My Turn: State, region need the power Northern Pass would provide
In the past year, the Northern Pass team has reached out to the people of this state in many ways. We’ve talked one-on-one with residents at our open house series, visited with property owners at their homes, and spoken and emailed with hundreds of people who have questions about Northern Pass. We’ve also made key documents available for review on the project website. The Northern Pass team wants information to be available to the public so that we may engage in a valuable and fact-based discussion about the project.
Despite this outreach, we’ve found that some opponents are relying on hyperbole and inaccuracies to make their case.
The most pervasive inaccuracy of late is that New Hampshire doesn’t need the power Northern Pass would bring. We’ve seen this argument made in letters to the Monitor within days of seeing articles about New England’s growing energy problems.
The reality is New Hampshire businesses have been challenged this winter because of sky-rocketing energy prices – some have actually reduced operations and laid off workers – and the regional grid operator, ISO New England, has warned that the region may be short on power supplies in the near future. Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, all six New England governors signed an agreement recently to work to bring more energy to the region through new transmission lines and gas pipelines. These developments are evidence that the energy challenges facing New Hampshire are real. We cannot address these problems if we pretend they do not exist.
The people of New Hampshire must have a frank discussion about our energy challenges, including adding more power to the energy grid with projects like Northern Pass. Northern Pass will bring enough clean, renewable energy to power 1 million homes. You would need to build 2,000 wind turbines or replace Vermont Yankee two times over to generate the same amount of power. Northern Pass could play an important role in addressing energy reliability and cost, while also reducing CO2 emission by up to 5 million tons a year.
New Hampshire is faced with many important questions as it considers its energy future. Chief among them: Can we reduce our reliance on natural gas and other fossil fuels, while also ensuring a stable, diverse and affordable supply of energy? As the largest clean energy project under consideration in New England, and the one furthest along in a rigorous federal permitting process, we believe Northern Pass must be part of this discussion. We understand and respect there are views on both sides of this issue, but in order for the discussion to be a healthy and constructive, it needs to be based on facts.
(Lauren Collins is a spokeswoman for the Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission project.)