Feds Release First Look At Environmental Impact Of Northern Pass

Jul 21, 2015

The Department of Energy has released a long-awaited draft of its Environmental Impact Statement examining the Northern Pass project as well as alternatives including complete or partial burial.

The agency found that full burial of the lines would have the smallest impact visually but would be about twice as expensive.

However, it would also provide about 1,500 jobs, almost twice as many as putting the lines overhead.

Eversource’s current proposal with above-ground lines would have the greatest visual impact, the report said, but would do the most to lower electricity costs in New Hampshire and the region.

Vermont Law School professor Patrick Parenteau says this is a key document when it comes to the DOE’s decision on whether to allow the project to proceed.

“It’s a pretty good indication of the agency’s thinking on the project.”

All the alternatives raised by the DOE involved burying - to some degree - the transmission lines.

The report also notes tourism and property values would be hurt by the overhead lines proposed by Northern Pass, something company officials have denied.

Burying the lines would protect property values but cause  “substantial, short-term” impacts on traffic.

The public has 90 days to comment and the DOE will next hold public hearings in Whitefield and Plymouth in October.