On Tuesday, July 21, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its long-awaited draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) examining the proposed Northern Pass transmission project and its possible modes of construction.
The draft EIS revealed that the cheapest option for Northern Pass construction would be the proposed method of above ground lines, at a cost of approximately $1.02 billion. But this option was also found to negatively impact the environmental and visual landscape of its proposed route, according to the DOE. The visual impact caused by the overhead route would likely negatively impact New Hampshire’s tourism and recreation industries, as well as residential property values with the least amount of tax benefit to affected communities. In short, the draft EIS calls for further burial of the Northern Pass transmission line.
Eversource Energy, the company that will deliver energy solutions through the Northern Pass, remains enthusiastic about the future of the project, commenting in a post on the company’s Northern Pass website:
“It reaffirms that the project will address the critical needs concerning New Hampshire and the region’s energy supply by providing a diverse, base load supply of low-carbon electricity. Moreover, the DOE recognizes that the project must strike an appropriate balance between project cost, impact and benefits. This echoes what we have been hearing over the last year from the many New Hampshire citizens we’ve spoken to.
“The focus now turns to our state permitting process. And, our intention now is to bring to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee a proposal which strikes the necessary balance and that will be broadly supported.”
The Northern Pass requires both federal and state approval, and the draft EIS is just one part of a longer permitting process. While no routes have been finalized, Northern Pass officials continue to discuss project options and hope to announce a finalized route (which most likely will include further burial) in a few weeks. Once the route is finalized, the state permitting process will begin.
The public has 90 days to comment on the EIS, double the typical 45-day allowance. The DOE will review all comments before it issues a final presidential permit, so make your voice heard and make a comment.
Follow the link below to learn about how to comment on the DOE’s EIS: