The subcommittee deciding whether the state will approve Northern Pass is holding 11 public technical sessions next month in Concord. But you won’t be allowed to listen if confidential issues are discussed unless you are an intervenor who has signed a confidentiality agreement.
Pam Monroe, administrator of the Site Evaluation Committee, said she and the subcommittee’s attorney Michael Iacopino will moderate the sessions, which are open to the public.
Monroe said if confidential information is to be discussed at the sessions, non-intervenors and intervenors who have not signed a confidentiality agreement will be asked to leave the room.
The sessions are designed as an “informal opportunity for the parties to ask questions of the (Northern Pass) witnesses who have filed testimony in this matter,” according to an SEC agenda dated Aug. 5.
Coos County District 3 Commissioner Rick Samson said he is upset that some important information about the project remains confidential. He is also annoyed that the sessions are being held in Concord, a 180-mile drive from Pittsburg.
“I don’t understand why it has to be confidential. It’s just one more thing to limit transparency. Basically, everything benefits Eversource,” Samson said.
When its joint application was filed, Northern Pass Transmission and Eversource Energy also filed a motion to keep some information confidential, including some financial data, archeological resources data, and information about native plant and animal species.
What has stirred the most public concern is the alleged project benefit information that was redacted from expert Julia Frayer’s pre-filed testimony and a report titled “Cost-Benefit and Local Economic Impact Analysis of the Proposed Northern Pass Transmission Project.”
Frayer is scheduled to be available to answer questions at the technical session called Project Economics and Market Benefits on Sept. 16. If questions to Frayer involve confidential information, only intervenors who have signed a confidentiality agreement will be allowed to stay in the room.
Attorney Iacopino did not return calls seeking comment.
Intervenor Philip Bilodeau, who opposes the project because it would include building a terminus substation near his Deerfield home, said he was unaware that some of the information at the sessions could be kept from the public.
“I will certainly bring that up when I talk to my lawyer tomorrow,” Bilodeau said on Sunday.
It has been difficult keeping up with the Site Evaluation Committee process, he said. “It’s ridiculous. You have to be a full-blown attorney,” Bilodeau said.
Just finding a lawyer to fight Northern Pass in the Concord area was difficult because so many that he contacted had conflicts because of prior work involving Eversource, Bilodeau said.
“When we first became involved, we called 15 attorneys and 13 said they had conflicts. One said he was too busy and retiring, and the other referred us to Scott Hogan in Durham.
“It’s extremely complicated,” Bilodeau said. Hogan now represents him and his wife, Joan.
Northern Pass and Public Service of New Hampshire, doing business as Eversource Energy, have applied to the state Site Evaluation Committee to build a 192-mile transmission line to bring hydro-electricity from the Canadian border in Pittsburg to Deerfield.
In May, subcommittee chairman Martin Honigberg granted Northern Pass’ request to keep portions of Frayer’s pre-filed testimony and the report confidential, subject to certain conditions.
A motion for rehearing the confidentiality order that was filed by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and the city of Concord was denied.
Honigberg’s July 28 order summarized the arguments on both sides.
The city of Concord and the Forest Society unsuccessfully argued that withholding redacted portions of Frayer’s testimony and report is contrary to the law requiring “full and complete disclosure to the public.”
Just making the information available to the parties if they signed a confidentiality agreement “does not cure the failure to ensure full disclosure to the public…,” they argued.
Northern Pass objected to the Forest Society and the city of Concord’s motion, saying it “simply reiterates arguments that have already been addressed by the Presiding Officer, and fails to state any facts demonstrating that rehearing is warranted.”
Honigberg said neither the Forest Society nor the city of Concord would suffer any injury because they both will have access to the redacted information, subject to the conditions in the order.
In the Site Evaluation Committee’s May 25 order, Honigberg said the public’s interest in obtaining Frayer’s information was significant, but outweighed by Eversource’s business interests.
“The applicant’s interest in protecting said limited information is substantial, since the applicant is involved in bidding in the Tri-State Clean Energy RFP,” he wrote. Disclosure could expose the applicant’s bidding strategy, may provide an unfair advantage to the applicant’s competitors, and may ultimately jeopardize the applicant’s ability to be awarded the bid, Honigberg wrote.
He said Northern Pass would advise the subcommittee when the Tri-State Clean Energy RFP bid and award process has concluded and must then either disclose the unredacted versions of Frayer’s redacted information or file a further motion seeking confidential treatment.
Parties may have access to certain confidential information by filing a motion identifying the reason for such access and executing a confidentiality agreement, Honigberg wrote.
The technical sessions will be held at the Capitol Commons, 11 South Main St., third-floor conference room in Concord.
The sessions will be held Sept. 6, 7, 9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, and 30th starting at 9 a.m. each day.
See below for the full schedule of witnesses and the subcommittee’s agenda.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE SITE EVALUATION COMMITTEE
Docket No. 2015-06
August 5, 2016
Joint Application of Northern Pass Transmission, LLC and Public Service Company of New Hampshire
d/b/a Eversource Energy for a Certificate of Site and Facility TECHNICAL SESSION AGENDA
Consistent with the Procedural Schedule issued on June 23, 2016, Technical Sessions will be held in this docket on September 6, 7, 9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, and September 30, 2016. The Technical Sessions shall begin at 9:00 a.m., at 11 South Main Street, Capital Commons, 3rd floor conference room, Concord, New Hampshire. The entrance to the Capital Commons Parking Garage is on Storrs Street.
