Friday, July 6, 2018

Northern Pass Opposition Archive Opens in Sugar Hill, N.H.


Grassroots Victory Over Northern Pass To Be Archived For Future Generations

Wanted: Any Northern Pass Materials You Have

Robert Blechl
Caledonian Record
July 6, 2018








The Sugar Hill Historical Museum is now collecting Northern Pass materials that for a permanent archive to document the successful fight by grassroots citizens. Left to right: Sugar Hill resident Nancy Martland, Easton resident Susan Schibanoff, and Easton resident Kris Pastoriza (all members of the archive advisory committe), and museum director Kitty Bigelow. (Photo by Robert Blechl)



SUGAR HILL — Wanted: anything you have on Northern Pass
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The Sugar Hill Historical Museum will now house a permanent archive of all things Northern Pass-related - hats, T-shirts, road signs, videos, documents, and more - to educate future generations about the seven-year grassroots fight, provide instruction on how to confront similar projects in the future if they ever arise, and memorialize a consequential part of North Country history.

The Northern Pass Opposition Archives is the brainchild of Easton resident Susan Schibanoff, who said in the course of opposing Northern Pass she tried to gather information on Easton’s 1970s battle against the ultimately defeated proposal for a four-lane highway through Franconia Notch, but found scant information.

“That grassroots effort to fight wasn’t preserved,” she said. “But we can preserve these materials so the person who does want to write this history will have access to the material.”

Currently at the Sugar Hill Historical museum are multiple versions of Northern Pass hats, T-shirts, and signs as well as lapel pins celebrating the documentary “The Power of Place” by Jerry Monkman and the Yankee Magazine article “My Roots Are Deeper Than Your Pockets.”

“We also have endless buttons and bumper stickers,” said Schibanoff. “We have posters and lawn signs and will also take documents.”

A request is now being made to residents of Grafton and Coos counties asking them to deliver what they have to the museum for posterity.

“This is a museum and everything is carefully recorded,” said Northern Pass opponent and Sugar Hill resident Nancy Martland. “Every piece people give will become part of a digitized record.”

The material, said Martland, will not be thrown willy-nilly into a box, but will be professionally archived.

While some people may not want to part with what they have, leaving it with the museum will ensure it’s preserved and not some day discarded by a relative after a death or a move, said Schibanoff.

The money for the Sugar Hill Historical Museum to archive is being provided through grants and an anonymous donor for the You Have Our Trust fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

The town of Easton will also provide additional storage.

In addition to documenting the resistance of grassroots citizens, the archive will preserve the involvement of environmental, conservation, and non-governmental organizations, and make all the material available to researchers exploring the history of the opposition movement.

The museum in Sugar Hill might also, from time to time, put the archived materials into exhibits.

Other artifacts sought for collection are banners, bows, pins, post cards, CDs, and videos as well as magazine articles, newspaper clippings, and letters to the editor.

Photographs of events and photographs of items too large to store will also be preserved.

The museum will decline redundant materials.

Materials that can be submitted in person during the museum’s open hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday until Columbus Day.

Items can also be sent via U.S. mail.

Those donating documents or other materials electronically are asked to not email large files to the museum, but to put what they have on flash or thumb drives.

Those donating are asked to include a statement with the name of the donor, a brief description of the artifact, and the date of its creation.

The archive advisory committee includes Martland, Schibanoff, and Easton resident Kris Pastoriza.

For more information, contact museum director Kitty Bigelow at kittyh41@gmail.com or Schibanoff at burynorthernpass@gmail.com.

In February, after more than two years under review, the seven-member N.H. Site Evaluation Committee unanimously denied the Northern Pass application submitted by Eversource Energy.

After 70 days of evidentiary hearings involving 154 witnesses and review of more than 2,000 exhibits, the SEC did not find that Eversource met its burden of proof in proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Northern Pass as proposed would not unduly interfere with the orderly economic development of the region.

The 192-mile line would have been almost all above-ground in Coos County, where towers would have been about 100 feet tall, with more than 50 miles of buried line along state roads through towns from Bethlehem to Bridgewater.

While it would have been a moneymaker for Eversource - $10 billion in revenue during the 40-year term of the line, including a $4 billion in guaranteed profit, according to the company’s federal filings - opponents argued Northern Pass would have destroyed scenic views and property values, would have hurt the tourism industry, and would have negatively impacted small businesses during the burial portion of construction in the roadways outside their front doors.

