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July 9, 2013

Undersea cable project would ease need for lines

Representatives from Tetra Tech, a technical engineering firm, and New Hampshire Transmission, the developer exploring the installation of a 55-mile long underwater cable, are poised to meet with lobstermen and fixed-gear fishermen tonight to discuss the plans and impact of a Sonar survey around Cape Ann.

But while lobstermen and their backers say the timing is terrible, and would disrupt their efforts in the middle of peak lobster season, any change in a time frame could impact future cable installation plans, according to Matt Valle, president of New Hampshire Transmission at NextEra Energy.

”If we don’t do it in the near term, we would have to put a proposal out where we haven’t investigated all the risks,” said Valle, whose parent NextEra is the energy giant that also operates the Seabrook (N.H.) nuclear power plant. “In terms of data collection and a time frame, it’s the ideal time.”

Valle said an underwater cable, which is under “serious consideration,” would help meet the needs of the company as well as customers. The cable, which would offshore from southern New Hampshire and around Cape Ann to just off Revere, is being designed to boost the New England power grid while also avoiding the need to build more land-based, overhead power lines.

The cable, if installed, would connect two stations in different sections of New England, said Nick Welz, a senior marine scientist with Tetra Tech. Because of the population and usage between the two stations, Welz said power does tend to “bottleneck” in the area.

New Hampshire Transmission has tapped Tetra Tech to use the 110-foot vessel Sea Lion V to drag Sonar equipment from Revere, through Cape Ann waters and up to the Seabrook area to examine the possibility of installing the underwater cable. While the cable would loop offshore, NextEra’s Seabrook nuclear plant sits just 17 miles across the water from Cape Ann, and can be seen from parts of Rockport and Lanesville.

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