My Turn: Sununu doesn’t have the facts on Northern Pass

For the Monitor
Published: 8/21/2017 12:05:12 AM

In a recent interview on NHPR, Gov. Chris Sununu made a number of important statements regarding the Northern Pass that are incorrect.

The governor said, “Is pretty much the entire infrastructure going to be paid by Hydro-Quebec? Absolutely.” That is incorrect. Despite the Northern Pass claim that Hydro-Quebec would pay for the construction of the Northern Pass, Hydro-Quebec issued a press release stating it would not pay for “a penny” of construction of the Northern Pass on U.S. soil.

“There’s no doubt it (Northern Pass) brings 1,100 megawatts of clean, renewable energy to the Granite State and Granite State ratepayers,” according to Sununu. Incorrect. The Power Purchase Agreement Northern Pass wanted, to allow them to buy power from Hydro-Quebec and resell it, reserving about 10 percent for New Hampshire, failed. Twice. There currently will be no power from the Northern Pass for New Hampshire or New Hampshire ratepayers other than through the New England grid, the normal process.

“Are we going to get lower rates on energy costs? No doubt.” states Sununu. Again, incorrect. The facts are the power from the Northern Pass will not go to New Hampshire and the ratepayers will not receive any benefit. We could pay more. President Bill Quinlan stated, under oath, “there is a possibility New Hampshire consumers may have to pay some for the construction of the Northern Pass.”

For rates to decrease, two factors must be considered: the cost of the energy and the cost of transporting that power. The price of energy has been decreasing while the transportation costs have been escalating, thanks in large part to Eversource, as they control the majority of the transmission lines in New England.

“Are 90 percent of the towers already there? Yes,” according to Sununu. “They get a little taller.” That statement implies the towers will be just as they are but a “little taller.” That is again incorrect. The Northern Pass website states, “The Northern Pass will ‘construct’ lines that operate at voltages of +/-320 kV DC and 345 kV AC. These higher voltages require greater height and separation for safety.” There will be new towers, more towers, higher structures, many steel lattice towers with arms and 140 monopoles – totally different from the mostly 45-foot to 75-foot wooden poles used now.

Sununu stated 90 percent of this project is already in an existing right of way. Again, an erroneous statement. According to the Northern Pass website, “More than 80 percent of the 192-mile route will be located beneath public roadways or within existing transmission corridors.” Sununu infers, by using existing right of ways, there will be little disruption and construction will be minimal. Rights of way will have to be expanded, huge concrete footings for the gigantic, mostly steel towers will have to be poured and beneath public roadways is not an existing transmission corridor. That process will disrupt our town centers, businesses and traffic, and infringe on private properties.

The governor stated he has not placed a single person on the SEC. Not true. Within 2½ months, he has placed Robert Scott as commissioner of the DES and Michael Giaimo as a member of the PUC, both of whom will subsequently sit on the SEC. They supposedly will not serve on the Northern Pass case, but a scenario does exist in which that could happen.

Gov. Sununu, if Northern Pass gets built, it will be on your watch. You will own it. History will associate your name with the hideous towers and destruction of our beautiful views. Are you confident that you are hearing the whole truth about this project? Your “facts” suggest you are not.

(Dolly McPhaul lives in Sugar Hill.)

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