The Technical Sessions will be an informal opportunity for the parties to ask questions of the Applicant’s witnesses who have filed testimony in this matter.
The following schedule, procedures, and rules shall apply:
1. Schedule of Witnesses.
Sept. 6-System Stability and Reliability
- Robert Andrew (substitute for Bentley)
Sept. 6 (afternoon) and continue on Sept 7, if needed-Public Health and Safety Panel
- William Bailey, Gary Johnson, and Douglas Bell
Sept. 9 – Financial
- Michael Ausere
Sept. 12 and continue on Sept. 14, if needed – Construction Panel
- Kenneth Bowes (substitute for Fortier), Samuel Johnson, Derrick Bradstreet, Nathan Scott, John Kayser, and Lynn Farrington
Sept. 15 – Historical Resources Panel
- Cherilyn Widell and Victoria Bunker
Sept. 16 – Proiect Economics and Market Benefits
- Julia Frayer
Sept. 19 – Orderly Development Panel
- Robert Varney, Lisa Shapiro, James Chalmers, Mitch Nichols
Sept. 20 and continue on Sept. 22, if needed – Environmental Panel
- Robert Varney, Jacob Tinus, Lee Carbonneau, Dennis Magee, Sarah Barnum
Sept. 21- Proiect Route Selection, Forward NH Plan, NH-Specific Benefits, Clean Energy RFP, etc.,
- William Quinlan and James Muntz
Sept. 30 – Aesthetics Panel
- Terrence DeWan and Jessica Kimball
- Order of Inquiry. The order of inquiry for each witness/panel will be as follows:
|Counsel for the Public||Thomas Pappas|
|Municipal Group I –North||Steve Ellis|
|Municipal Group I-South||Steven Whitley|
|Municipal Group 2||C. Christine Fillmore|
|Municipal Group 3-North||Steven Whitley|
|Municipal Group 3-South||Danielle Pacik|
|City of Franklin and City of Berlin||Chris Boldt|
|Grafton County Commissioners||Lara Saffo|
|Society for the Protection of NH Forests||Amy Manzelli|
|Appalachian Mountain Club, Conservation Law Foundation, and Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust||Melissa Birchard|
|Abutting Property Owners (underground portion), Clarksville-Stewartstown||Bradley Thompson|
|Abutting Property Owners (overhead portion), Dummer, Stark, and Northumberland||Susan Percy|
|Abutting Property Owners (overhead portion), Whitefield, Dalton, and Bethlehem||David Van Houten|
|Abutting Property Owners (underground portion), Bethlehem to Plymouth||Walter Palmer|
|Abutting Property Owners (overhead portion), Ashland, Northfield, Canterbury, Allenstown, and Concord||Michelle Kleindienst|
|Abutting Property Owners (overhead portion), Deerfield||Robert Cote|
|Phillip and Joan Bilodeau||Scott Hogan|
|Non-Abutting Property Owners (overhead portion), Clarksville and Stewartstown||Alan Robert Baker|
|Non-Abutting Property Owners (overhead portion), Stark, Lancaster, Whitefield, Dalton, and Bethlehem||Rebecca More|
|Non-Abutting Property Owners (underground portion), Bethlehem to Plymouth
|Spokesperson has not been named
Lee Sullivan & Stephen Buzzell
Timothy and Rebecca Burbank, Edward Cenerizio, Deborah Corey and Matthew Steele
James H. Page Jr.
|Non-Abutting Property Owners (overhead portion) Ashland to Deerfield||Charlotte Crane|
|Sugar Hill Historical Museum, NH Preservation Alliance and National Trust for Histroric Preservation, North Country Scenic Byways Council||Sharee Williamson|
|Cate Street Capital, IBEW, Coos County Business and Employers Group, North Country Chamber of Commerce, and Dixville Capital, LLC and Balsams Resort Holdings, LLC||Alan Raff|
|Wagner Forest||Mike Novello|
|Pemigewasset River Local Advisory Committee||Max Stamp|
- Inquiries shall be in a question form and shall not be argumentative.
Repetitive questions or inquiries will not be allowed. Questions and inquiries to witnesses should be limited to issues pertaining to the witness’s field of expertise, pre-filed testimony, and should be within the scope of the adjudicative proceeding. Questions regarding qualifications of witnesses will also be allowed. If a proper question or inquiry cannot be answered at the time of the Technical Session, the parties will attempt to agree to a date by which the answer must be provided in writing. Said answers are to be distributed to the parties only service list and shall not be copied to the Committee.
- Counsel for the Committee. Counsel for the Committee will mediate any disputes regarding inquiries and requests for information, and will maintain a list of documents or additional answers requested by the parties. To the extent that any party is aggrieved by the handling of any inquiry, question or document request, that party shall file an appropriate motion for discovery, objection to discovery, or motion for a protective order. All motions and/or objections shall be directed to the presiding officer and shall comply with the Committee’s Procedural Rules and the Procedural Order issued in this docket.
Any questions should be directed to Counsel for the Committee:
Michael J. Iacopino, Esq.
Brennan Lenehan Iacopino & Hickey 85 Brook Street
Manchester, NH 03104
(603) 668-8300 (office)
(603) 496-4455 (cell)
(603) 668-1029 (fax)
August 5, 2016
Pamela G. Monroe, Administrator Site Evaluation Committee