Wednesday August 21, 2013

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire’s congressional delegation has asked the federal Department of Energy to do a more rigorous review of a contentious proposal to build a 187-mile electric transmission line through northern New Hampshire.

In a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, the senators and representatives cite a change in the route of the proposed Northern Pass project and concerns they’ve heard from constituents. The delegation released a statement about the letter on Tuesday. The delegation -- Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Democratic representatives Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter -- also want to know if a federal environmental review can continue before the project’s backers demonstrate they can legally pursue construction on the new route.

The $1.4 billion project would transmit 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydroelectric power from Hydro-Quebec into New England -- enough to serve 1.2 million homes.

Project developers in June announced a new route that it said takes into account concerns raised over an earlier plan. The plan has stirred 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.

In a separate letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the delegation asked for clarification about the terms of the Connecticut Lakes Headwater Conservation Easement Deed, which conserves land in Pittsburg, Clarksville, and Stewartstown. In its amended route, Northern Pass proposes crossing into a portion of the easement area, which the delegation thinks is prohibited under the terms of the deed.