Town Manager Todd Selig has negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Eversource to protect the interests of the Town of Durham if the NH Site Evaluation Committee ultimately approves the proposed Eversource Seacoast Reliabilty project.
The Seacoast Reliability Project would create a 115-kilowatt transmission line over about 13 miles connecting the Madbury and Portsmouth substations. The proposed line would pass through Madbury, Durham, Newington and Portsmouth along existing utility corridors, with the bulk of the project traversing Durham and Newington. If approved, Eversource anticipates it can complete its $85 million project in less than a year.
Several key portions of the MOU are outlined below…
Section V. D. of the Agreement provides for a Field Engineer, which we believe will be important in holding Eversource accountable and supplementing our limited local resources if the project is ultimately approved by the SEC as follows: “The Town has the option to hire or assign a mutually agreed upon engineering consultant or consultants to observe the Project and act as a liaison between Eversource and the Town (“Field Engineer”). Eversource agrees to pay the Town’s expenses for the Field Engineer for work directly related to the Project. If the Town exercises this option . . .such expenditure shall not exceed $50,000.”
Section V. H. 2. deals with hours of operation. “Construction of the Project Facilities shall typically be between the hours of 7:00 am and 6:00 pm Monday through Friday, and between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm on Saturday. . . .”
Section VII A. addresses Wildlife Protection. “As applicable, prior to commencing construction, Eversource shall provide the Town with copies of all protocols and plans for post-construction monitoring and impact mitigation related to wildlife that are contained in any permit condition or as a condition of the Certificate of Site and Facility issued by the NHSEC.”
Section VIII. Historic Resources, endeavors to address concerns that have not been satisfied by requirements imposed by the NH Division of Historic Resources in terms of protecting local historic resources.
- Eversource shall take all appropriate and necessary steps to avoid and/or minimize impacts to historic resources in the Town of Durham. Of particular concern are historic stonewalls and cellars that cross the Easement. Eversource shall monitor work adjacent to historic stone walls and cellars as an additional means of avoiding and/or minimizing impacts to said resources during construction. In addition, Eversource shall comply with the final Historic Properties Monitoring Plan, Unanticipated Discovery Plan, Historic Properties Training Plan, and Curation and Repatriation Plan agreed upon with the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources.
In the event that new information or evidence of historic sites, archeological sites, or other archeological resources is found within the direct area of potential effect of the Project in Durham, Eversource shall report said findings to the NHSEC, NHDHR and provide the Town of Durham and the Durham Historic Association (“DHA”) with notice that a report has been filed.
- In the event that changes in construction plans of the Project affect any archeological resources, historic sites, or other cultural resources, Eversource shall notify the NHSEC, NHDHR and the Town of Durham of any such change.
- Eversource shall take all necessary and appropriate steps to protect the following historic resources in Durham: (1) the stone walls listed in Mark Doperalski’s letter to the Durham Historic Association dated May 17, 2018 shall be protected and walls situated in wetlands in Durham shall be protected by timber mats; (2) Impacts to other historic stone walls or boundary stone walls within the right-of-way or along access roads shall be avoided through the implementation of one or more of the following measures to include: (a) not traversing the wall, (b) traversing the wall through an existing breach, (c) traversing the wall using timber matting to temporarily bridge over the wall, or (d) placing the work pad on top of timber matting to elevate the work pad above the wall; (3) Eversource shall conduct a ground penetrating radar survey of the Samuel Hill family burial site described in the 1913 town history to avoid digging up the 18th century graves by the Field House from Main Street to Station 82+00 within the right-of-way and the Applicant shall comply with all requirements of the Unanticipated Discovery Plan, Appendix C to the Memorandum of Understanding Between New Hampshire State Preservation Officer and Eversource Energy; (4) the “Quarry Sensitive Area” boundary shall expanded west by approximately 150 feet on Environmental Map 15 of 21 to include the Quarrymen’s granite slab bench near the top of the steep quarry cut, and the bench shall be flagged prior to construction to ensure that the bench is protected; (5) the Applicant shall also use timber matting on the Class VI portion of Beech Hill road and protect historic stonewalls and wetlands; and (6) on Foss Farm Road, the Applicant shall use timber matting from Stevens Way to the UNH Gate to avoid impacts to the Class VI Road, shall undertake only tree-limbing, and shall protect historic stonewalls and wetlands.
This agreement also provides an important financial guarantee to protect local Durham roadways in Section IX. A. as follows: “Prior to commencing road weight limit exceedance truck travel in Durham and prior to any road excavation in Durham, Eversource shall provide the Town Administrator with a bond for a period of twenty-four months from the date of completion. The Parties agree the bond value shall be $500,000. This bond shall be a financial guarantee to cover any damage due to road weight limit exceedance, and to ensure proper town road and right-of-way excavation and restoration.”
“It is my belief that executing this MOU is in the best interest of Durham, rather than hoping the SEC will perhaps support Durham’s perspectives at some point in the future,” stated Selig.
The NH Site Evaluation Committee will begin its formal deliberations on the merits of the proposed project November 28 in Concord.
A copy of the complete executed MOU can be found here.