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Large energy projects in NH move forward

The two largest energy projects on the drawing board in New Hampshire moved one step forward on Monday, as state regulators accepted the application for the Northern Pass, while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accepted the application for the Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline.

In each case, regulators had to determine that the applications were complete, despite protests to the contrary.

Members of the Site Evaluation Committee, a statewide planning board that rules on major energy projects, voted that the Northern Pass application is complete, setting in motion a licensing process for the hydroelectric transmission project that has been five years in the making.

A packed house of Northern Pass opponents left the Monday morning meeting in Concord disappointed by the unanimous vote of the SEC subcommittee assigned to the Northern Pass case.

“Since we asked them to declare it incomplete, clearly we find their action disappointing, but frankly not altogether unexpected,” said Jack Savage, a spokesman for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “The question that remains unanswered is when and how disputed property rights will enter into the discussion at the SEC.”

The forest society filed a lawsuit in Coos County Superior Court, arguing that it owns property along the highways that Northern Pass hopes to use to bury the transmission line in the northernmost section of the state to bring hydroelectricity from Quebec into New England.

“We appreciate the hard work that the SEC and other state agencies have put into reviewing the contents of this lengthy application, and we are eager to begin the next phase of the state permitting process,” said Northern Pass spokesperson Lauren Collins.

The process continues with a series of public information sessions and other hearings early next year.

The Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct (NED) project, a natural gas transmission pipeline through much of Southern New Hampshire, will soon submit its application to the SEC as well, but got good news from federal officials on Monday.

The Federal Regulatory Energy Commission issued a statement, saying commissioners have accepted the NED application and set Jan. 6 as a deadline for “electronic filings of comments, protests and interventions.”

“At least it’s not right in the middle of the holiday season, as many had feared,” said Katy Eisemen, president of the Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast. “Typically they have only allowed 21 days, which would have meant a deadline the Monday after Christmas.”

In related news, upcoming nuclear plant closure could roil New England markets.

dsolomon@unionleader.com

This article was written by Dave Solomon from The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.