A public hearing was held this week on the Eversource plan to upgrade transmission lines from two existing substations in Madbury and Portsmouth. Currently, the section that runs through Newington, which utilizes existing rights of way, will affect parts of the residential and historic district with above ground transmission lines.
Susan Geiger, the attorney representing the town of Newington told a state Site Evaluation Committee that Newington is opposed to the current Eversource plan unless it buries the lines.
“Although Newington has historically supported large-scale utility projects, it cannot support this project as currently configured because an overhead transmission line will unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region, unreasonably adversely affect the aesthetics and historic sites and will not serve the public interest,” according to Geiger. She is an energy and telecommunications attorney with the law firm Orr & Reno of Concord and a former state public utilities commissioner.
According to an Eversource spokesman, the company is in negotiations with property owners in the area and expects to file an amendment that calls for burying the lines through much of the town, so the comments at the hearing were made for the current proposal.
Eversource spokesman Martin Murray said the company has rights-of-way for above ground lines and not for underground construction. However, he said he’s confident that the lines would be buried through most of Newington.
Geiger said that Newington supports Eversource’s plan to bury the lines, “conceptually,” but will wait to see the finer details of the changes once they are worked out before the town can make a determination on whether it supports the project.
While Eversource may now own the rights to an above ground transmission line, it behooves them to develop a plan to bury the lines and protect the interests of Newington residents, especially their property values and scenic beauty of the Great Bay region.