By Nancy West
CONCORD – With 42 hearing days already scheduled for Northern Pass Transmission to make its case before the Site Evaluation Committee, the project asked Friday for 15 more days to be sandwiched in during July, August and early September – and for evening sessions.
Already, the subcommittee hearing Northern Pass’ application to build a controversial 192-mile high-voltage transmission line from Pittsburg to Deerfield, has held 18 full days of adjudicative hearings in Concord with two half-days for the public to comment since April 13.
According to the motion filed by Northern Pass attorney Thomas Getz on Friday, many intervenors are opposed to at least part of the proposal. Some travel great distances from the North Country to attend the Concord hearings and have been planning testimony, exhibits and experts for months and sometimes years.
Also on Friday, intervenors continued for the fourth day to cross-examine the project’s environmental panel about the impact of bringing 1,090 megawatts of electricity from Hydro-Quebec through New Hampshire to the New England grid.
Grafton County Attorney Lara Saffo, representing the Grafton County Commissioners, questioned the panel about the requirement that full and timely consideration on environmental consequences be considered.
“One of the issues we’ve been struggling with is the project seems to evolve over time. Do you understand what I mean,” Saffo asked panel member Bob Varney.
Varney, the former EPA New England regional administrator, now works for Normandeau Associates, the firm hired by Northern Pass on environmental issues.
“So it makes it kind of a moving target as far as putting our heads around the entire project …,” Saffo said.
Varney said the project is continuing to work with homeowners, communities and interested parties as needed.
Saffo asked panel member Lee Carbonneau, also of Normandeau Associates, if all of the environmental impacts were set forth in the project’s 2015 application.
There have been changes since then, Carbonneau answered, adding the SEC and appropriate agencies have been kept up to date.
“Do you anticipate doing that more in the future?” Saffo asked.
Carbonneau: “Only if necessary.”
Intervenors from Deerfield and New Hampton were also among questioners on Friday.
Barry and Gretchen Draper brought tadpoles in a petri dish from a vernal pool in New Hampton.
Barry Draper also submitted pre-filed testimony as an intervenor with the Pemigewasset River Local Advisory Committee.
“The Northern Pass Transmission Lines project impacts eight of the river corridor communities within PRLAC’s jurisdiction from Thornton to Hill,” Draper wrote. “The greatest amount of construction activity within the protected shoreland happens on the Pemigewasset River in Campton, Ashland and New Hampton. This is where I live. I feel compelled to act.”
The SEC has already extended the deadline for three months to Sept. 30 in which the committee must give thumbs up or down to the Northern Pass Transmission/Eversource Energy project.
“The Applicants recognize the many challenges to the Subcommittee in conducting a proceeding of this magnitude and importance, including potential difficulties in assembling a quorum, as well as the challenges to the parties, many of whom are appearing pro se, in participating in such a proceeding,” Getz wrote.
Over the many months of the proceeding, the schedule was adjusted for a variety of reasons, but by law the seven-member committee must be finished by Sept. 30.
He went on to say that although nearly half the hearing days have been consumed, a number of the applicants’ witnesses have yet to be examined and all of Counsel for the Public’s and the Intervenors’ witnesses yet to be examined.
Cross-examination has taken much longer than expected, Getz wrote.
Getz said the IBEW supports the motion. He said the following parties oppose the motion, at least in so far as it seeks to extend the hours of hearings: Municipal Groups 1 South, 2, 3 South, and 3 North; Grafton County Commissioners; Counsel for the Public; the NGO Intervenors; Forest Society; PRLAC; National Trust for Historic Preservation; Deerfield Abutters; McKenna’s Purchase; Southem Non-Abutters, Ashland to Deerfield; Abutting and Non-Abutting Property Owners Bethlehem to Plymouth; Whitefield to Bethlehem Abutters; Non-Abutting Property Owners Stark to Bethlehem; Dummer, Stark and Northumberland Abutters; and, Combined Property Owners Pittsburg, Clarksville and Stewartstown.
Some either do not oppose or support the motion insofar as it seeks additional hearing days in general but may not support the applicants’ specific request, including: Abutting Property Owners Bethlehem to Plymouth; Combined Property Owners Pittsburg, Clarksville and Stewartstown; and Dummer, Stark and Northumberland Abutters, Getz wrote.
InDepthNH.org’s previous stories about the SEC hearings.
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: Day 8: Project Official: Northern Pass Construction Limited To 7 am to 7 pm, Noise Assessed Daily
May 3: Eversource’s Chief Quinlan Listed as ‘Host’ For Sununu Fundraiser
May 4: Day 9: Grafton County Attorney Grills Northern Pass Experts On Land Buys
May 5: Day 9, story 2: Common Man’s Alex Ray: Northern Pass Disruption in Plymouth Would Be ‘Fatal’ To Business
May 8: Forest Society Calls Northern Pass Inflated Land Buys a ‘Shell Game’
May 25: Hydro-Quebec Explores Opportunities in New England, New York
May 31: InDepthNH.org, NHPR Talk Northern Pass With John Dankosky
May 31: Day 10: ‘Frac-Out’ Water Pollution Possible When Drilling To Bury Northern Pass
June 1: Day 11: Applicant: Northern Pass Would Mitigate Impact On Endangered State Butterfly
June 8: Day 12: Counsel for the Public: Northern Pass Financial Expert’s Perspective ‘Unnaturally Optimistic’
June 9: Day 13: Portions of Northern Pass Hearings Held In Closed Session, Again
June 12: Public Statement Hearings On Northern Pass Begin June 15
June 13: Day 14: Analyst: Customer Using 300 kw Would Save $1.50 a Month With Northern Pass
June 14: Day 15: Regulator: Committee Could Consider Conditioning Approval for Northern Pass
June 15: Day 16: Speaking Out For and Against Northern Pass From Connecticut to Concord
June 16: Day 17: Forest Society Presses Environmental Benefits of Burying Northern Pass, Yale Responds To Critics About Land Leased To Northern Pass
June 21: Northern Pass Wants Controversial Yale-Bayroot Lease Kept Confidential
June 20: Day 18: Intervenors: Northern Pass Experts Failed To Identify All Impacted Wetlands
June 22: Day 19: Northern Pass Opponents Dominate SEC Hearing
For more information about InDepthNH.org, which is published online by the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism, contact Nancy West at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 603-738-5635