Panel Presses Northern Pass Intervenors To Fill Schedule Gaps

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By Nancy West

CONCORD – Two experts who assessed the local and regional economic impacts of the Northern Pass project for the Counsel for the Public finished testifying on Wednesday, but how the adjudicative hearings will proceed efficiently caused the most concern.

Dr. Nicolas Rockler and Thomas Kavet of Kavet, Rockler Associates of Williamstown, Vt., disagreed with Northern Pass experts about the project’s impact on real estate prices and tourism, but agreed that the project would create jobs in the short term.

In prefiled testimony, Rockler said he did not find the Northern Pass’ analysis by Nichols Tourism Group to be a credible assessment of the project’s potential impact on tourism.

“The applicant’s assessment was based on faulty logic, methodological errors in the analysis of tourism data, four listening sessions with limited participants some of whose views were unreported and largely ignored, an attempt to examine two ‘similar’ transmission projects by the use of flawed methodology that renders the analysis meaningless, and a web-based survey of paid respondents that failed to ask a single question that mentioned, provided a visual simulation, or described a high voltage transmission line, and whose results, when considered with Nichols’ earlier survey on behalf of the State of New Hampshire, supports negative impacts on tourism,” Rockler said.

He and Kavet based their findings on the review of relevant literature, data on New Hampshire tourism and conversations with state tourism experts.

“We concluded that the project could have a measurable negative tourism impact in New Hampshire, especially in the great North Woods region,” Rockler said.

Rockler’s pre-filed testimony found the applicant’s real estate expert, Chalmers & Associates, LLC, and its conclusion that the project will result in “no consistent measurable effects … on the market value of residential real estate” was not credible.

“Their review of existing literature was selective and incomplete. Their local market review and case studies were flawed and unreliable,” Rockler said.

Eversource attorney Barry Needleman cross-examined Rockler and Kavet on Wednesday and members of the committee finished the day questioning them.

The Site Evaluation Committee is working to keep the adjudicative hearings moving quickly as the intervenors began putting on their witnesses.

Witnesses who will be unable to testify next week left a gap in the schedule to fill and some intervenors are concerned about having to call their witnesses on short notice.

Concord’s Deputy City Solicitor Danielle Pacik said it’s not going to be easy to try and round up nine witnesses on short notice.

Michael Iacopino, the attorney representing the evaluation committee, said intervenors will have to work together to fill the schedule when gaps occur.

On Wednesday, for instance, the panel finished at about 3:30 p.m.

The SEC has been forced to extend the deadline to decide whether to grant a permit to the 192-mile high-voltage transmission line from Pittsburg to Deerfield until the end of February 2018.

The $1.6 billion, 1,090 megawatt project to bring Hydro-Quebec electricity to New England was first proposed seven years ago.

Eversource had hoped to have all federal and state permits by the end of the year with construction to begin next year and the transmission line finished by the end of 2020.

If it receives all its permits, project officials said earlier this week, construction could begin in April.

The committee meets again Thursday.


As a public service, publishes the websites for Northern Pass and its opponents at the end of every story along with information about how the adjudicative process works to site new transmission projects and our previous hearing coverage. Sign up for our free Friday newsletter  for Northern Pass and other news that matters in NH.

How The Process Works Before The Site Evaluation Committee

Northern Pass’ website explains the hearings process as follows:

The SEC holds adjudicative hearings to consider and weigh evidence. The applicant has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that a Certificate should be issued. Expert witnesses submit testimony under oath and are subject to cross-examination.

Persons seeking to intervene must file a petition which demonstrates that the “petitioner’s rights, duties, privileges, immunities or other substantial interest might be affected by the proceeding.”

According to Northern Pass’ website: After an extensive adjudicative proceeding, the SEC will issue a Certificate of Site and Facility “if it finds that an applicant has adequate financial, technical, and managerial capability, that a project will not interfere with the orderly development of the region, that the project will not have an unreasonable adverse effect on aesthetics, historic sites, air and water quality, the natural environment, and public health and safety, and that the project will serve the public interest.”

Eversource had hoped to have all federal and state permits by the end of the year with construction to begin next year and the transmission line finished by the end of 2020.

Members of the subcommittee that will decide Northern Pass by a majority vote are Chairman Martin Honigberg, PUC, presiding officer; Commissioner Kathryn Bailey, PUC; Dir. Craig Wright, Department of Environmental Services; Christopher Way, Department of Business and Economic Affairs; William Oldenburg, Department of Transportation; Patricia Weathersby, public member; and Rachel Dandeneau, alternate public member.’s comprehensive coverage of the SEC hearings on Northern Pass.

