The Department of Energy has released a long-awaited draft of its Environmental Impact Statement examining the Northern Pass project as well as alternatives including complete or partial burial.
The agency found that full burial of the power lines would have the smallest impact visually but would be about twice as expensive. However, the report said, burying the transmission lines would provide about 1,500 jobs, almost twice as many as putting them overhead.
Eversource’s current proposal with above-ground lines would have the greatest visual impact, the report said, but would do the most to lower electricity costs in New Hampshire and the region.
Vermont Law School professor Patrick Parenteau said this is a key document when it comes to the DOE’s decision on whether to allow the project to proceed.
“It’s a pretty good indication of the agency’s thinking on the project,” he said.
All alternatives examined in the DOE environmental report involved burying - to some degree - the transmission lines.
The report also notes tourism and property values would be hurt by the overhead lines proposed for Northern Pass, something company officials have denied.
Burying the lines would protect property values but cause “substantial, short-term” impacts on traffic, the report said.
The public has 90 days to comment and the DOE will next hold public hearings in Whitefield, N.H. and Plymouth, N.H. in October.
This story was originally published by New Hampshire Public Radio.