Editorial: City should play a role in Northern Pass plan
The more that the Northern Pass hydro-electric transmission project is in the news, the more polarizing it becomes. Positions for and against harden with each passing week, making the proposal to bring electricity from Quebec down through New Hampshire to the New England power grid vexing indeed and compromise seem remote.
Nonetheless, a move by the Concord City Council this week should cheer local residents on both sides of this issue. Finally, something everyone should agree upon.
The council voted to ask the U.S. Department of Energy to allow the city to become a “consulting party” in the project, allowing Concord to weigh in on its impact as it crosses through the city. In retrospect, this should have happened months ago.
Northern Pass officials held a meeting this month in Concord to answer questions from residents and give them a sense of how the new poles and wires would affect the local landscape. Trouble is, they left many unanswered questions.
The new power line would be strung on the existing right-of-way from East Concord all the way over to the D’Amante Drive area on the Heights. Already, the proposed route through town has left some city councilors uneasy. That’s why Concord’s proposed involvement makes good sense.
We’ve encouraged residents to keep an open mind about the project and, so far, the city council has not taken a position on it. The city won’t gain veto power over the project, of course, but that’s not to say the city government shouldn’t play an activist role in helping to shape the specific route of the power line and height of the poles and wires. It’s possible that proposing relatively modest changes could mean a dramatic difference to the project’s impact on individual homeowners. And intervenor status would assure that city officials have the most current and complete information possible.
The Department of Energy should quickly approve Concord’s request. A nudge from New Hampshire’s congressional delegation wouldn’t hurt.