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

Last modified: 4/15/2013 5:12:31 PM
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.)


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