House Lawmakers OK Bill Encouraging Buried Powerlines

Jan 22, 2014

Credit NHPR Staff

Update: The House Ways and Means Committee Chair, Susan Almy, has declined to take up this bill, meaning it moves directly to the Senate

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed a bill that establishes a preference for burying power lines like the controversial Northern Pass Project.

Representative Susan Ford from Easton, which sits along the proposed route of the Northern Pass, told legislators that they should embrace new technologies that allow power lines to be buried. “We should explore all the alternatives before permanently changing the New Hampshire landscape,” she said in a speech from the well.

The bill would direct the committee which evaluates energy proposals to prefer the use of public rights of way over private ones and buried lines instead of overhead ones. If it becomes law a developer could still build overhead lines, but would be required to show evidence that a buried line is not feasible.

The bill, which passed on a vote of 171-139, was originally slated to head to the Ways and Means committee and face a second vote before the full house, but on Thursday the chair of that committee,  D - Susan Almy declined to take the bill. It will now go directly to the Senate.

In a statement sent out after the vote, Northern Pass spokeswoman Lauren Collins wrote that the second vote will give the House another chance to consider the full impacts of the bill, "We should be doing what we can to foster renewable development, not stand in the way with a bill that goes against good public policy."