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Northern Pass hydropower transmission line hits roadblock

CONCORD, N.H. 12/7/11 (PennWell) -- A New Hampshire committee will meet Dec. 8 to make a recommendation that might slow down the Northern Pass hydropower transmission project.

The $1.1 billion, 200-mile high-voltage Northern Pass transmission line project would bring 1,200 MW of hydroelectric power from Canada to New England, according to a permit application filed in Oct. 2010 by Hartford-based Northeast Utilities and Boston-based NSTAR.

A bill that might stymie the project was first postponed in June 2011 but was passed by the New Hampshire State House after a revised route for the transmission line sparked renewed concerns.

The bill -- designed to change state procedures regarding the procurement of land via eminent domain -- has been called flawed by both sides of the Senate.

Terms of the bill say public utilities could not ask the state for permission to take private land to build private, large-scale transmission lines unless they could show the facility was needed for "system reliability" of the electric grid. Senators say that term isn't defined.

A judiciary committee will meet Dec. 8 to further the discussion.

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