State regulators will begin final deliberations Wednesday on a proposed Seacoast transmission line.
Eversource's Seacoast Reliability Project would span about 13 miles between Portsmouth and Madbury, with one mile buried beneath Little Bay.
The utility first applied to build the $84 million power line in 2016. The state Site Evaluation Committee, which must approve large energy developments, has been taking testimony on it ever since.
The project is Eversource's answer to a mandate for more reliable infrastructure in the region. But opponents worry it will hurt the Piscataqua River ecosystem and neighbors’ property values.
Under state law, site evaluators must weigh the project’s financial viability, its impacts to aesthetics, tourism and the environment along its route, and whether it’ll interfere with orderly development in the region.
That last criterion was what sank Eversource’s Northern Pass proposal after only brief deliberations earlier this year. That controversial project is currently awaiting appeal at the state Supreme Court.
The SEC has only ever denied a certificate to one other project – Antrim Wind, which later re-applied with a revised plan and was approved.
Regulators could impose conditions for construction of the Seacoast project as part of their decision. Either way, an appeals process is likely to follow.
Deliberations are scheduled for up to six days over the next three weeks.