Hi 29° | Lo 14°

My Turn: Welcome to the Northern Pass fight, Concord – and good luck

I was pleased to read that the Concord Conservation Committee and the Concord Planning Board voted respectively to oppose the Northern Pass and proposed burying the lines if the power project is allowed to proceed (“Board: Bury Northern Pass lines,” Monitor front page, April 8).

Having been part of the Anti-Northern Pass Committee in Sugar Hill for almost two years, I have learned a lot of distressing facts that may be helpful for you to know:

1. Don’t think zoning laws or any other protective measures established by your city will help you. If the Northern Pass gets the permits it needs, you will have no say in what Public Service of New Hampshire does to your city. Zoning laws will not matter; you will only be able to stand by and watch while your city is devastated.

2. Don’t think the governor will come to your aid. Gov. Maggie Hassan has failed to take a firm stand opposing Northern Pass as she has been requested to do. Why? Isn’t she supposed to support New Hampshire citizens?

3. Don’t think the legislators will come to your aid. Last year it took thousands of emails and phone calls, plus attending hearings, to get a more protective eminent domain bill passed. Can you imagine a legislator not wanting a bill to protect his or her constituents? This year, the House had before it five energy bills that were reasonable and responsible; all five were “retained”!

Also this year, the Senate considered SB 99, a bill to establish a one-year moratorium on large energy projects, such as wind turbines and large transmission towers, and to review the Site Evaluation Committee. After listening to public testimony at the hearing, with time running short, the senators asked people to turn in their written statements, implying they would read them prior to the vote. They ended the hearing and people left. After the people were gone, they brought back SB 99 and rejected it – not reading the people’s testimony! Then they stripped electrical transmission towers from the bill and passed it. The only beneficiary of that deceitful maneuver was PSNH and the Northern Pass project. (Later, at the Senate voting, they totally stripped the moratorium from the bill, leaving the review of the Site Committee.)

4. Don’t think the federal Department of Energy will come to your aid. It has already established its favoritism in this project.

It granted permission to PSNH to trespass on private lands to do part of the surveying necessary to support its request for a permit, before the application for a permit had been submitted. Town officials and landowners specifically stated PSNH workers were not allowed on private land, yet the Department of Energy supported PSNH’s request, against the will of the townspeople.

5. Don’t think the state Site Evaluation Committee will save you. The committee is composed of 16 members who will make the decision for tens of thousands of people regarding whether Northern Pass can proceed. Of those 16, four are from the Public Utilities Commission, including Michael Harrington and Robert Scott, appointees of former governor John Lynch who have ties to PSNH. Three are from the Department of Resources and Economic Development, and three are from the Department of Environmental Services, headed by Thomas Burack, who contradicted his own words at the hearing on SB 99. There are most likely 10 pro-Northern Pass votes – 10 out of 16. We lose.

6. Don’t count on the chambers of commerce protecting your businesses. Among the big supporters of the Manchester and Nashua chambers are PSNH and unions. They have issued statements supporting Northern Pass. They say it will bring jobs – but even if it does, it will not compare with the jobs lost in Northern New Hampshire due to the loss of tourism.

PSNH has its money and tentacles everywhere! You are in for quite a fight, Concord, but persevere.

New Hampshire is merely a conduit for a private, for-profit organization. We sacrifice our land, property values, beautiful scenery, tourism industry, jobs, second homeowners with the money they bring, possibly our health – and PSNH, its officers and stockholders make more money.

Isn’t it questionable why so many people are supporting something that is so bad for New Hampshire?

Good luck in your battle!

(Dorothy McPhaul lives in Sugar Hill.)

Legacy Comments10

It's obvious and plain as day to everyone that this line should be buried on state owned right of ways where it won't affect anyone's health or property value. It's just as obvious that many politicians are quite content to thumb their nose at the public and allow these foreign and out of state predatory developers to do pretty much as they please. Any virtues this line possesses will not be diminished by burial - instead, burial would be it's biggest virtue by conserving our unique and valuable landscapes instead of sacrificing them for some scratch marks on a corporate ledger. Of what use are Representatives who don't represent the will and best interests of their constituents? NH has the most representation per capita but many don't listen to the people, instead, they feather their own nest. Where can we find some more with integrity?

