Hassan appears to take harder line on Northern Pass, saying it offers “all costs and few, if any, savings” for N.H.
Governor Hassan does an editorial board focusing on her budget proposal as well as other issues she faces at the beginning of her term as governor. (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
Gov. Maggie Hassan appeared to harden her stance on the Northern Pass project yesterday, writing in a newspaper op-ed that the controversial project “has made every possible misstep thus far” and carries “all costs and few, if any, savings” for the people of New Hampshire.
“Exploring new energy sources like large-scale hydro power does not mean just accepting what Northern Pass has offered. As it stands, for the people of New Hampshire, the project is all costs and few, if any, savings,” Hassan wrote in a column published on the Boston Globe’s website. “All people in New England deserve better, and the people of New Hampshire will continue to demand better.”
The op-ed, titled “Pursuing energy alternatives does not require accepting Northern Pass,” was more critical than previous Hassan statements on the $1.4 billion plan to carry 1,200 megawatts of hydropower from Quebec to the New England power grid through New Hampshire on 187 miles of transmission lines.
On June 27, for example, Hassan said “many questions remain” about the project and called on officials to “more fully explore options for burying more of the lines. I strongly encourage Northern Pass officials to continue to listen to the concerns of affected communities and the people of New Hampshire.”
Spokesman Marc Goldberg said the Globe column doesn’t represent a shift in Hassan’s position.
“I believe this is consistent with her previous statements on the project,” he wrote in an email.
Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray said yesterday the project “will provide tremendous environmental and economic benefits to New Hampshire and New England,” and the revised route unveiled in late June is “respectful of private property rights” while using “natural buffers” to lessen the project’s visual impact.
“At that time, Gov. Hassan noted that the state and federal governments will thoroughly evaluate our plan, and she pledged to ensure that the review would be rigorous. That review process is in its early stages, and it would be premature for anyone to prejudge its outcome,” Murray said in a statement. “We are confident that the process will provide the governor with the assurance she’s looking for: that the Northern Pass project will be a net benefit for New Hampshire and will not detract from its natural beauty.”
Hassan’s op-ed came in response to the Globe’s editorial last Sunday endorsing Northern Pass.
“No amount of bad public relations changes the fact that New England needs new energy sources soon, and Northern Pass’s offer of relatively green, relatively cheap Canadian hydropower is one of the best available options. It would be a mistake not to pursue it,” the newspaper wrote.
In Hassan’s response, she wrote, “It is disappointing that the Globe perpetuated the myth that large-scale hydroelectric power and Northern Pass are one and the same. Rather, Northern Pass is one proposed project that would import large-scale hydro to southern New England – and as the Globe points out, the project has made every possible misstep thus far.”
Northern Pass is in the process of seeking federal approvals for the project, with four public “scoping meetings” scheduled next week, starting with a hearing Monday night in Concord. The project has not yet applied for state approval, which would require a review by New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee.
(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)