Project Official: Northern Pass Construction Limited To 7 am to 7 pm, Noise Assessed Daily

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By GARRY RAYNO

CONCORD — Northern Pass transmission project officials reassured communities Wednesday the final design and construction plan would incorporate changes needed to address problems raised at hearings this week.

The Site Evaluation Committee is holding adjudicative hearings on the $1.6 billion, 192-mile high voltage transmission project to bring Hydro-Quebec electricity to the New England power grid.

This week a panel of construction experts answered questions about the project raised by intervenors, including the Counsel for the Public, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, municipalities, business groups, abutters and others.

The discussion Wednesday concerned the overhead section of the line from Bridgewater to Deerfield, while Tuesday’s discussion centered on the buried portion of the line between Bethlehem and Bridgewater.

Kenneth Bowes, Eversource Vice President of Engineering, told intervenors Wednesday the construction plan addresses noise concerns along the entire overhead route by limiting construction hours to 7 a.m to 7 p.m., that construction equipment would meet federal guidelines for noise and would be assessed every day.

And he said six weeks before construction begins, area residents will be contacted to explain what types of activity will take place and then contacted again the week of construction to discuss any issues that might arise.

Attorney Steve Whitley pressed officials about the location of towers next to the Ashland wastewater treatment plant and the construction road noting they interfered with state-monitored test wells at the site.

Bowes assured him the towers would be moved as would the road to protect the monitoring wells, but rejected Whitley’s suggestion that previous work on the distribution system in the adjacent right-of-way would have damaged the waste lagoons at the site.

The lagoons lose about 50,000 gallons a day into the groundwater that flows toward the nearby Pemigewasset River.

Northern Pass officials also agreed to move several tower locations in the final design for towers in the Pembroke area, but said they are somewhat limited in what they can do in that area due to the 150-foot right-of-way.

The proposed transmission line would share the right-of-way with the existing distribution lines that have to be separated so they do not interfere with each other.

As a result of the separation requirement and the size of the right-of-way, the section of line near the Allenstown boundary has some of the tallest towers along the route ranging from 120 to 140 feet.

Whitley asked why the company did not seek to expand the right-of-way as it did in other areas along the route in order to lower the tower height.

Lead project engineer Samuel Johnson said they would need to have agreements with abutting landowners for two or three miles along the route in order to expand the right-of-way to lower the height.

Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray said only one hold out among the abutters could stop the right-of-way expansion.

The final day of construction discussion is Thursday.

The next adjudicative hearing will be held May 31, which will be the beginning of three straight days of hearings on environmental issues.


Garry Rayno can be reached at garry.rayno@yahoo.com.

Don’t miss every other Friday: Garry Rayno’s  column Distant Dome runs exclusively on Manchester Ink Link and InDepthNH.org, where Rayno explores a broader perspective on State House – and state – happenings. Over his three-decade career Rayno has closely covered the NH State House for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Foster’s Daily Democrat, and his coverage spanned the news spectrum, from local planning, school and select boards, to national issues such as electric industry deregulation and Presidential primaries. He is former editor of The Hillsboro Messenger and Assistant Editor of The Argus-Champion. Rayno graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in English Literature and lives with his wife Carolyn in New London.

InDepthNH.org’s recent coverage of the Northern Pass hearings. For older stories, see our comprehensive coverage on our Northern Pass page.

April 13, Day 1: Eversource NH Chief Quinlan On The Hot Seat At Northern Pass Hearing
April 14, Day 2: Eversource Chief Questioned About ‘Clean’ Energy Claims And Northern Pass Costs
April 17: Day 3: Eversource: Hydro-Quebec Revenues Could Fall Short In Northern Pass’ First Year
April 18: Day 4: Northern Pass’ Potential Health Concerns Debated At Hearing
April 19: Day 5: Concerns Raised About Northern Pass Affecting Health of Sherburne Woods Residents in Deerfield
April 30: Is NH Getting ‘Hoodwinked’ on Health and Safety By Northern Pass?
May 1: Day 6: Testimony: 44 New Access Roads Needed To Build 192-Mile Northern Pass in NH
May 2: Day 7: Northern Pass Expert: 3 Months of Construction Likely In Downtown Plymouth
May 3: Eversource’s Chief Quinlan Listed as ‘Host’ For Sununu Fundraiser

Garry Rayno can be reached at garry.rayno@yahoo.com.

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