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September 11. 2013 11:47PM

Northern Pass hearing location changed

The state's Congressional delegation on Tuesday asked the U.S. Department of Energy to change the location of a hearing scheduled on the Northern Pass, and within hours the request was granted.

A "scoping session" for the project, designed to help the DOE obtain public input for an environmental impact statement, has been moved from a restaurant in West Stewartstown to Colebrook Elementary School.

The delegation, which has been particularly active on Northern Pass issues recently, issued a joint statement around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, urging the DOE to relocate the hearing "to give constituents and all stakeholders a reasonable opportunity to raise concerns and comment on the Northern Pass Transmission proposal."

The state's two senators and two representatives wrote that constituents had raised concerns about the lack of space at the West Stewartstown venue, where one of four sessions was to be held.Within three hours, the DOE announced the Thursday, Sept. 26, meeting previously scheduled for West Stewartstown had been moved to a larger venue — Colebrook Elementary School, 27 Dumont St., from 5 to 8 p.m.

The other three sessions remain as scheduled: in Concord at the Grappone Conference Center, 70 Constitution Ave., on Monday, Sept. 23, from 6 to 9 p.m.; in Plymouth at Plymouth State University, Silver Center for the Arts, Hanaway Theater, 17 High St., on Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 5 to 8 p.m.; and in Whitefield at the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa, Presidential Room, 101 Mountain View Road, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Thousands of residents turned out at scoping hearings held for the original route in 2011, and a strong turnout is expected for the upcoming sessions as well, given the controversy surrounding the plan to bring hydro power from Quebec into the New England grid, through New Hampshire.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, along with Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster, requested that the fourth scoping hearing be moved from West Stewartstown to the larger venue in Colebrook.

The delegation wrote. "In order to ensure the public has an opportunity to meaningfully comment, we respectfully request that you consider moving the hearing to a larger venue such as Colebrook Elementary School gymnasium in Colebrook, New Hampshire."

Information about the Northern Pass environmental impact statement can be obtained from DOE's website at northernpasseis.us. Information on the public scoping meetings is available from Brian Mills at 202-586-8267 or by email at Brian.Mills@hq.doe.gov.

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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