Scores of North Country residents testified during the SEC hearings and many more stayed mobilized for more than half a decade to defeat Northern Pass.

On May 24, the SEC denied a request by Eversource to resume the deliberations the committee ended Feb. 2.

Once the May denial is formalized in a written order, Eversource can appeal the SEC’s decision to the N.H. Supreme Court.

Opponents are confident the SEC decision is sound and will withstand any appeal by Eversource.

The other reason to get the word out now about the Northern Pass archive is because when people are in the thick of a fight they are not concerned with saving what they have, said Schibanoff, who four years into the Northern Pass fight had accumulated so much material she began culling it.

In addition to the Franconia Notch Parkway fight, Martland said a similar Northern Pass fight, one that involved a proposed above-ground transmission line slated for scenic areas of upstate New York that was also stopped by citizens, likewise wasn’t well-documented.

Martland doesn’t want the same fate to befall the battle of Northern Pass.

“Please help us grow this archive,” said Schibanoff.

The Sugar Hill Historical Museum, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is located at 1401 Route 117, across from Harman's Cheese and the Sugar Hill Post Office. The mailing address is Sugar Hill Historical Museum, P.O. Box 591, Sugar Hill N.H. 03586. Museum open hours are 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Contact Executive Director Kitty Bigelow at kittyh41@gmail.com or Susan Schibanoff at burynorthernpass@gmail.com for further information concerning the Archive project. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Northern Pass: Municipal Views

Northern Pass: Municipal Views

"This application for a Certificate of Site and Facility is unprecedented to the extent that it is a private merchant transmission line that is one of the most controversial and opposed energy projects in New Hampshire history. There has never been an approval of a high voltage transmission line energy project in which the vast majority of the host municipalities and unincorporated places have intervened and actively opposed a proposed project."  Northern Pass Docket 2015-06: Post Hearing Memorandum of Municipal Groups 1 South, 2, 3 South, and 3 North, January 12, 2018, p. 1.

For a 2011-2014 archive of Municipal Views, click here.




EASTON (2/3/2018)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Northern Pass Business Directory Stirs Some Controversy



Northern Pass Business Directory Stirs Some Controversy


Robert Blechl
Caledonian Record
December 16, 2017

Wrong names, closed businesses, and ones who say they never signed up and oppose the project - all can be found on the recently released Northern Pass business directory, which Eversource Energy had wanted to keep confidential at this point.

Of the 208 businesses on it, many did sign up, with some saying they don’t necessary support Northern Pass, but if the line is ever approved it would benefit their enterprise and other small, local businesses that would see traffic from work crews building the line.

Others, however, were surprised and perplexed, and some angry, to find themselves on it and are now trying to get off a directory they say they never registered for and that conveys the impression they support the project when they don’t.

On Friday, Eversource/Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray said, “Support of the project was never asked for nor required of any business to be listed, and all the businesses in the directory did previously indicate their respective agreement to be listed.”

Some business owners in the North Country said there was no such agreement.

One is Kate Foley, who runs Cold Mountain Cafe in Bethlehem.

“We do not support the Northern Pass and are outraged that we were added to the list,” she said in a Dec. 3 letter to Tom Getz, attorney for Eversource Energy, which is proposing the transmission line. “In fact, we are horrified to be connected to this endeavor in any way.”

She asked that Cold Mountain Cafe be removed and requested a written apology from Eversource “to show all our customers and people of our community that we are not supporting the Northern Pass.”

Getz issued a response letter, saying a “community outreach team member” spoke with a “Kate” in 2015 about participating in the business directory.

Foley, however, said no such contact occurred. Her mother, Coleen Foley, said the same.

In his response, Getz, who said Cold Mountain Cafe will be removed, said the list was created to ensure local businesses would benefit from the project.

For some, though, that doesn’t explain how their businesses - more than a half dozen the Caledonian-Record spoke with, from Littleton to Pittsburg - became listed on a directory they never sought to be on.

“We did not give them any kind of permission for that,” said Tom Caron, co-owner of Rainbow Grille and Tavern in Pittsburg. “No one stopped by to my knowledge. We came out against Northern Pass, in a letter written under Tall Timber Lodge, so I’m not sure how it came to be.”

