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Editorial: City should play a role in Northern Pass plan

The more that the Northern Pass hydro-electric transmission project is in the news, the more polarizing it becomes. Positions for and against harden with each passing week, making the proposal to bring electricity from Quebec down through New Hampshire to the New England power grid vexing indeed and compromise seem remote.

Nonetheless, a move by the Concord City Council this week should cheer local residents on both sides of this issue. Finally, something everyone should agree upon.

The council voted to ask the U.S. Department of Energy to allow the city to become a “consulting party” in the project, allowing Concord to weigh in on its impact as it crosses through the city. In retrospect, this should have happened months ago.

Northern Pass officials held a meeting this month in Concord to answer questions from residents and give them a sense of how the new poles and wires would affect the local landscape. Trouble is, they left many unanswered questions.

The new power line would be strung on the existing right-of-way from East Concord all the way over to the D’Amante Drive area on the Heights. Already, the proposed route through town has left some city councilors uneasy. That’s why Concord’s proposed involvement makes good sense.

We’ve encouraged residents to keep an open mind about the project and, so far, the city council has not taken a position on it. The city won’t gain veto power over the project, of course, but that’s not to say the city government shouldn’t play an activist role in helping to shape the specific route of the power line and height of the poles and wires. It’s possible that proposing relatively modest changes could mean a dramatic difference to the project’s impact on individual homeowners. And intervenor status would assure that city officials have the most current and complete information possible.

The Department of Energy should quickly approve Concord’s request. A nudge from New Hampshire’s congressional delegation wouldn’t hurt.

Legacy Comments2

I haven't noticed that increased publicity has made the proposed no. pass project any more polarizing, it's just that as people become more educated and more aware of what is really going on here - they are outraged. The only support this proposal has ever had is from those few who stand to benefit at the rest of NH's expense. NHPR asked Gary Long in a recent interview why there was such a large and effective grass roots opposition to no. pass but no grass roots support. The Monitor posted 5 letters from proponents but didn't allow comments to educate the public on how and why these 5 people support the proposal. On the other hand are the thousands of people from across the political and financial spectrum who have spent years trying to save our state and our property values from this damaging proposal. The towers wouldn't end at D'Amante drive unless they are going to bury it. Why does the Monitor keep saying that? Is it because they don't have FAA permission to run those huge towers around the airport? If they do, why don't they say so. The city council shouldn't be asking to become a "consulting party", they should stand up for the best interests of the people of Concord and object to these monstrosities and demand that this line be placed underground by the highway where it belongs. We are not at the mercy of psnh of CT or the Canadian power company. If they want to do business in NH, they can't just trash our state with 200 miles of huge towers and tell us - tough luck. If they don't want to bury it by the highway, someone else will. Those in leadership positions need to show some backbone and stand up for NH instead of foreign and out of state predatory developers with no regard for us or our beautiful state.

Hello, Concord Monitor! It's good to see the editor(s) are beginning to wake up and smell the coffee after nearly three years of Northern Pass darkening NH's doorstep. Yes, the Open Houses are a joke. They are trade shows to pitch the project, not a forum in which residents will get honest answers to their questions. (The standard NP answer is, we don't know, we're still in preliminary stages. If the plans are still that peliminary, why on earth is the DOE even entertaining this project and the permtting process beginning?) But don't kid yourselves about "intervenor" status with the DOE, which sounds mighty impressive, but isn't. All it really means is that you are placed on an email list to get earlier notice than others of what Northern Pass has planned to do all along - maximize profit in NH. At some point, editors, Concord will have to stand up and fight, not continue to dally and sit on the fence. Other towns have figured that out. Only if towns band together will Northern Pass ever listen to any of us. Concord residents - if your city council and newspaper are gingerly hanging back hoping to make friends and influence people at Northern Pass, take the bull by the horns yourselves. Go to the scoping meeting at the Grappone Center on September 23. Tell the DOE what you think about Northern Pass - your elected officials will hear you better when your voice is amplified in the hall, especially if you mention them. Start telling Governor Hassan what you think, your state senators and reps; tell the federal delegation what you think. Don't go quietly into the night because your city council and local newspaper don't seem to "get it" quite yet.

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