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My Turn: State, region need the power Northern Pass would provide

In the past year, the Northern Pass team has reached out to the people of this state in many ways. We’ve talked one-on-one with residents at our open house series, visited with property owners at their homes, and spoken and emailed with hundreds of people who have questions about Northern Pass. We’ve also made key documents available for review on the project website. The Northern Pass team wants information to be available to the public so that we may engage in a valuable and fact-based discussion about the project.

Despite this outreach, we’ve found that some opponents are relying on hyperbole and inaccuracies to make their case.

The most pervasive inaccuracy of late is that New Hampshire doesn’t need the power Northern Pass would bring. We’ve seen this argument made in letters to the Monitor within days of seeing articles about New England’s growing energy problems.

The reality is New Hampshire businesses have been challenged this winter because of sky-rocketing energy prices – some have actually reduced operations and laid off workers – and the regional grid operator, ISO New England, has warned that the region may be short on power supplies in the near future. Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, all six New England governors signed an agreement recently to work to bring more energy to the region through new transmission lines and gas pipelines. These developments are evidence that the energy challenges facing New Hampshire are real. We cannot address these problems if we pretend they do not exist.

The people of New Hampshire must have a frank discussion about our energy challenges, including adding more power to the energy grid with projects like Northern Pass. Northern Pass will bring enough clean, renewable energy to power 1 million homes. You would need to build 2,000 wind turbines or replace Vermont Yankee two times over to generate the same amount of power. Northern Pass could play an important role in addressing energy reliability and cost, while also reducing CO2 emission by up to 5 million tons a year.

New Hampshire is faced with many important questions as it considers its energy future. Chief among them: Can we reduce our reliance on natural gas and other fossil fuels, while also ensuring a stable, diverse and affordable supply of energy? As the largest clean energy project under consideration in New England, and the one furthest along in a rigorous federal permitting process, we believe Northern Pass must be part of this discussion. We understand and respect there are views on both sides of this issue, but in order for the discussion to be a healthy and constructive, it needs to be based on facts.

(Lauren Collins is a spokeswoman for the Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission project.)

Legacy Comments10

This piece reads like a pharmaceutical ad ... (cue cloyingly upbeat voice) "Northern Pass could play an important role"... Yes, a pharmaceutical ad with the exception that Ms. Collins is omitting the long list of harmful side affects.

Why does no. pass need so many official spokespersons? Are these the jobs they said no. pass would generate? Why does the author suggest reducing our reliance on domestically produced natural gas in favor of importing foreign power? Why has NU pushed for it's New England customers to switch to "cheap and abundant" natural gas for the last few years when they knew there was insufficient pipeline capacity into the region and price spikes would likely result? Let's see, how can we create a demand for foreign power that ISO -New England regulators have said is unnecessary for reliability? Doesn't it make a lot more sense to increase the pipeline capacity into New England since we are the only region not benefitting from the "cheap and abundant" natural gas produced right here in the USA? All the region's Governors think so. Gas pipelines don't go on massive towers 150' in the air and would benefit industry and heat homes as well as generate electric power - all while generating jobs right here instead of Canada. Let them keep their power if they won't agree to bury the lines through NH. I'll bet the gas pipelines will go underground.

Quite simply, Northern Pass is a merchant funded, not necessary to keep the lights on, profit motivated project. Whatever questionable benefits there are to the Northern Pass Project, let’s get it straight, its number one goal is to make money for the executives and shareholders of Northeast Utilities. As Northeast Utilities’ CEO, Thomas May, stated during the shareholder’s quarterly telephone call on February 6th 2014, “To us this is lovely weather,..... we love the cold.... On the way in, I heard again that it's going to be single-digits tonight, so if you're sticking around, bundle up. We love the cold. " The executives of Northeast Utilities care nothing about the people of New Hampshire; it’s solely about producing a profit. Northern Pass executives refuse to acknowledge that burial of transmission lines utilizing HVDC “light technology” is the way to go today. They want to use yesterday’s technology so they can make a couple of extra bucks for their shareholders at the expense of New Hampshire’s residents.

