Energy Resources

Navigating Large-Scale Projects

Large-scale energy projects are being proposed with greater frequency in New England. Conservation commissions in New Hampshire are entirely made up of volunteers and vary greatly in terms of the resources they can access to navigate the complexities and challenges that come with those projects. Still, conservation commissions are guided by RSA 36-A (see: What Must a Conservation Commission Do?) and in the course of their regular activities will end up developing a wealth of information about the natural resources in their towns. This knowledge is central to the role conservation commissions can take when faced with a large-scale project proposal.

Northern Pass 

The Northern Pass is a project by Eversource and Hydro-Quebec that was introduced in 2010 and it proposes to construct a 192-mile, 1,090 megawatt high-voltage transmission line from Canada through 31 New Hampshire municipalities. It proposes a new direct current (DC) transmission line from the Canadian border to Franklin where a converter terminal will be built to convert the electricity from DC to alternating current (AC). From there, a new AC transmission line would carry the energy to an existing substation in Deerfield and into New England’s electric grid. The project needs federal and state approvals. 

Read NHACC's Resource Sheet: "Conservation Commissions and the Northern Pass." Additional information about eminent domain can be found in the Northeast Energy Direct Project section below.

Download BCM Environmental & Land Law's presentation and handout on the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) from the NHACC Annual Meeting.

Northeast Energy Direct Project

The Northeast Energy Direct Project is a proposal by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Houston based Kinder Morgan (KM), to expand their existing pipeline system in New England, New York and Pennsylvania. The proposed new route is for 30 or 36-inch natural gas pipeline and would pass through 17 New Hampshire towns, including Winchester, Richmond, Troy, Fitzwilliam, Rindge, New Ipswich, Greenville, Mason, Milford, Brookline, Amherst, Merrimack, Litchfield, Londonderry, Hudson, Windham and Pelham. KM is currently in the pre-filing or scoping phase of the NED Project and plans to submit a final proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) later this year. 

What can Conservation Commissions do about the NED Project?

Click to download NHACC's Resource Sheet for the NED Project.

This Frequently Asked Questions document summarizes NHACC's best understanding of the processes regulating natural gas pipelines. This document is not legal advice and it is not the policy of the NHACC. Conservation commissions should consult their own legal counsel for legal advice and to confirm all details in this document. Answers within the document are provided by Prof. Marcus Hurn, UNH School of Law.

The Conservation Law Foundation has also created an Eminent Domain Fact Sheet that provides some useful information.

In addition to some of the examples in our Resource Sheet above, it might be helpful to take a look at the preliminary environmental assessment report that Amherst Conservation Commission wrote for their town. The Town of Hollis also created a Pipeline Impact Study Team, which included members from the Conservation Commission, Planning Board, and many others, and the group prepared a Taskforce Toolkit to be a resource for other towns.

In 2015, NHACC held a regional meeting in Milford to help bring together commissions and learn about the permitting process and how to potentially mitigate natural resource impacts. You can download the following presentations from our guest speakers below:

We encourage commissioners to continue to reach across town lines and connect with other conservation commissions. Each commission and town may have their own unique situation, but can certainly benefit from sharing knowledge and ideas with others. A few commissions are working with their towns to provide up-to-date and helpful information on their websites, which include Amherst, Merrimack, and Milford, among others.

Also in 2015, a coalition of 33 conservation commissions submitted a letter citing natural resource concerns about the NED pipeline project to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and NH Governor Maggie Hassan.


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