By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Daily Sun
LANCASTER — Northern Pass and Wagner Forest Management have signed a 93-year extension of the lease allowing a portion of the proposed transmission line route on timberland managed by Wagner.
A five-page lease, signed on June 2 by Leon J. Oliver, chairman and president of Northern Pass Transmission LLC of Manchester and on June 12 by Tom Colgan, president of Wagner Forest Management of Lyme, was filed on Tuesday afternoon, June 13, at the Coos County Deeds office.
The document is a formal 93-year-long extension of a lease signed nearly five years ago on Nov. 15, 2012, making a total of 98 years.
The lease applies to portions of the nearly 125,000 acres that Wagner manages for Bayroot in three Unincorporated Places — Dixville, Dix’s Grant, and Millsfield, plus the town of Dummer, on which Northern Pass Transmission plans to build a controversial transmission line to bring electricity from Quebec to Deerfield.
The original lease provided that Northern Pass Transmission, then represented by Renewable Properties Inc., could unilaterally end the lease agreement after almost five years.
Neither Bayroot nor its underlying ownership had that right, according to the terms of the original 2012 lease.
Although managed by Wagner, Bayroot LLC is held by Yale University in New Haven, Conn., as part of a multi-million-dollar endowment portfolio.
“No other entity or other properties had that same right to end the agreement,” Eversource spokesman Martin Murray explained, noting that there had been some misunderstanding about this matter among some anti-Northern Pass Transmission activists. Some students and graduates of the prestigious Yale School of Forestry tried to put pressure on the university.
The lease provides greater access to Bayroot property during the construction period of the up-to-1,200-megawatt direct current transmission line, including all associated towers and facilities. Less property would be leased once the line is built and hydropower is being supplied to the ISO-New England grid.
The lease also terminates a lease that would allow for further evaluation of the viability of a wind energy facility.
“One of the big pluses of the extended long-term Northern Pass Transmission-Bayroot lease is that these woodlands will remain as timberlands, helping support one of the important traditional industries in Coos and the state,” Murray pointed out. ”Northern Pass has made the required payment.”
Wood industry experts, including Colgan, strongly believe that having a secondary revenue stream is a big plus in today’s fast-changing world, especially given the volatility of wood markets.