"It is a fair rule of thumb that corporations tend to advertise the very qualities they do not have in order to allay negative public perceptions. When corporations say "we care," it is almost always in response to the widespread perception that they do not have feelings or morals." (Jerry Mander) Sound familiar? Northern Pass has withheld documents, consistently refused to speak with people, called itself clean when its power comes from dams the U.S. would not have permitted, called itself renewable when the power is not renewable according to New Hampshire standards. It has claimed tax revenue will accrue to towns from NP while suing towns for abatement of their existing ROW tax bills. Northern Pass has claimed anything they wanted to claim, hoping that if they repeated it enough times people would believe it. Now a note of panic has crept in. The project was made public four years ago, the projected completion date has been pushed several years ahead. Their plan to run two new 90'+ lines through White Mountain National Forest will meet fierce resistance, and by the time all the law-suits are done, one of the other projects in line, probably an underground one, will have beat them to the market.

OK. Northern Pass says it wants frank discussion. If that is so, why won't it answer this question: How much will Hydro Quebec charge our NH businesses for its power during peak usage periods? If Northern Pass were to ever honestly answer that question, then it would have to stop implying that Northern Pass is a solution to the problem it proposes to solve. Moreover, Premier Marois has made it very clear that she intends to solve a portion of Quebec's budget deficit problem by gouging the Yankees in New England with huge power charges. For the same reason, Marois has said she will not accept the recommendations of her own Energy Commission to shut down further big dam construction along the Romaine River. Her view is that Americans are going to let Hydro Quebec establish a monopoly supply position. I say that is not in our best interests; and it certainly is not in the interests of our national security. Better to continue to develop power resources here in New England. The projects will be secure; the employees will be local; and the lines of transmission will be shorter.

Northern Pass's disingenuous behavior continues; it has plagued the project and the people of NH from the beginning in 2010. Every single claimed benefit is a half-truth or less. Landowners have been treated with contempt, their concerns dismissed. You'll get used to it, said Gary Long early on. In today's HB 569 hearing, NP lobbyist Pfundstein argued that NP has mitigated the impacts of towers on landowners and has a study of property sales/values on the existing ROW that would "surprise you." Senator Odell asked Atty. Pfundstein if it wasn't apples and oranges to compare the existing ROW with the proposed NP project. Mr. Pfundstein ducked the question. The project has been unwilling or unable to turn over a new leaf and gain trust or credibility. The most pervasive contempt that Northern Pass has shown NH is its refusal to consider burial, dismissing it as too expensive, impractical with zero evidence to back up the assertions. If New England really needs the power, then Northern Pass needs to get on the stick and bury the line. It can't yell "fire!" and then say that the fire hose is too expensive or won't work.

Lauren Collins since you have made the point insisting everyone get their facts correct when discussing the possibility of the proposed Northern Pass project would you please finally tell everyone what dollar amount in savings the average household electrical rate payer in NH would see in one year’s time if the project is allowed to be sited. If as in the past you will not publicly announce this average savings that you continue to tout in your “Low Cost Energy “ ads then instead tell everyone what the rate per KW H would be for NH electrical ratepayers if this proposed project is allowed to be sited. This question has been asked by hundreds of people for years without an answer. The question has been asked while talking with the Northern Pass team one-on-one at your open houses. The question has been asked by property owners while you were visiting them. The question has been asked through emailing the Northern Pass. The answer to this question cannot be found in any of your key documents available for review on your website to date. NH electrical rate payers know what a “real” savings is and what it is not. They also know that when they have asked a simple question about savings but can never get an answer, then simply they are saving nothing.

The NIMBY Visual Purists are bordering on Un-American. The national security needs of this power far outweighs the visual purists desire for unobstructed views so they can see the windmills - what Hypocrites

It would take someone who idolizes Reagan to be so blind as to think that importing Canadian power supports United States national security !!

Then I guess you think Obama's National Security advisor is a dummy

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