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Northern Pass application 'incomplete'

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 18. 2013 11:12PM

Three environmental groups and the trade association representing competitive electric generating companies on Wednesday urged the Department of Energy to reject the amended application for the Northern Pass hydroelectric project.

The revised application for a presidential permit, based on a new route for the project unveiled in June, will be the subject of upcoming hearings in the state by the DOE.

In their joint comments, the Conservation Law Foundation, Appalachian Mountain Club and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests say the amended application fails to offer a single alternative to the project; fails to provide required information on its environmental impacts; and is full of unsubstantiated assertions and improper legal arguments.

"Despite the passage of three years, thousands of public comments questioning many aspects of the project, and millions of the applicant's dollars spent on property acquisitions and public relations, the amended application is incomplete and inconsistent with DOE regulations," wrote attorneys for the three groups.

"The applicant's aim here is to avoid any genuinely comprehensive and rigorous review of the many reasonable alternatives suggested in public comments, rendering DOE's review of the Northern Pass project a hollow if not meaningless exercise."

The New England Power Generators Association (NEPGA) filed similar comments, challenging the application as incomplete and full of inaccuracies.

"Northern Pass makes a series of claims of likely impacts from the project for which it either does not provide substantiation for, or relies upon admittedly out-dated information," according to the NEPGA brief. "In particular, Northern Pass misrepresents the likely impact of the reduction in wholesale power prices, CO2 emissions and the region's use of natural gas."

PSNH spokesman Martin Murray said the NEPGA opposition is motivated by the commercial interests of its members, while the environmental groups are being inconsistent given their past support for hydroelectric power.

"NEPGA wants to stop the process because when Northern Pass succeeds, NEPGA's more expensive power plants won't be as profitable as they are today," he said. "It's also somewhat curious that SPNHF would question the clear benefits of the project, since the Forest Society voted several years ago, as part of the state's Climate Action Task Force, to build a new transmission line from Canada into New Hampshire. The Northern Pass is exactly the type of project the Forest Society advocated."

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