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National Grid hearing to continue before Hampden Selectmen

Date: 2/21/2011

Feb. 21, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN — A public hearing to address National Grid's upgrades to its electrical transmission system is scheduled to be continued at the Feb. 22 Board of Selectmen's meeting. The meeting is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m.

National Grid plans to replace its wood poles with taller steel ones and convert approximately five miles of existing 69 kilovolt (kV) lines, which span across Monson Road, Ames Road, Glendale Road and others to Allen Street, to 115 kV lines, connecting the substation in Palmer with a new substation in Hampden.

The new poles will stand 80 feet high, as opposed to the poles currently standing at 65 feet.

The new Allen Street substation will replace the current substation, also on Allen Street. National Grid has already purchased a 96-acre plot at 230 Allen Street and plans to set the substation back from the road approximately 1,800 feet.

The work is scheduled to begin in 2012 and be completed by 2014.

Residents with homes that abut the land on which the towers are located are worried about devaluation of their properties as a result of the upgrades, but National Grid Project Manager Dena Champy told Reminder Publications there was "no evidence" that the changes would have an adverse effect on property values.

David Graves, a spokesperson for National Grid, said that in addition to the fact there is no data to support the argument that company's plans would lower property values, the work is being done on an existing right of way, which suggests that there will be no devaluation.

"If this were a new right of way, I can see that there could be some worry about that," Graves said. "But this is an existing right of way that has been in existence for I don't know how long."

Champy added that "National Grid already paid for the easement on the land. We don't have to pay again for the additional right to do these upgrades."

Graves explained that either the current owners or the prior owners of the abutting properties signed an agreement when they were compensated for the original easement. That agreement states that no further compensation will be given.

Champy also told Reminder Publications that abutters had been contacted by National Grid's real estate department.

As of Jan. 31, according to Board of Selectmen meeting minutes from that day, residents at abutting properties reported that no such contact had been made.

"With every other transmission line project, whether it be installing or removing lines, the customers are notified," Graves said.

Graves added that the company sent out two mailings in addition to posting notifications to abutters. He also said National Grid hosted two open houses regarding the upgrades.

A request by Reminder Publications to speak with members of the Board of Selectmen received no response as of press time.

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