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Committee unbiased on Northern Pass

Last modified: 12/2/2011 12:00:00 AM
As a member of the Northern Pass Advisory Committee in Deerfield, I take exception to the Monitor's article, 'Town split on Northern Pass' (front page, Nov. 28).

To those with no inside knowledge of our committee's workings, the article gives the impression that committee member and Northern Pass employee Tom True stood fast against the unfairly biased populace of Deerfield as we sought to pull the wool over the eyes of our selectmen regarding Northern Pass. Nothing could be further from the truth. True's contributions to the volunteer committee were minimal at best and counterproductive and undermining at their worst.

Absent from the article is the story surrounding the committee's most important achievement: the ferreting out of Northern Pass's grossly over-inflated and erroneous tax impact for the town of Deerfield. The discrepancy was not a mere oversight on a spreadsheet but in fact was due to many errors and a faulty, subsidized 'economic study' that, once challenged, amounted to a 60 percent reduction of revenue for Deerfield. Had we not asked, the information surely would not have been volunteered, and the Deerfield taxpayers would have had a rude awakening down the line. To this day, Northern Pass is still quoting the higher figure on its website. Changing it would disrupt the overall $25 million overall 'tax benefit' to towns that Northern Pass officials frequently like to quote to the press.

True asserted in the article that our committee was biased and that he 'truly wanted to know all the facts.' We were not biased. Rather, each had a position on the project that we disclosed at the outset, further pledging to be open-minded to information that was presented to us. The truth is, True is an incentivized high-level employee of Northern Pass, so his assessment of our committee's work and conclusions are suspect. The committee put in countless hours of research and analysis and, in the end, it was not persuasive enough to overturn the fact that the project is not a good proposition for Deerfield on the whole, with what we know today. This does not make our work shoddy; it makes it not the outcome that True and Northern Pass had hoped for.

I'm proud to be a member of this committee and stand by the work we've done. All the towns that stand to be impacted by Northern Pass should take similar action and demand hard and fast data to back up any proposed benefits the Northern Pass Project is promising.

(Stephen Neily lives in Deerfield.)


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