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My Turn: Let’s prevent the New Jersey-fication of New Hampshire

The current set of power lines run over Tripoli Road near exit 31 on  I-93 in Woodstock on Thursday, May 5, 2011.  Woodstock is one of the towns that may be affected by the Northern Pass project, which would bring 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectricity from the Canadian border to 
a converter station in Franklin, and eventually would be distributed throughout New England.

The current set of power lines run over Tripoli Road near exit 31 on I-93 in Woodstock on Thursday, May 5, 2011. Woodstock is one of the towns that may be affected by the Northern Pass project, which would bring 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectricity from the Canadian border to a converter station in Franklin, and eventually would be distributed throughout New England.

With no comprehensive state energy plan to protect New Hampshire interests, our state is on the verge of becoming a dumping ground for private, for-profit energy developments that would not be allowed in our neighboring states.

Vermont, Maine and Connecticut will be burying high-voltage, direct-current merchant transmission lines not needed for reliability (not requested by our regional grid planners). Developers of such private lines, wind turbines and other merchant energy projects are targeting New Hampshire because they perceive our state to be backwards, easy pickings, defenseless. A new gold rush is on. Northern Pass is a first example of this opportunism, but it is by no means the only private project that will target New Hampshire if we take no action.

Typically sponsored by multibillion-dollar foreign or out-of-state companies, these projects impose huge costs on New Hampshire families, our communities, our natural environment and our sense of place. These private mega-developments provide no net benefits to New Hampshire. They crowd out the state’s home-grown conservation and energy industries and destroy New Hampshire jobs.

Other states protect themselves with energy policies that carefully weigh and balance competing interests. New Hampshire does not do so, yet. But state legislators will soon have the opportunity to stand up for New Hampshire interests in this critical area.

Responsible legislative process is about crafting sound, general policies. The key energy bills pending in Concord this session do just that. They do not target Northern Pass or any other particular project. They set clear, fair standards equally applicable to all similarly-situated energy developments. Claims by developers that this legislation somehow unfairly targets “just my particular project” are baseless. Claims that this legislation would discourage business are equally unfounded; instead it would encourage responsible developers to design projects in ways that make sense for New Hampshire. And claims that this legislation could have unintended consequences pale in comparison to the almost certain consequences of our current lack of comprehensive planning.

Don’t let New Hampshire become the dumping ground for private unneeded energy projects that our neighboring states do not allow. Ask your legislator to support the bills that would create a state energy plan this session, starting with a one-year moratorium on elective projects not needed to keep the lights on (HB 586). Time is running out to prevent the “New Jersey-fication” of New Hampshire. We must act now.

(Susan Schibanoff of Easton is a member of Responsible Energy Action LLC.)

The author makes a clear and compelling case for the need for a comprehensive energy policy. Please take a minute and shoot a quick email to your reps. and those on the Science, Technology, and Energy Committee who have been holding hearings on these matters. Ask them to support the bills and support NH. National security would be enhanced by supporting domestic production of energy as opposed to becoming reliant on another foreign source. ISO - NE has called this power "unnecessary" so it's hardly a matter of "National Security" - so if this power is going to cut through the heart of NH, it can certainly go underground where it would be most appropriate as well as provide much needed revenue to our state.

You forgot to argue that the NP will harm tourism, that nobody will want to come here any more if it gets built. The other remarks pretty much cover the rest.

2 ideas: Much of the proposed Northern Pass power line is close to I-93. Why not bury the lines most of the way along the sides of 93, instead of killing millions of trees and downgrading more of the natural beauty of NH? Is the cost of replacing huge towers in remote areas, after a big ice storm takes them down, being factored into the decision making? Along 93 the trees are already cut down and there is easy access for digging the trenches. Transition the lines to overhead at the exit ramps, and for feeding power to the high speed Boston to/from Montreal magneplane bus down the 93 median, as Christopher Booth suggested the other day http://www.concordmonitor.com/opinion/4605465-95/boston-concord-speed-system Here's the magplane bus, designed by a company right next door in MA http://magplane.com/tech_system.asp

Northern Pass is a national Security issue- America needs abundant cheap reliable power to simply survive

OK, then. You can be the first to move to south Jersey. I suggest Cherry Hill - see how you like it.

OH wow - ZING - ya got me there - ouch

For once I agree with "sail." It seems to me, Mr. "Educator," you are caught up in idiotic hyperbole. Because if you and Ms. Schibanoff had a clue what the larger world outside of your rural little dreamworld actually looks like you would be hard-pressed to think a set of power lines would turn your precious little rural paradise into a New Jersey-like industrial wasteland.

Having the experience of driving through New Jersey and in my youth, living there for a year and a half, I understand Ms. Schibanoff's point. From Southern Connecticut through New York and New Jersey, we have a landscape of industrialization that folks from places like Newark or Nanuet or NYC or Stamford now see as "normal" American life. I kind of like this little rural dreamworld and if it were not for people from places like New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts had not moved here and ruined that it would even be better.

Cherry Hill? Nice if you like constant traffic and houses two feet apart. We agree on something, imagine that.

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