Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hydro Quebec's mind boggling profit makes Northern Pass burial look more "economic" every day

Line burial looks more “economic” every day 

Coos County Democrat
Littleton Courier 
September 21, 2016


As the President and Chief Executive Officer of Hydro-Québec, Éric Martel spends a lot of time smiling. Who cares, he probably thinks, that the company's profit was $37 million less in the second quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. After all, for the first six months of this year, the company posted a profit of nearly $1.9 billion. Once again, this editor would like to congratulate the foreign monopoly for making so much money. He would also like to ask why Martel does not seem interested in using some of Hydro-Québec's $432,692 of hourly profit to completely satisfy residents of Northern New Hampshire. As the entity that would build Northern Pass, the hydropower transmission project through our state, Hydro-Québec has plenty of money to fully bury the project. 

Previously, this editor used the figure of $370,000 to describe Hydro-Québec's hourly profit. Mr. Martel and his company keep finding ways to bring home more bacon. Now making about $60,000 an hour more compared to last year, no rational argument can be made that Northern Pass cannot afford the approximately $1 billion of extra cost to fully bury the power line. Hydro-Québec can make nearly that much money in an average three-month span. 

The project likes to say that full burial is “uneconomic” for Northern Pass. They say this because the foreign shareholders of Hydro-Québec would prefer to put their massive profits elsewhere. No one can say with a straight face that completely burying Northern Pass is anything but “economic,” due to how much money Hydro-Québec keeps making. Many people in our region work really hard all year without making ten percent of what Hydro-Québec takes to the bank in an hour. Hopefully, the company and Northern Pass will stop insulting our intelligence by saying the money just is not there to make invisible the 130 miles of proposed aboveground lines.

Just in proposed form, without a speck of dirt moved to construct the project, Northern Pass can do much to alter the order of things in our region. Sugar Hill's Dolly McPhaul took her intense opposition to the project on the road during a Republican primary campaign for State Senate. Without having held elective office before, McPhaul defeated a highly experienced elected official who many rightfully deemed as wishy washy on Northern Pass. The result of the primary contest has issued a warning to all politicians who seem closer to the billions Hydro-Québec makes than the perspective of residents in our region who simply cannot accept Northern Pass as proposed. And this editor would once again like to say to our elected officials: resign if you cannot side with the people of this region demanding that Éric Martel pay for a fully buried Northern Pass that makes New Hampshire happy.

An old saying notes, “To whom much is given, much is required.” Congratulations, once again, to Éric Martel and the economic powerhouse of a company he leads. Much has been given to him. Now it is finally time, nearly six years after Northern Pass was first proposed, that the project is required to spend the dollars necessary to completely bury the transmission lines. Martel can make all the money he wants. He simply should not be allowed to change so much about New Hampshire while pocketing a mind boggling amount of money.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An Icy Glare from Northern Pass

Coos County Democrat
August 3, 2016
An icy glare from Northern Pass
In May, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services issued a letter about Northern Pass. DES appeared to suggest that the 192-mile hydropower transmission project needed to do more to minimize construction impacts on wetlands and other sensitive areas. The regulator's letter pointed toward the desirability of a new route and more line burial in Coös County. Although DES was not making official conclusions against issuance of needed permits, Northern Pass must have felt some doubts about the viability of the project's preferred route. With a recent response to DES, however, the project gave an icy glare to a regulatory entity.

This editor must give some credit to Northern Pass. The project's financial backers have already spent a great deal of money examining the project's impacts on wetlands. In public hearings and letters, some critics of Northern Pass concede the the project's wetlands analysis was well done. Northern Pass is not just going through the motions on the application process. There seems to be a legitimate interest in decreasing certain wetlands impacts while promoting the state fund that provides money to protect wetlands in other parts of the state.

