Forest Society Calls on New Hampshire SEC to Deny Northern Pass

Post-hearing memo documents the overwhelming unreasonable adverse impacts and voluminous and significant legal deficiencies in the application for Northern Pass, and urges Site Evaluation Committee to deny the requested Certificate of Site and Facility.

January 12, 2018

Concord, NH Jan. 12, 2018 – The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society), a intervenor in the formal decision-making process for the Northern Pass transmission line proposal, called on the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) to deny the applicant’s request for a Certificate of Site and Facility that would allow the 192-mile line to be built.

Applicant proposes to site this proposed project in a way which would pervasively and permanently[1] scar the northern two thirds of our state with towers and transmission lines that cut through unique forest ecosystems and rise well above the tree canopy, making industrial infrastructure starkly visible within too many of New Hampshire’s rural landscapes from Pittsburg to Londonderry, only to provide purported benefits that would primarily be enjoyed—not in New Hampshire—but in other states and Canada,” the memorandum states.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Northern Pass’s application for the transmission line as proposed is fatally flawed,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. “For the seven subcommittee members of the SEC to vote to deny that application should be a slam dunk.”

The Forest Society’s memorandum summarizes a situation in which Northern Pass, faced with a changing energy market and competition from other transmission developers, pushed its application to the SEC forward without having fully scoped the proposal or gathered the requisite information in order to bid for guaranteed contracts such as the so-called Mass RFP.

The memorandum demonstrates that the record of the SEC process that the Subcommittee should deny the application for three major reasons:

1. The application as originally filed and all supplementation to it through the close of the record, is deficient. The Applicant did not provide the Subcommittee with information the law requires it to have provided. Thus, Applicant has not met its burden of proof.

2. Evidence introduced by Counsel for the Public, Intervenors, and public comments affirmatively establishes the proposed project would result in unreasonable adverse effects, undue interference, and would not serve the public interest.

3. Alternatives exist for transmitting electricity from Quebec to southern New England. They would be less damaging to the State of New Hampshire and likely less expensive to the ratepayers of New England, than the project Applicant has proposed. Applicant itself chose not to pursue practicable alternatives that would have avoided, or greatly lessened, the damage that would be caused by its current proposal.

Click here to read the Executive Summary of the Forest Society's post-hearing memorandum.

Click here to read the full text of the Forest Society's post-hearing memorandum.

The Forest Society has not opposed the concept of importing more power from Quebec into New England. However, it has vigorously opposed Northern Pass as proposed--a largely overhead transmission line with adverse impacts on conserved lands and New Hampshire’s natural resources and scenic landscapes.

The Forest Society and other intervenors submitted post-hearing memos on Friday, Jan. 12. The SEC has scheduled 12-days of deliberative sessions starting Jan. 30, and has indicated it would render an oral decision by the end of February, with a formal written decision to come by the end of March.

Once a written decision is issued, parties including the applicant, have 30 days to file a motion for reconsideration to the SEC. If a motion for reconsideration is denied, the decision can be appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. How long it might take for a Supreme Court decision is unclear, but typically can be 6-12 months.

The Forest Society is a private, non-profit land trust and forestry organization established in 1901. It currently holds more than 700 conservation easements statewide permanently protecting more than 120,000 acres of New Hampshire’s landscapes. The Forest Society also owns 185 forest reservations constituting 55,000 acres in more than 100 New Hampshire communities.