Northern Pass’ Highest Hurdle

Northern Pass must obtain a myriad of permits from both Federal and State agencies in order to build a 187 mile long High Voltage Transmission line from the Canadian Border to Deerfield, NH.  Each of these permits has a set of criteria upon which the application is evaluated in order to determine if the proposal meets the requirements for the permit. The most stringent application requirements belong to the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) Special Use Permit (SUP) which is required because the proposed route crosses the WMNF.

At first glance it would seem that the goal of preserving the beauty and solitude of the WMNF and the construction of Northern Pass’s proposed high voltage transmission lines are at such crossed purposes that no such application would ever even be considered.  Not so.  The US Forest Service regularly entertains applications for Special Use Permits covering a variety of activities and construction projects.  In fact, PSNH is allowed to maintain a transmission line through the WMNF today under a SUP last renewed in 2006 for a thirty-year term. This transmission line is modest in comparison to the line proposed for Northern Pass – the existing lines are supported by wooden poles standing 40-50 feet high with taller trees on either side.

The proposed Northern Pass project will not only add steel lattice towers averaging over 90 feet tall to the existing corridor, it will remove the wooden poles and replace them with steel poles averaging over 90 feet tall.  The new lines will extend above the surrounding treeline in many areas. In all, there would be 184 new steel structures as tall as 115′ in the WMNF.  The AMC conservatively models the visual degradation they would cause to the Easton-Lincoln-Woodstock portion of the WMNF in this Flyover Video.

In a letter (see link below) to Tom Wagner, the Forest Supervisor for the WMNF, REAL shows that Northern Pass does not meet the requirements for a permit and formally requests that the US Forest Service summarily reject the Northern Pass application for a SUP to cross the WMNF.  Second, if the SUP is not rejected, REAL formally requests that the US Forest Service consider the alternative of burying both the new transmission lines as well as the existing transmission lines along I-93 and the Franconia Notch parkway to avoid damage to the WMNF.  Finally, REAL requests the US Forest Service not to consider any special exemptions (site-specific amendments) for Northern Pass to allow the transmission lines to be built even though the WMNF requirements are not met.

(Download and read REAL’s Letter to Tom Wagner

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