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The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, in a June 24 order nisi, granted the request of National Grid for a license to build and maintain electric lines and associated shield wires over and across public waters and lands owned by the state of New Hampshire in the Town of Windham.
The order is being issued on a nisi basis to ensure that all interested parties receive notice of the PUC’s order and have the opportunity to comment or request a hearing by July 13, the PUC said.
As noted in the order, National Grid last July filed a petition for a license to build and maintain a new 345-kV and a relocated 115-kV electric transmission lines and associated shield wires over and across Beaver Brook, which is a non-navigable public waterway, and for licenses to build and maintain the 345-kV line – to be known as the 3124 Line – over lands owned by the state adjacent to Route 111 in Windham.
The 3124 Line will run from the Scobie Pond substation in Londonderry, owned by Eversource Energy, to the Massachusetts border, the PUC added. The 3124 Line will then continue from the Massachusetts border to National Grid’s Tewksbury #22A substation, the PUC said, noting that according to National Grid, the project is part of the Merrimack Valley Reliability Project (MVRP) that is jointly owned by National Grid and Eversource.
The New Hampshire portion of the MVRP is about 17.9 miles long, of 24.4 total miles, and is within existing National Grid and Eversource rights of way. The New Hampshire portion of the route relevant to the docket, the PUC added, currently consists of three National Grid-owned transmission lines: the N-214 (230-kV), the Y-151 (115-kV), and the O-215 (230-kV). The lines run through the New Hampshire towns of Londonderry, Hudson, Windham and Pelham, the PUC said.
National Grid’s petition noted that the projects in the docket will involve relocating the existing Y-151 Line to the western edge of the existing ROW and building the new 3124 Line in its place.
The petition further noted that the MVRP became necessary to address reliability concerns discovered by ISO New England, the PUC said, adding that due to load growth and aging infrastructure, ISO-NE decided that additional capacity would be needed to meet the region’s demand. Therefore, in order to meet the reasonable requirements of service to the public, National Grid and Eversource jointly proposed the MVRP, which would resolve the reliability issues identified by ISO-NE.
The PUC also stated that National Grid’s petition requested a license for two water crossings over Beaver Brook. The relocated Y-151 Line will cross Beaver Brook, and the new 3124 Line will cross Beaver Brook as well as state-owned land that is outside of the highway ROW for, and adjacent to, Route 111 (Haverhill Road). The proposed crossings over and above Beaver Brook are located between Haverhill Road in Windham (Route 111) and Bockes Road in Hudson.
The PUC also said that the petition indicated that the existing Y-151 Line will be moved from the center of the ROW to 28.5 feet from the western edge, and will cross over Beaver Brook in its new location. The distance between structures 82 and 83, the structures on either side of Beaver Brook, is about 703 feet.
At the location of this crossing, the PUC added, the main stem of Beaver Brook is about 55 feet. According to the petition, the Y-151 Line will have a minimum clearance of 25 feet above the water level. National Grid submitted information based on a survey showing that the Y-151 Line will be relocated within the existing ROW but outside the state-owned parcel of land that is adjacent to Route 111.
The PUC also said that according to the petition, the new 3124 Line crossing will be located at the center of the 350-foot ROW from which the existing Y-151 Line is being relocated, and will cross Beaver Brook where the Y-151 Line currently crosses. The distance between structures 144 and 145, the structures on either side of Beaver Brook, is about 919 feet. The width of Beaver Brook is about 87 feet at this location. According to the petition, the PUC added, the 3124 Line will have a minimum clearance of 30 feet above the water level. The new”¨3124 Line will also cross a parcel of New Hampshire Department of Transportation state-owned land identified as Lot 14-A-300A adjacent to Route 111, the PUC said.
National Grid said that installation of the cables across Beaver Brook will not require any dredging or use of heavy equipment in the brook, and that the flow of the brook will not be diverted or altered for the project.
The PUC further noted that Beaver Brook is not designated as a navigable waterway under the state Programmatic General Permit. National Grid also indicated that it has applied to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services for a “shoreland permit” for the Beaver Brook crossings. In addition, the petition asserted that National Grid and Eversource have consulted with the NHDOT and will obtain all necessary permits for work on and over Route 111.
The PUC added that staff, in a memorandum filed on June 16, recommended approval of the company’s petition, and recommended that National Grid be required to forward the PUC’s order, after 30 days of publication notice, to the state Site Evaluation Committee for consideration in a SEC proceeding.
The PUC said that based on the information presented, it finds that the proposed crossings are necessary for National Grid to meet the reasonable requirements of service to the public. Noting that National Grid has affirmed that it will build and maintain the lines consistent with the National Electrical Safety Code, the PUC said that it finds that the addition of the 3124 Line and relocation of the Y-151 Line will not substantially affect public rights at those locations.
Among other things, the PUC said that the approval is limited to the construction of electrical lines under consideration in the docket, and it is conditioned on the requirement that National Grid build, install, operate and maintain the project, consistent with the NESC provisions.