Lakes Headwaters property," the July 2 posting states. "Any uses of it depends on consent of Connecticut Lakes Realty Trust and the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, and we have made no formal request to the state to use the Connecticut Lakes property."

The alternative route proceeds south and then east from property owned by Northern Pass in Clarksville, continues onto Route 145 and progresses along Old County Road into Stewartstown, where it would continue onto North Hill Road, Bear Rock Road and to other property Northern Pass owns.

It would then proceed east and then south almost entirely on Northern Pass property, with the exception of approximately 100 feet of land in the conservation area.

"Overhead is not a viable option there, and Connecticut Lakes Realty Trust and the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development would have to consent to the construction of an underground segment across that short distance. For constructability and visibility purposes the underground segment would be approximately 1,100 feet long," the application states.

Northern Pass holds only a 62 percent interest in one of the parcels along the alternate route. "If it were pursuing this alternative route, Northern Pass would have to sue for partition to obtain the right to construct on that parcel," the company said.

Near Concord Airport

The application also states that Northern Pass will seek permission to run lines near the Concord Airport on an existing right of way, which was originally designated as an alternative route in the southern section.

"Thus we no longer need or support use of the route through Concord, Pembroke and Chichester as was originally proposed in order to avoid the area near the airport," the application states.

The application also describes various alternatives to Northern Pass, and claims that all of them "suffer from some combination of significant technical, economic, legal, environmental and practical challenges that would result in abandonment of the project and would otherwise fail to meet the purpose and need for which the project has been designed."

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