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
ay 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:, NHPR Talk Northern Pass With John Dankosky
May 31: Day 10: ‘Frac-Out’ Water Pollution Possible When Drilling To Bury Northern Pass
une 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
une 15: Day 16: Speaking Out For and Against Northern Pass From Connecticut to Concord
une 16: Day 17: Forest Society Presses Environmental Benefits of Burying Northern Pass, Yale Responds To Critics About Land Leased To Northern Pass
une 21: Northern Pass Wants Controversial Yale-Bayroot Lease Kept Confidential
June 20: Day 18: Intervenors: Northern Pass Experts Failed To Identify All Impacted Wetlands
une 22: Day 19: Northern Pass Opponents Dominate SEC Hearing
une 23:  Day 20: Northern Pass Seeks 15 More Hearing Days For Total of 57
June 26: 
Day 21: SEC Members Quiz Northern Pass Experts On Wetland Protection
uly 18: Day 22: Northern Pass Expert: Project Wouldn’t Hurt Tourism
uly 19: Day 23: Site Evaluation Committee Members Criticize Northern Pass Expert on Tourism
uly 20: Day 24: Pessamit Innu, Lawmakers, Citizens, Businesses All Have Their Say on Northern Pass
July 21: Day 25: Deputy Solicitor: Northern Pass’ Tax Breaks Not So Great for Concord Property Owners
July 27: More Competition & Northern Pass Commits $10M To Help Low-Income Mass. Customers
July 31: Day 26: Public Counsel Grills Northern Pass Expert On Property Value Impact
Aug. 1: Day 27: Northern Pass’ Real Estate Expert Questioned About Data Accuracy
Aug 2: Day 28: Northern Pass Real Estate Expert Concedes Power Lines ‘Thin The Market’
Aug. 3: Day 29: Northern Pass Expert Asked How 1,284 ‘Significant’ Properties Pared Down to 6
Aug. 9: Day 30: No End In Sight For Hearings on Northern Pass’ Controversial Plan
Aug. 29: Day 31: Intervenors Grill Northern Pass’ Historic Preservation Expert
Aug. 30: Day 32: Passionate People From Concord to Clarksville Speak Against Northern Pass
Aug. 31: Day 33: Panel Postpones Northern Pass Decision For Five More Months
Aug. 31: Committee Blasts Eversource For Late Access To ‘Crucial’ Northern Pass Agreement
Sept. 5: 31 Northern Pass Hearings Added; Delay Prompts Lively Facebook Exchange
Sept. 11: Day 34: Counsel: Northern Pass Expert Failed To Survey Public About Scenery Impact
Sept. 12: Day 35: Northern Pass Expert: Views Could Be Worse If Owners Cut Trees Along Route
Sept. 13: Day 36: Chairman Limits Upcoming Cross-Examination By Northern Pass Intervenors
Sept. 15: Day 37: Visual Expert: Exactly Where 52 Miles Of Northern Pass Would Be Buried Still Unknown
Sept. 18: Day 38: Ex-SEC Chairman Varney Grilled As Northern Pass’ Land Use Expert
Sept. 19: Day 39: SEC Chair: New Evidence Indicates Potential Inaccuracies in Northern Pass’ Burial Plans
Sept. 21: Day 40: Study: Granite State Power Link Bests Northern Pass On CO2 Reductions
Sept. 22: Day 41: Grafton County’s Lara Saffo Asks: Should Landowners Trust Northern Pass?
Sept. 25: Day 42: Panel Chair Accuses Intervenor Of Trying To Delay Northern Pass Hearing
Union Reps Tout Northern Pass Jobs
Sept. 26: Day 43: SEC Member: Northern Pass Could Cost Taxpayers More For Public Construction Projects
Sept. 28: Day 44: Testimony: Northern Pass Would Mean $7M in Tax Revenue to Franklin
EPA: Burying 40 More Miles of Northern Pass May Cost a Bit More, But Better for Wetlands
Sept. 29: Day 45: Northern Pass Construction Experts Questioned About ‘Inaccuracies’ In Burial Plans
Northern Pass: EPA Support for 40 More Miles of Line Burial Won’t Delay Wetlands Permit
Oct. 2: Day 46: Grafton County, Northern Pass Spar Over Sharing Burial Changes With Landowners
Oct. 3: Plymouth Protesters Say No To Northern Pass as State Regulators Pass By Unnoticed

Les Otten: $5M Balsams Loan Required His Testimony For Northern Pass

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