Frequently asked questions

Why a new interconnection?

The goal of this project is to increase our capacity to export power to New-England’s grid. Hydro-Québec’s exports to external markets are profitable and the income from these sales benefits Québec society as a whole.

What line routes were studied?

Environmental studies have shown that the least-impact solution consists in running the planned line along the existing 450-kV Des Cantons–New England line. However, since this line goes into Vermont, the planned line will have to move away from it in the south section in order to reach the crossing point at the Québec/New Hampshire border.

The line route study therefore consists of two parts: a first section where the line is parallel to the existing 450-kV line, and a second section in which a number of line route variants are being studied. These variants lead to the border crossing point which Hydro-Québec has agreed on with its U.S. partner, Northern Pass Transmission (NPT).

Why didn’t you consider an underground line?

The decision to build an overhead line was based on environmental, technical and economic criteria.

The underground option was considered for the southern section of the route, but was rejected for the following reasons:

  • The cost of building and repairing underground lines is significantly higher–up to four times higher, in fact– than overhead lines.
  • An overhead line requires the construction of an overhead-underground junction substation at each end of the route in the southern portion of the project.
  • The service life of an underground cable is 40 years, whereas overhead lines last 80 years.
Overhead line - Service life: 80 years. Higher capacity. Faster service restoration after outages. Underground line - Service life: 40 years. 4 to 10 times more expensive. Maintenance and repair work more complicated. Imposing equipment required at each end.

Why was Des Cantons substation chosen as the starting point for the line?

Des Cantons substation was chosen as a starting point for the new interconnection because of its geographic location, its robustness and the space available within its perimeter for the installation of new conversion equipment.

  • It is the 735-kV transmission substation closest to the Québec/New Hampshire border, ensuring that the line to be built will be as short as possible.
  • Des Cantons substation is solidly connected to the transmission system by three 735-kV lines, ensuring a reliable supply for the interconnection.

What are the location criteria for the planned line?

When developing the various routes studied, the following criteria are taken into account:

  • Run the line along the existing 450-kV line wherever possible.
  • Avoid siting near isolated homes and avoid village hubs.
  • As much as possible, avoid sensitive elements such as farmland, sugar bush operations, exceptional forest ecosystems, habitats of special-status plant and animal species, wetlands and recreational or tourist sites.
  • Avoid the highlands of the Mont Hereford massif.
  • Avoid open spaces and sites offering panoramic views.
  • Optimize line design with a view to harmonious integration into the environment.

Will there be expropriations?

Hydro-Québec favors agreements with landowners, which are reached in over 95% of cases.

Farmers affected by the project will be compensated according to the provisions of the Hydro-Québec–UPA Agreement on the Siting of Power Transmission Lines on Farms and in Woodlands.

Compensation shall be paid only to landowners from whom Hydro-Québec must obtain an easement for the crossing of a power line.

How will the project impact the landscape?

The chosen environmental assessment method used by Hydro-Québec for power line projects includes a detailed landscape study. The goal of this study is to characterize the various types of landscapes in the study area in order to determine which are the most sensitive to a line crossing.

Various siting criteria can then be used to integrate the line into the landscape as much as possible:

  • Look for backgrounds that allow the line to be visually absorbed.
  • Take advantage of any existing visual screens.
  • Make the most of the topography, etc.

Carefully choosing tower placement and tower type based on the environment crossed can also improve a line’s visual integration into a given area.

Hydro-Québec implements various mitigation measures to optimize the integration of its new facilities. Measures such as the selection of the most suitable types of towers and careful tower siting are applied at the design stage. In this project, juxtaposition of towers will be preferred when the two lines are parallel, especially in open areas.

What will be the impact on the Hereford Community Forest?

Forêt Hereford, which covers over 5,400 ha, could not be bypassed and is crossed by the southern segment of the line route. To reduce impacts and allow for the best possible integration, the sensitive components of this environment and the obligations and restrictions prescribed by the conservation servitude were taken into account when developing the line route. The project team also set up an information and discussion panel with the representatives of the Forêt Hereford organization and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The panel has the following objectives:

  • Discuss the technical, environmental and social aspects of the project to ensure ongoing communication about shared concerns and promote the search for consensus-based solutions.
  • Ensure that the construction and operation of the new line are carried out in compliance with applicable standards and with due respect for community concerns and the obligations of the Forêt Hereford organization and the Nature Conservancy of Canada

Will the project be subject to BAPE hearings?

Yes. The transmission line is subject to the environmental impact assessment and review procedure stipulated in Chapter 1 of the Environment Quality Act, given that its voltage is more than 315 kV and its length is over 2 km. This means that the MDDELCC’s Direction des évaluations environnementales analyzed the environmental impact statement filed by Hydro-Québec and consulted the government departments concerned. The impact statement was deemed admissible by the Minister and is now available to the public.

In fall 2016, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) held a public hearing concerning the Québec–New Hampshire interconnection project. During the first part of the hearing, the BAPE’s commissioners and the public asked Hydro-Québec questions on the project and, during the second part, members of the public gave their opinion.

