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N.H. House Panel Takes Up Bills Inspired by Northern Pass

Concord — A House subcommittee is beginning work on three bills inspired by the proposed construction of a privately funded, 187-mile transmission line originating in northern New Hampshire.

The $1.4 billion Northern Pass project entails building a line that would transmit 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydroelectric power from Hydro-Quebec into New England — enough to serve 1.2 million homes.

It has faced intense criticism in the state’s North Country where opponents argue towers carrying the electricity south would damage the environment, lower property values and hurt tourism. Supporters counter that the power would reduce carbon emissions.

The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee held some bills related to the project to be voted on next year. A subcommittee begins work Tuesday on three that focus on transmission lines.

One bill would require state regulators to find that there is a public need for the lines, and if the lines are not in the public good to require that they be buried.

A second bill would require that all new elective transmission lines be buried.

The third would require all electric transmission lines to be placed within the state’s transportation rights of way when possible.

Northern Pass officials announced a new route for the project in June that is east of the original plan and calls for burying about 8 miles of lines along state and town roads in Stewartstown and Clarksville and under the Connecticut River.

Gov. Maggie Hassan and others who have been critical of the project said after the announcement that Northern Pass still needs to do more, including burying more lines.

The U.S. Department of Energy must consider the project’s environmental impact and hold public hearings. The project also needs the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee’s approval, which it will seek next year.

Northern Pass Transmission LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Northeast Utilities based in Hartford, Conn. Northern Pass will recover its costs from Hydro Renewable Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Hydro-Quebec, under a transmission service agreement approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.