FRANKLIN – Starting today, a series of public meetings are being held in North Country communities on the proposed route for a transmission line that will carry electricity from hydro plants in Quebec to a direct current convertor plant here.
The $1.1 billion Northern Pass Project will see a 140-mile-long transmission line built on structures ranging from 90 to 135 feet tall from Quebec to Franklin. The utility will need to acquire a new right of way through Coos County – 45 miles from the Canadian border to the Lost Nation substation in Northumberland.
The path of the company’s preferred right of way will bring it close to conservation lands and historic sites, including the Poore Family Homestead District in Colebrook.
Rick Johnsen, director of the foundation that maintains the historic homestead, said he’s not at all happy that the large transmission lines will be visible from the property.
“It’s going to have a significant impact on Coos and Grafton counties,” said Johnsen, who noted that any property tax benefits for towns along the route will be more than offset by a decline in property values due to the presence of the above-ground power lines.
“All the jobs are gone up here. Scenery is all we have left. This project will destroy that scenic beauty,” Johnsen said.
Presentations by power company officials are scheduled in Stewartstown and Clarksville today and next Monday in Franconia and Sugar Hill, with meetings in other communities along the proposed route scheduled later in the month.
Johnsen is proposing that the power lines be buried and that superconductor technology be used to reduce power loss in the underground lines.
“It will cost them more, but in the long run it will be the best for everyone involved,” said Johnsen, a resident of Columbia who said that he is working with local landowners and conservation groups to press for underground transmission lines.
He said underground transmission lines are a big part of a proposed transmission line for Canadian power to New York City.
“They’re going underwater in Lake Champlain and the Hudson River and through Long Island Sound. If they can do it there, the same thing can be done here,” he said.
The Northern Pass Project is a partnership between Northern Pass Transmission LLC, a New Hampshire company established by Northeast Utilities, Public Service Company of New Hampshire’s parent company, and NSTAR and HQ Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of Hydro Quebec.
Once the hydro power is converted to alternating current in Franklin, it will travel through a 40-mile transmission line to PSNH’s Deerfield substation for distribution across northern New England.
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