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My Turn: Will Northern Pass hurt region’s electric reliability?

The residents of New Hampshire and New England are totally dependent on the New England electric grid. Lacking in the discussion regarding Northern Pass is an answer to this question: How is the risk of catastrophic failure of the grid affected by continuing to increase New England imports of distant and centralized large-scale hydroelectric power through several conduits crossing the Canadian border, and most particularly by the proposed Northern Pass project in New Hampshire?

The risk of catastrophic failure of the grid exists today, as evidenced in July when a drought-driven forest fire incapacitated four Canadian power lines crossing the border to the United States. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. is now investigating the failure of Hydro Quebec to give notice of this pending event, notice which is required to enable managers of the grid to minimize the risk of catastrophic failure.

That risk increases as the grid expands over longer distances to concentrated sources of supply. The future of the New Hampshire and New England economies and security of our environment would be well served by shifting to decentralized, renewable electric generation serving local residences, business and industry. Instead, New Hampshire may be forced to accept a major electric tentacle that will make it more difficult for New Hampshire and New England to decentralize with local renewables, will damage the state across many other fronts and may increase the risk to all of New England of catastrophic failure of the grid.

Our media, citizens, universities and most certainly the Department of Energy in the environmental impact statement for the pending presidential permit for Northern Pass must address this issue. They should specifically consider the following possibilities:

1. Events of nature that may be more likely to occur in eastern Canada than in New England, e.g. droughts, forest fires, ice storms and geomagnetic events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections;

2. Malevolent human actions such as cyber-attacks and physical terrorist attacks on Canadian soil beyond our government’s control, including the use of electromagnetic pulse;

3. Reliance on the vagaries of Quebec politics for electric power and other foreign nations for replacements for large transformers which are mostly no longer produced in the United States.

4. A perfect storm where two or more of the above are involved.

I am pleading for help with these matters in the presidential permit process and from the media and our state and federal politicians.

(Fred O. Brownson lives in Wentworth.)

Legacy Comments4

What nobody covers is the problem windmills create. The Grid is not set up for handling variable surges in power created by the wildly fickle windmills. Readers may want to educate themselves on this problem.

Why are there still daily TV and newspaper ads touting psnh of CT's disgraced no. pass project that has no public or political support that isn't corporate sponsored? Like someone pointed out earlier - are these guys just stupid - or is the "fix" in? Couldn't they use all that money for something worthwhile instead of just shredding it?

The author is certainly correct to question the reliability of Canadian power and the wisdom of relying on yet another foreign source of energy. From the ice storms that caused the collapse of the massive transmission towers a few years ago - resulting in a weeks long power outage in the middle of the winter for those dependent on these same providers - to the forest fires in the middle of the summer that have recently exposed another vulnerability of overhead transmission lines, it's clear that there are definite and proven risks to a reliance on such a remote and foreign source of power that is completely beyond our control. Beyond all the potential and likely threats to reliability from the long list of vulnerabilities that threaten the supply and delivery of this foreign power before it even reaches our border is the shameless and disgraceful no. pass project that aims to force NH property and small business owners to subsidize psnh of CT's destructive proposal with the resulting decreased values from proximity to these massive towers.

having seen every argument from the leftists dissolved and now that they have being reduced to their ineffective Visual Purists stance - the left now introduces their newest cog to throw in the sprocket of progress

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