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Northern Pass Re-draws Route Map

The controversial Northern Pass project has re-mapped a portion of its proposed route.

The developer says the revised transmission route carrying hydroelectric power from Quebec into New England addresses environmental and economic concerns.

But opponents still call it a bad deal for the North Country.

To build the Northern Pass, Public Service of New Hampshire would use about 147 miles of its existing right-of-way, but needs access to about 32 more miles through New Hampshire.

Opponents say the overhead transmission lines would ruin the scenic character of the region. But Public Service of New Hampshire  spokesman Martin Murray says the new, less populated eastern route will not need  as much new land  as originally proposed, and will include over seven miles of underground lines.

Murray says the new route will bring, “A much more significant infusion of tax revenue because the underground technology is quite expensive." He says that will mean more money for some towns along the route.

But for many opponents, the tax benefits are outweighed by environmental concerns.

Cristophe Courchesne is a staff attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation, a leading opponent of Northern Pass. He says the revised route, even with buried lines, is still unacceptable.

“It simply just re-drew a line north of Groveton and left most of the project exactly as it was before,” Courchesne said.

The Conservation Law Foundation says overhead lines would still cross the protected White Mountain National Forest and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, among other conservation areas.

CLF rejects the company’s claim that the new transmission lines will lower electric bills, and blasts the utility for relying on what it calls “dirty and inefficient power plants.” 

PSNH counters that the 1.4 billion dollar project will be financed by its developers, not by ratepayers, and will deliver cleaner, cheaper  energy and create jobs. The federal and state permitting process could be lengthy, because the utility does not currently have rights to use state and local roads.

Meanwhile, opponents of the project are trying to block it with strategic land purchases.

Related Stories:

Group Attempts to Block Northern Pass Project

Developer Says Northern Pass Brings Clean Energy

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.
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