However, the project may not have made the best decisions in the recent response to DES. Instead of really detailing the project's commitment to lessening impacts on the environment, Northern Pass stressed how the state cannot push back too hard. By doing so, Northern Pass suggested time and again, the big money making dream that is the proposed transmission line might not happen. The DES ideas on further line burial to protect more wetlands "is not practicable," Northern Pass brazenly asserted.

The state's Site Evaluation Committee, which will make the call on whether the project receives a construction permit, should be watching the Northern Pass wetlands debate quite closely. As the project keeps its eye on the prize, earning billions of dollars over the next few decades, the SEC needs to remember who the big money maker from Northern Pass will be, Hydro Quebec. The company, as this editor likes to say over and over again, makes $370,000 of profit every hour. Regardless of what Northern Pass wants state regulators to believe, Hydro Quebec has plenty of money to fully bury the project in a way that satisfies New Hampshire. The extra $1 billion to achieve complete burial might make Northern Pass "uneconomic" to those whose first desire is to placate a foreign monopoly like Hydro Quebec. But the project needs to remember that regulators must be satisfied with how issues like wetlands impact are resolved.

The late Ray Burton inspired us in so many ways. Perhaps his finest hour occurred during testimony at Northern Pass hearings. Burton said Hydro Quebec needs to find the money to fully bury the line, or fold its tent and go home. Anyone examining Hydro Quebec's financial statements can see the money is there. Just because the company does not want to spend four months of profit to make New Hampshire happy does not mean state regulators must fall into line. DES, the SEC, and all other state entities with a dog in the Northern Pass fight must remember that they work for us, not the shareholders of a foreign government. Northern Pass will place Hydro Quebec's financial well being at the forefront, but there is no reason for regulators to cower before the mighty monopoly. The residents of the North Country certainly are not doing so.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

CFP's August 9th meeting on NPT for Town Conservation Commissions


New Hampshire Association

of Conservation Commissions


54 Portsmouth Street, Concord, NH 03301 | (603) 224-7867 |


Date: July 19, 2016

To: Conservation Commission Members affected by Northern Pass proposal

Subject: Meeting with Counsel for the Public, Peter Roth and Associates

When: Tuesday, August 9, 6 pm at Conservation Center, 54 Portsmouth St. Concord

Re: Northern Pass Proposal before the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC)

From: Barbara Richter, Executive Director, New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions


As you know, the Northern Pass transmission line proposal (SEC Docket #2015-06) is

currently under review by the NH Site Evaluation Committee. This process is governed by

NH RSA 162-H and Administrative Rules # Site 100- Site 300. RSA 162-H:9 provides for a

Counsel for the Public with the duty to “represent the public in seeking to protect the quality

of the environment and in seeking to assure an adequate supply of energy.” Peter Roth is

currently the Counsel for the Public.

Mr. Roth has asked our office to assist him to organize a meeting of conservation commission

members in affected communities along the proposed route. Given that the proposed

transmission line would cover 192 miles within the state, the logistics of such a meeting will

be cumbersome at best.

 While the NHACC Board of Directors voted not to take a position on the Northern Pass

proposal, we do recognize the need for information exchange, especially with the Counsel for

the Public who is responsible for representing the public interest before the SEC. We have

agreed to assist him in this effort. Conservation commissions have unique knowledge about

the natural resources, protections, ordinances and special circumstances within your

communities. This meeting will provide an opportunity to share this vital information with

Mr. Roth who will review this information with his experts to better represent the public

interest before the Site Evaluation Committee.

We will be able to use meeting space here at the Forest Society’s Conservation Center and we

realize that not everyone is able to attend at this time. For those with timing or distance

constraints, we could work with you to either call or video chat into the meeting.

Please let me know whether you will be able to attend this meeting.

Also, since information is key, could you please provide copies of your town’s conservation

plan, natural resource inventory or other pertinent reports you have in either electronic or

hard copy format directly to me either via e-mail or hard copies so we may coordinate it and

get the information to Mr. Roth in advance of the meeting.
NHACC contact info: