New Transmission Line Planned from Londonderry to Bay State

Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) presented the Town Council with plans to construct a new transmission line between Londonderry and Tewksbury, Mass., to address identified weaknesses and growing demands on the electric system.

“We’re almost 100 percent in terms of success and reliability. We want to maintain that and we understand the infrastructure is aging and needs reinforcement,” David Plante, PSNH lead project manager for transmission building, told the Town Council at its Monday, Nov. 17 meeting.

Of the 18 miles of line to be constructed in New Hampshire, PSNH will construct 10 miles of line through Londonderry and Hudson.

National Grid is partnering with PSNH to complete part of the project, but will not be doing any work in Londonderry.

“This new infrastructure doesn’t necessarily mean trees won’t come down and cause power outages during winter storm events, is that correct?” Councilor John Farrell asked.

“Right, this is the superhighway of the utility system and we’re increasing the reliability of that system,” Plante confirmed. “That doesn’t do anything for the tree that comes down on your lines.”

No local permitting will be required to complete the project, but PSNH Project Manager Suzanne Findlen said community outreach is necessary.

“Right now, we’re very much in the preliminary planning stages,” she said, noting public hearings will be scheduled 45 days before and after their application for the project is submitted to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC).

Findlen said they are hoping to submit the application by spring, noting it will take about a year for the SEC to review.

Assuming all goes well, PSNH expects to see a mid-2016 approval, then begin construction late in 2016 or early in 2017. The new transmission line is expected to come into service sometime in 2018.

Farrell asked what the construction would look like.

“Will the utility poles be bigger than the ones there now?” he asked.

Plante said transmission line structures are consistent with those that have previously been installed in Town, and no new lines will be co-located on existing poles.

The transmission line is to start near the Scobie Pond Substation, taking a southwesterly path down the middle of town to Wiley Hill Road, then entering Hudson cutting through West Road and Route 102.

Vice Chairman Jim Butler asked for more details about the route so that abutters may be notified and offered a chance to participate in the planning process and public hearings leading up to construction.

Plante said construction in late 2016 would start with tree work, followed by “earth work type construction” in the spring, such as digging holes for the utility poles. Construction would then finish in mid-December of 2017, with the project taking about a year to complete.

Butler asked if it would be possible to gate off the right-of-way while under construction so that access is limited to one locked entry point. He said there have been issues in the past with off-road vehicles using the areas near the power lines.

“Perhaps that would be a great point to bring up in the public input process of our siting,” Plante said, noting PSNH would work closely with the Police Department if such issues were to arise.

“Time to time those issues come up, but we really haven’t see a lot of it lately,” Police Chief William Hart said. “We will work together if we see those issues come up.”

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