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July 11, 2013

Undersea cable project raising concerns for fishermen

SEABROOK — Local fishermen are watching ongoing conversations between Gloucester-based fishermen and an engineering firm set to do an underwater Sonar survey from Revere to Seabrook, as that plan could leave an impact on their lobster season, and therefore their finances.

Representatives from Tetra Tech, a technical engineering firm and New Hampshire Transmission, a developer exploring the possibility of running a 55-mile long underwater cable along that same route, was set to meet with Gloucester’s lobstermen and fixed-gear fishermen earlier this week. The purpose of that meeting was to listen to the concerns of Cape Ann’s commercial fishermen who feel the timing of the survey is terrible as it will disrupt their efforts in the middle of lobster season, for their fishing equipment would have to be cleared from the water while the survey is taking place.

But according to Matt Valle, president of New Hampshire Transmission at NextEra Energy, any change in time frame could impact future cable installation plans.

“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 owns and operates Seabrook 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 electricity needs of the company as well as customers. The cable, which would run offshore from southern New Hampshire, around Cape Ann to just off Revere, is being designed to boost the New England power grid. The underwater cable would avoid 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 tend to “bottleneck” in the area.

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