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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)

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 bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

Legacy Comments5

Thank you, Governor Hassan. This is the most comprehensive statement any elected official has articulated about New Hampshire's energy future and policy. It asks everyone to fight off tunnel vision and remember that both are about more than Northern Pass, which is just one at this point unacceptable option on the table. This what leadership does - it rejects the stampede mentality and calls for principled decision-making.

Why do people ignore the fact that No. Pass-over NH gives the state not one kilowatt of power. NH is a conduit for power to go from Hydro-Quebec to Ct. and points south.

I don't get why we need Northern Pass and I thank Governor Hassan for speaking out against this project. We are paying greater and greater property taxes, federal taxes and Obamacare will cost the average family over $2500 more per year, yet the average electric bill in NH runs a family around $110. If Northern Pass saved us 10% on electric bills, it would be just $132 on average for the average family. It makes no sense. Most of this energy will be handed on to other areas. Ruining the landscape, paying much of the cost and not realizing any real financial benefit makes no sense. Northern Pass needs to be stopped.

The DOE public hearing in Concord is on Monday, Sept. 23, from 6 - 9 pm at the Grappone Conference Center on 70 Constitution Avenue - just off exit 15 of Rt 93 at the Jct. of Rt 393 in Concord. You can sign up to speak the evening of the meeting if you wish but just showing up is what really matters.

Kudos to Governor Hassan for standing up for NH. Her willingness to put the best interests of the people and state of NH before these CT and Canadian predatory developers is commendable and should be an example to all. These guys thought they could come to NH, throw a lot of money around, and we'd all be so impressed that we would just fall in line and sign over our rights and deeds. Instead, they found out they couldn't subjugate us or our leaders. Martin Murray's descriptions of the damaging proposal bear little resemblance to 200 miles of over a thousand massive towers up to 15 stories tall. The more he says, "Trust the process" - The more we know we can't trust the process. Should we trust the process that allows no. pass to hire the former head of the DOE to be their attorney that negotiates with the DOE? Show up at the DOE scoping hearing on Monday night to show them NH won't be taken for granted. Thanks again Governor Hassan.

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