Ms. McPhail makes many valid points in her editorial. I think it is important to bear in mind that the vast majority of the opposition to Northern Pass would disappear if the greedy executives of Northeast Utilities and Hydro Quebec were willing to take a minuscule cut in their profit and bury the lines as is being done in other projects in Maine, New York, and Vermont. Moreover, remember that this electric is not intended for New Hampshire as we are a 50% net exporter of power, but rather it is intended for Southern New England and New York. Northern Pass cannot use the argument that it is too expensive to bury the lines as today’s technology has reduced those costs considerably. If the lines were buried in State owned rights of way for the 180 mile length, New Hampshire would then reap much needed revenue, possibly up to 100 million dollars a year. The recently concluded SB 361 Commission chaired by Senator Jeanie Forrester made the determination that it is feasible to create an energy corridor where high voltage transmission lines could be buried. Don’t be bamboozled by PSNH rhetoric. Their brazen attitude and flagrant disregard for the public good emanated from years of buying off organizations and politicians and believing that their mismanaged “sixth highest electric rates in the country” company is beyond reproach.

The polite term to describe the effects of Northern Pass that residents of Concord used with the Planning Board was "huge impact." That would seem to understate the concerns of some Concord residents who will lose the tree buffer between their homes and the proposed towers and be within such close range of the proposed 345 kV line that EMF radiation is a danger. They will find it devastating. But call it what you will, Concord stands to take a very big hit from Northern Pass as proposed. The AMC's visual impact study puts Concord high on the list for negative effects. Ms. McPhaul's overall point holds: the regulators are "captured" and see their role as finding a way to "yes." Towns are powerless to object in a meaningful way. Not all, but too many politicians and state officials stare at their shoes when given a chance to inject some protection for citizens into the process. What to do? Private "grassroots" strategies have proved effective. Landowners in Coos have held off the project for two years as a way to get Northern Pass to the bargaining table where they must consider citizen concerns. Concord residents could start by checking the record carefully and getting the detailed facts. Has the FAA really given approval for Northern Pass's proposed towers in Concord/Pembroke? They have approved the new higher structures (up to 90') that PSNH wants to put in its ROW there, but has the FAA OK'd the actual Northern Pass towers? If not, why not? Why has Renewable Properties not purchased all the options it has in Pembroke to widen the PSNH ROW by 45'? (And what are the legal implications there?) Ask PSNH to appear before the relevant city board and answer these questions on the record as a start.

I think you miss the point altogether GWTW. Yes, even in Concord, home values will be effected by this project. My husband and I are considering a move to Concord area. The first thing I do now while looking at properties, is to check google earth to see what transmission line ROW might be within a mile or two of the property. The PSNH ROW will pass through or close to thousands of properties across the state. There have been homes I wanted to look at, beautiful, with such good prices, I wonder why. More than one property has the PSNH ROW within walking distance and in one case, abutting the land. They didn't show you this in the real estate pictures. As soon as I see this, I discard the property from my list. The bigger picture is well beyond the Northern Pass project. It's corporate control of the state and federal government. The government was created by the people, for the people? Not anymore. The government is but a servant of corporations that want to keep the rich rich and you are not allowed to have a say in their activities anymore. They just make it look like you do. They have a regulatory process that allows you to speak, then they simply throw it all out and do what they please. You should feel violated by this. Instead, you are right where they want you to be, complacent.

Yes, yes..I must have missed the point. I thought we were talking about a power line, a line that will provide the grid some hydro electric power and reduce greenhouse gas by 1/3. Apparently, its not about that, its about corporations, rich people, the government and control. I'm still surprised by the "devastation" angle. It used to be when infrastructure was damaged the term "devastation" was used. Now building infrastructure is "devastation".

they also forget what the PUBLIC part of PUBLIC UTILITY means

"Zoning laws will not matter; you will only be able to stand by and watch while your city is devastated." I tried to read beyond this statement. I couldn't do it. I kept looking at it, rereading it. A transmission line, allowed in Concord, is devastating to the city. Really. How does one arrive at such a conclusion? A power line, from a hydro electric plant, going through Concord, is equal to devastation. Whats a new housing development equal? Total societal collapse? How about a new train station? Armageddon?

I am against Northern Pass, but I would bet that if a new train station came to town and electrical lines had to be run, progressives would be all for it.

I think that running the lines along RT 93 thru Concord could be seen as an improvement. That corridor has looked like crap since the '60's and nothing has been done to improve it in 50 years. In regards to the progressives/railroad comment, why not utilize the RR right of ways that exist for even abandoned lines. Bury the lines there where possible. There are even right of ways thru the White Mountains. ?????

Sounds too devastating. Thank God I-93 is already built. Imagine the devastation.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.