The BAPE will submit its report to the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, which will release it by March 25, 2017.

All information related to the hearing is available on the BAPE’s Web site.

How are the concerns expressed during public consultation activities integrated?

The concerns expressed during consultations held by Hydro-Québec during the project planning stage were integrated into the studies and analyses and allowed Hydro-Québec to propose the most suitable solution. They were presented in the environmental impact statement filed by Hydro-Québec with the MDDELCC.

Hydro-Québec is currently holding specific meetings with the landowners directly affected by the project to address certain details and minimize the impacts.

How can citizens submit their questions or concerns about the project?

Questions or concerns can be submitted at any time by calling the Info-project Line at 1 877 653-1139 or by writing to quebecnewhampshire@hydro.qc.ca.

Will this project increase Quebecers’ electricity bills?

The investment required for this project will have no impact on electricity rates in Québec.

The project’s cost will be covered by Hydro-Québec Production, a non-regulated division of the company. Hydro-Québec Production wishes to acquire an additional line to an export market.

Why a direct-current line?

Direct current is unidirectional, which means the electrons always move in the same direction. A good example is a battery, where a chemical reaction triggers a movement of electrons in one direction inside the conductor: from the negative to the positive terminal of the battery. Alternating current is when electrons move back and forth.

The technology used to transmit direct current is not the most common. However, it is used to connect systems that aren’t synchronized, which is the case with the Québec transmission system and the New England one. It can also be advantageous for transmitting electricity over long distances. In this project, the terminal point of the direct-current line is Franklin substation in the south of New Hampshire, about 245 km from the Québec/U.S. border.

Understanding electricity: direct current

Will Hydro-Québec keep affected landowners informed of the project’s progress?

For the current project, Hydro-Québec held meetings in spring 2015 with the different stakeholder groups affected to present the line route variants under study and gather the host community’s comments and concerns.

We also held two open house events in early June 2015 to learn about residents’ concerns and answer their questions.

At the end of summer 2015, Hydro-Québec held information meetings about the solution selected, including an open house at the beginning of September. At the meetings, Hydro-Québec was able to respond to the concerns expressed in June by the landowners affected by the project and the residents interested in the project.

Two more open house events were held in September 2016 in a continued effort to answer the questions of landowners affected by the project.

Hydro-Québec will also make sure to keep landowners informed throughout the project via written communication, phone calls or special meetings, as required.

What vegetation control methods are used near transmission lines?

The aim of right-of-way maintenance is to reduce the risk of power outages and allow fast and safe access to transmission facilities. It complies with government standards, including the Pesticides Management Code.

The work consists of mechanical cutting in some areas and the application of herbicides in others. Hydro-Québec emphasizes the right means of intervention at the right place and at the right time.

Vegetation control

What compensation will be granted to landowners affected by the line?

Hydro-Québec favors agreements with landowners, which are reached in over 95% of cases.

Farmers affected by the project will be compensated according to the parameters of the Hydro-Québec–UPA Agreement on the Siting of Power Transmission Lines on Farms and in Woodlands.

Compensation shall be paid only to landowners from whom Hydro-Québec must obtain an easement for the crossing of a power line.

Could adding this new line cause stray voltage problems?

In the vast majority of cases, stray voltage problems are a results of a cutomer’s electrical installation. It is extremely rare that a high-voltage alternating or direct current line causes stray voltage. Should the new line be to blame for such a problem, Hydro-Québec would take the necessary measures to resolve it.

For more information on this phenomenon, please refer to the practical guide dealing with stray voltage on farms, Les tensions parasites à la ferme [pdf 1,21 Mo](in French only).

How does a DC line affect human and animal health?

There are no known harmful effects of exposure to low-intensity static magnetic fields such as the magnetic field of the Earth (about 50 microteslas [µT]) or those measured near DC power lines.

The threshold recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for exposure to static magnetic fields is 400,000 µT (continuous exposure for the general population). On the basis of the project configuration, the magnetic field emissions of the DC line will not exceed 55 µT, when taking into account the earth’s magnetic field.

The ionization of the air near the conductors of high-voltage DC lines produces ions that are blown away from the right-of-way in the presence of wind. However, as mentioned previously, since the concentration of ions is low, the exposure is not problematic for human or animal health.

Conclusive studies on animal health

Conclusive studies have been conducted on how animal health is affected by exposure to electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) from high-voltage DC lines. A 15-year review of the studies indicates that no biological disorder can be attributed to livestock exposure to EMFs from high-voltage lines.

The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board analyzed data on about 24,000 dairy cows, obtained from the database of the Dairy Herd Improvement Association. The data had been collected three years before and three years after the commissioning of a 400-kV DC high-voltage line. The analysis did not identify any effects on the production or quality of milk or on the rate of cow abortion.

Oregon State University conducted a study on beef cattle exposed to a 500-kV DC high-voltage line. The study sample comprised 200 cows, 200 calves and 12 bulls, and was followed for 30 consecutive months. The study did not identify any effects on livestock health, fertility, production or behavior.

More information

Electric and Magnetic Fields At a Glance

World Health Organization