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Pembroke selectmen speak against Northern Pass

Only about 6 miles of the 180-mile proposed Northern Pass project would pass through Pembroke.

But the town’s selectmen and a handful of residents only had one message for Northern Pass representatives who presented the project at this week’s board meeting.

“The consensus of the citizens that were there was, ‘No, thank you,’ ” Chairwoman Tina Courtemanche said.

Northern Pass spokesman Michael Skelton said the project engineers just want New England residents – including the 45 Pembroke landowners whose property would be in the direct path of the proposed hydropower line – to understand the facts.

“First and foremost, what we want them to take away is factual information,” Skelton said. “We often find that residents . . . have been badly misinformed about the project and are concerned about impacts that don’t actually exist.”

Tower height is among the major concerns for Pembroke residents, said Courtemanche, and she said information from this week’s meeting did not serve to calm that.

About 6.2 miles of Northern Pass would cut through Pembroke, and the towers along that line would range in height between 52 feet at the shortest and 135 feet at the tallest. The project details, including the height of each proposed tower, are broken down in a plan on the “In My Town” section of the Northern Pass website.

On average, the Pembroke towers would be 130 feet tall. The line would continue along an existing right of way through the town, where power lines currently average 75 feet in height.

Skelton said the treeline in Pembroke varies from 55 to 65 feet along that right of way.

So the towers could extend as high as 70 feet above the town’s trees, which Courtemanche said drew fire from landowners concerned about their property values.

“If you have a 130-foot tower in your backyard, you know that is definitely, they feel, going to lower their property value,” Courtemanche said.

While the towers vary in height across their path through Pembroke, Skelton said the project engineers are trying to design a level path for the hydropower line, one that accounts for dips and obstacles in the land.

“It’s really all driven by the topography of the right of way,” Skelton said.

The dozen or so residents gathered to protest the project at the selectmen’s meeting care about the local topography, Courtemanche said. They just don’t want to see Northern Pass become part of it.

“Some of them are landowners that are in the Pass, and some of them just don’t want to see the landscaping,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful New England town, to just destroy the view.”

Skelton, who was not at the selectmen’s meeting Monday, said an open house for Pembroke and Allenstown residents last week yielded more support for the project. In particular, he said some at the open house were curious about the tax benefits Northern Pass has promised for the towns it could dissect.

Northern Pass would mean an additional $530,000 in local property taxes for Pembroke, he said.

“It’s a very compelling story when you look at the energy benefits, the environmental benefits and the ecological benefits,” Skelton said. “We believe it’s a win-win, not only for the town of Pembroke, but the state of New Hampshire overall.”

Monday night’s presentation was the latest plug for Northern Pass in Pembroke, but Courtemanche said the town has been cold to the Northern Pass proposal since its beginning.

In 2011, a warrant article approved at town meeting registered the town’s “objection, opposition and commitment to stop the construction of any new portion of the high voltage transmission line that deviates from the alignment of the present existing right of ways.”

The article continued to say the town could not welcome the project because “such a huge scar constructed and erected through and above the town’s treasured residential and scenic private properties will cause inestimable damage to the orderly economic development of the town, and the health and well-being of its residents.”

Courtemanche has been following the project since its beginning stages and has attended other meetings in Pembroke and elsewhere for Northern Pass.

She’s heard the facts. And nothing has swayed her toward the project, she said with a dry laugh.

“Well, I think I heard what I thought I was going to hear,” Courtemanche said of this week’s meeting. “I don’t believe I heard anything new.”

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Nobody except Northern Pass pretends that power lines don't steal a property's value, especially if they tower 70' over the trees as the ones in Pembroke would. Testimony has been presented to the state and to the DOE from NH realtors concerning sales that fell through when potential buyers heard about Northern Pass and concerning discounts that sellers had to give to unload property stigmatized by virtue of its proximity to the proposed line. Pembroke would take an especially bad hit from this proposed project: 89 new steel structures up to 135' tall, some illuminated at night and with spherical "balloon" markers for daytime visibility. In fact, Northern Pass would have to go out of its way to make these towers stand out like worse sore thumbs than they already are. And all this damage for an unneeded, non-reliability project that won't give straight answers to how much and how quickly the line would depreciate, to how many real jobs there would be and to a host of other critical questions - just PR spin. This would be one of the biggest swindles in NH history.

Pembroke has been whining about the Bow power plant for years, and here is something that may help it go away, eventually. Maybe the power is just passing through now, but look to the future. It really doesn't matter because these people think electricity just shows up, with no generation needed. Let's count the things they are against: Wind generation and the towers, water power and the dams, coal and the coal mines and emissions, nuclear, biomass and the timber harvesting, natural gas and the fracking. Oh, never mind; let's all just sit in the dark!

Yes, let's take "sail's" advice on national security and make our electrical grid dependent on a vulnerable source of foreign power. That makes about as much sense as Skelton's win-win. How are these guys still in business?

“It’s a very compelling story when you look at the energy benefits, the environmental benefits and the ecological benefits,” Skelton said. “We believe it’s a win-win, not only for the town of Pembroke, but the state of New Hampshire overall.” - Sure, energy that ISO regulators have deemed "unneeded" and environmental and ecological concerns that have every related organization aligned against no, pass. Reduced property values, horrific industrializing of quaint New England towns and complete public opposition - that really sounds like a win-win to me, too. psnh of CT: Tone-deaf to the roar of NH, - some things never change.

NIMBYs - cry - when they already have it in their back yard - this is a national security issue - BUILD IT NOW

Please go to the NP website - “In My Town” section - and tell us the pole number of the pole in your back yard. Will your property lose value for NP's profits. Or is this more of a "not in my backyard so I don't care about anyone else".

please show me proof that more of the same will change your appraised value

Proof! At the next gathering you at just ask all the people that would buy a piece of property (no discounted price) next to a 135 foot high tower to raise their hand. Those armless people are your proof....... If NP had just buried the lines or even kept them below the tree line they could have pulled it of already. Greed got in the way.

the new towers will be about 2 car lengths above the existing towers - get real NIMBYS

The article states, "On average, the Pembroke towers would be 130 feet tall. The line would continue along an existing right of way through the town, where power lines currently average 75 feet in height. Skelton said the treeline in Pembroke varies from 55 to 65 feet along that right of way. So the towers could extend as high as 70 feet above the town’s trees, which Courtemanche said drew fire from landowners concerned about their property values. “If you have a 130-foot tower in your backyard, you know that is definitely, they feel, going to lower their property value,” Courtemanche said." The current wooden poles that average 75 feet were just installed a few years ago and replaced the previous wooden poles that were about half that size. Now they want to dwarf these wooden poles with massive 13 story steel towers - each on it's own concrete foundation the size of a small house - every 800 feet all the way to Canada. There are no words to express people's outrage at the audacity of such a greedy and thoughtless proposal. Every other current proposal in all our surrounding states are proposing completely underground routes for such large scale transmission and are meeting no resistance to the permitting process. Why would NH agree to be the only New England state to be trashed to provide CT with more power when such towers have been outlawed there?

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