Our Turn: State doesn’t need Northern Pass

Last modified: 10/31/2015 12:36:07 AM
The New Hampshire Sierra Club opposes the Northern Pass, above or below ground. Hydroelectric power from Quebec is not “clean” or “green” energy, as advertised by Hydro-Quebec and Eversource.

Northern Pass, if built, will transmit electricity generated in Canada and owned by the Province of Quebec for private sale to buyers in the Northeast. A Canadian Province of Quebec-owned company, Hydro-Quebec has dammed waterways, flooding vast land areas to generate the electricity. To market electricity, Hydro-Quebec proposes to finance the construction of a transmission line though New Hampshire on land easements owned by Eversource to sell beyond our borders.

Northern Pass is not environmentally friendly. It has a significant carbon footprint.

According to Hydro-Quebec’s own studies, it is as much as 70 percent of a natural gas power plant. The initial flooding required to create hydroelectric reservoirs destroys rivers, valleys and boreal forests, an important source of carbon sequestration and oxygen generation. Decomposing vegetation in the reservoir produces both CO2 and methane. Methane’s effect on climate disruption is 25 times worse than carbon dioxide.

Hydro-Quebec has flooded over 8.7 million acres and will continue to destroy more wilderness should we allow them to deliver power to America. The First Nation People have been removed from their flooded ancestral lands where they lived, hunted and fished for thousands of years. The resulting reservoirs have toxic levels of mercury, a byproduct of flooding. The First Nation People have engaged in countless lawsuits against Hydro-Quebec for breach of contracts, among other things.

At a time when New Hampshire’s burgeoning solar industry and energy efficiency programs could cut our greenhouse gases, give us clean air and produce thousands of good paying green jobs, we are allowing Eversource and Hydro-Quebec to perpetuate the old “business as usual” model at the expense of actual clean energy options. Don’t forget who we are dealing with – Eversource, the first “too big to fail” utility that went bankrupt from building Seabrook nuclear power plant and the same utility that is clinging to its old dirty coal plants until it gets ratepayers to bail it out, again. It has now found another way to be on the wrong side of history.

We have clean energy choices to make before committing billions of ratepayer dollars to massive projects that will exhaust budgets and chill future truly renewable energy. We should use the resources in New Hampshire to lower our energy bills – faster and cheaper energy saving programs that will help our economy without sacrificing our landscapes and communities.

The 10-year energy strategy is a great place to start. Hundreds of New Hampshire citizens helped draft the report with the governor’s office of energy and planning that spelled out the ways to improve and expand the existing energy programs, like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Renewable Portfolio Standard.

There are more Northern Pass considerations for property owners who will bear the burden of diminishing property values. It is important to recall that more than 75 years ago property owners agreed to the land easements with PSNH to provide local transmission and distribution lines for needed electricity to their communities and homes. Most sold PSNH the rights for 20 dollars per acre. The original intent did not include a high-voltage transmission superhighway from Canada, nor have past or current property owners ever been compensated for Northern Pass potential future use. The easements simply do not allow Northern Pass, above or below ground.

The Northern Pass is a commercial venture and not necessary, according to ISO New England, the regional nonprofit grid operator. Why are we allowing a publicly traded company to slice our state in half for an unnecessary transmission superhighway carrying dirty power from a foreign country through our state?

In response to the Oct. 18 editorial in the Monitor, “Not Ideal But Needed,” NHSC disagrees. New Hampshire is better than this. We can’t allow the corporate interests of Eversource, a Massachusetts-based company, and Hydro-Quebec, a company owned by a foreign government, to bisect the most beautiful state in America. Protect our environment and this beautiful gem we call New Hampshire. Stop the Northern Pass.

NHSC is asking landowners along existing Eversource easements, or rights of way, to send a copy of their documents so that we can evaluate the language and intent of the rights of the landowners. Please send to NHSC603@gmail.com or NHSC 40 N. Main St., 2nd Floor, Concord, NH 03301. We appreciate everyone’s participation.

(Jerry Curran is the chairman of the New Hampshire Sierra Club chapter. Catherine M. Corkery is the chapter’s state director.)


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