My Turn: The truth matters when it comes to our energy future

For the Monitor
Sunday, March 19, 2017

This month, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services announced that its technical review of the Northern Pass project is complete and recommended approval of the application by the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee. Included in this approval, Northern Pass agrees to set aside more than 1,600 acres throughout the state to preserve key habitats and species, such as high-elevation forest land and the Karner blue butterfly, as well as $3.3 million to be used for conservation efforts selected by the state.

Northern Pass also recently submitted to the SEC an updated economic analysis that shows the project will reduce annual CO2 emissions by 3.2 million tons – equal to the emissions of 670,000 cars – save New Hampshire customers $63 million in annual energy costs and boost New Hampshire’s economy by more than $2.1 billion.

These facts and others, which can be found in official SEC documents on Northern Pass, refute numerous falsehoods found in Judy Reardon’s recent column about Northern Pass (Monitor Forum, March 4).

Reardon paints an absurdly apocalyptic vision of the region’s largest proposed clean energy project, using a suspect critique of a Northern Pass economic analysis.

Here are the facts: Northern Pass will bring substantial benefits to the state, including 2,600 jobs during construction, $30 million annually in local and state tax revenue, and a massive amount of clean energy that will help us reach our climate goals and make our air cleaner.

More than 80 percent of the proposed Northern Pass route is located in existing transmission corridors or under public roadways, thus eliminating potential view impacts in the White Mountain National Forest, the Appalachian Trail and Franconia Notch State Park.

It is simply not true to say that New Hampshire will not get the power or will pay for the project. New Hampshire customers will not pay any costs associated with the project.

Moreover, a power purchase agreement between Eversource and Hydro-Québec, which is now before state regulators for approval, will ensure that New Hampshire voters receive the advantages of power at beneficial prices.

Protect the Granite State, which has hired Reardon, can’t even tell the truth about itself. This organization claims to be “grassroots” but filed as a not-for-profit group in Delaware, has revealed little about its members and has kept its funding sources secret.

Reardon argues, “Facts are stubborn things.” Yet, as their recent actions show, anonymous groups like Protect the Granite State are completely unaccountable for the incorrect information they spread.

We agree that energy projects require a thorough review, and Northern Pass is currently in the midst of the permitting process at both the federal and state levels. The project has submitted tens of thousands of pages of engineering and environmental studies to ensure that all permitting agencies have the information necessary to render their decisions.

Many New Hampshire citizens, business owners and elected officials recognize the need to diversify our energy fuel mix. Northern Pass will deliver a reliable and affordable clean energy source, and provide robust economic and environmental benefits to New Hampshire. We look forward to presenting facts about the project during the upcoming state siting hearings.

(Martin Murray is a spokesman for the Northern Pass transmission project. He is based in Manchester.)