Another is Le Rendez Vous French Bakery, Colebrook, owned by Verlaine Daeron and Marc Ounis.

“We never signed up, but we have our name on the list,” Daeron said Friday.

They did receive a friendly email from Eversource on Thursday stating their name would be removed, she said.

“We prefer not to be associated with Northern Pass,” said Verlaine. “We are against that.”

In Littleton, there is The French Sisters Bakery.

Owner Patricia Ann Tilton said her husband, Rick, learned of their business’s listing after the N.H. Site Evaluation publicly released the directory on Nov. 20. The implication, she said, was that French Sisters supports the project.

“That’s not the case at all,” said Tilton. “I don’t know how they got our names and how this came about.”

Rodney Stone, who runs Twisted Wrench Auto Repair in Bethlehem, said he also never signed up and it’s a mystery to how he got on there.

On the directory, too, is the Spare Time Pizza Pub, in Colebrook, whose name was changed three years ago to Strike Zone Pizza, and Colebrook House Motel and Restaurant, which closed several years ago.

Another entry is the Dancing Bear Pub in Colebrook, which closed in 2015 and is now the location of Black Bear Tavern.

“Dancing Bear Pub hasn’t existed for 2 1/2 years,” said Black Bear Tavern owner Rick Nadig, who said he is not in favor of the project. “Personally, I don’t care whether I’m in the directory or not. But if you’re going to put out a directory, make sure the information is correct.”

Heidi Milbrand, who runs Pleasant View B&B in Bristol, found out from a Bristol town representative.

“I never signed up for anything,” she said. “I’ve called [Northern Pass] twice and spoken with somebody who assured me my name would be removed, but it hasn’t been removed as of yet.”

Doug Kenney, who runs Crazy Horse Family Campground in Littleton, said the previous campground owner, when a few years ago it was called Crazy Horse Campground, could have had something to do with the inclusion of the latter name.

“We didn’t put our names on it,” said Kenney.

Others, however, did sign up, including the seasonal Barron Brook Inn, in Whitefield.

Owner Beth Cape, a member of Northern Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the inn could provide lodging to construction workers.

“If you own a business, you can’t discriminate,” she said. “That doesn’t mean we support it, but we are a hospitality business, and if you look up the word hospitality, you have to open your doors to all … My job is to help businesses and promote our business. There is some trickle-down effect to local businesses.”

Cape called Northern Pass a “tough situation” and said if the line was going near her property she would not be happy.​

Shawn Cote, of LL Cote sports center in Errol, also said he chose to be on the directory.

“Being a businessman, if it’s coming through I’d just as soon be on the good side of things than the bad,” he said. “There will be plenty of people around and we definitely need some business in this area.”

The city of Franklin, which would have a DC-to-AC converter station and is the only municipality out of the 31 communities the line would run through that is on record supporting Northern Pass, has 46, or nearly a quarter, of the 208 directory listings.

Franconia, Sugar Hill, and Plymouth, all hotbeds of opposition, have no listings.

For Cold Mountain Cafe, Coleen Foley said when she asked representatives of Northern Pass how businesses get on the directory, she was told they have to register.

“That is not certainly anything we did,” she said.

Murray declined to recount the process of how businesses were contacted, who from Northern Pass visited area businesses, and what was said to them about the directory.

He also declined to say how many businesses to date have contacted Eversource requesting removal of their names and if the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee was also a target audience for the directory to show business support for the project.

The Northern Pass business directory web page has a prompt for owners of lodging establishments, restaurants, gas stations, convenience and hardware stores and other businesses to actively sign up if they want to be included.

In testimony before the SEC, lead Northern Pass project manager Sam Johnson, when asked about economic impacts, said between 200 and 300 businesses registered with Northern Pass through a jobs hot line.

He said businesses have to register to be on the list and, when notified, are directed to a web site to put their name in.

“That, in effect, is the way we do it,” said Johnson.

It is completely sensible to produce a listing of businesses that are available to provide services for what would be some 2,000 Northern Pass construction workers, said Murray.

Eversource sought confidential treatment of listed businesses because of concern for their privacy, he said.

“We will honor the request of any business who does not wish to be listed on the directory when it is actually published and disseminated at the time construction begins,” said Murray.