- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The company behind a project to run 187 miles of electrical transmission lines from Canada through New Hampshire has asked the federal government to publicly identify all the alternative routes currently under review.

Northern Pass Transmission sent a letter Thursday to the Department of Energy saying the company agrees with the state congressional delegation’s request that the routes be made public. The delegation made the request on Jan. 14.

“To help assure the public that the environmental review that DOE has underway will be as robust as it can be, Northern Pass believes it would be desirable for DOE to disclose the alternatives that it intends to evaluate and to ensure that the range of alternatives considered fairly reflects the comments submitted by New Hampshire citizens and other interested parties,” said the letter written by Jerry Fortier, project director.

It was addressed to Patricia Hoffman, the energy department’s assistant secretary in charge of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. A call to the office was not immediately returned Friday.

Michael Skelton, a spokesman for Northern Pass, said the company doesn’t believe publicizing the alternative routes that were proposed during the public comment period will slow down the permit process or further stir up opposition to the plan.

“We believe our proposed route is a sensible one that is respectful of the land and its neighbors,” said the letter from Fortier to the DOE.

The DOE is preparing an Environmental Impact Study on the proposed Northern Pass, a $1.4 billion project that would transmit 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectric power from Hydro-Quebec into New England.

Opponents worry the project will damage the environment while supporters point to job creation and to cleaner, renewable hydropower that can help stabilize the New England energy market.

The current route proposed by Northern Pass goes from Pittsburgh, in the far north at the Canadian border, to Deerfield in the southeast and includes 8 miles of buried lines. Project opponents want the whole route underground and the state House last week approved a measure directing the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to give preference in issuing permits to privately funded energy projects if they bury their transmission lines.