Friday, August 29, 2014

Ayotte: Bury it all along state roads - "We're worth it."

Press and social media coverage of U. S. Senator Kelly Ayotte's hike in the White Mountain National Forest along the proposed Northern Pass route, August 28, 2014.

At the crossing of Reel Brook Trail and proposed Northern Pass route, Easton, Senator Ayotte
is briefed by officials of the Appalachian Mountain Club, Forest Society, Easton Select Board
and Conservation Commission (Twitter photos)

At the Reel Brook Crossing in Easton
From "News From Senator Ayotte's Office," August 29, 2014

Ayotte: All Of Northern Pass Should Be Buried

Robert Blechl
Staff Writer
Caledonian Record

EASTON, N.H. -- Coming off a hike to the Kinsman Ridge, near where Northern Pass towers would go, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, issued her strongest position to date on the line - that all of it should be buried, along highway corridors.

"My concern is that a big part of New Hampshire and its natural beauty are being jeopardized by the height of the towers," Ayotte said Thursday afternoon to a group of more than a dozen at Easton Town Hall.

The Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission line proposes 180 miles of steel towers about 100 feet high, a portion of which would pass through Easton and the White Mountain National Forest.

Ayotte underscored the concerns of thousands of residents across the state about devaluation of properties near the line, scarring of the natural landscape, and a negative impact on the tourist industry.

"This is about all of us," she said. "It's not just the North Country."

As examples that burial can be done with existing technology, she pointed to other transmission line projects, such as the Champlain-Hudson Power Express in Vermont - initially proposed as an overhead line before aesthetic and other concerns arose - that will include more than 130 miles of line buried along transportation corridors.

"My view is that's what should be done here, but right now we have not seen that alternative produced," said Ayotte.

Northern Pass, a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities, is proposing its line mostly along the existing Public Service of New Hampshire right-of-way, a route that, according to federal filings, would generate about $10 billion in known revenue for NU during the 40-year term of the line.

But if the Champlain Valley is worth line burial, so is the North Country and New Hampshire, she said.

Of New Hampshire's mountains and landscape, she said, "It's a big part of our economy and who we are."

"It's a great resource we all enjoy and has been a great driver of economic strength," said Ayotte, pointing to the millions of tourists who flock annually to the region.

She said Thursday's hike, with members of the Easton Conservation Commission, gave her the opportunity to see the potential impact.

If the Canadian hydro-power is to be imported, Ayotte said I-91 in Vermont or I-93 in New Hampshire should be studied in earnest.

In attendance Thursday were state Rep. Sue Ford, D-Easton, and Andy Smith, owner-broker of Peabody and Smith Reality.

Smith said local properties near where the line would go are already seeing a detrimental impact to their value. He also called northern New Hampshire's unspoiled beauty a legacy.

"This is not just a local issue," said Smith. "It's a New Hampshire problem and a New Hampshire legacy we would not get back."

Ford said a recent law has changed the process of the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee, the state permitting agency for energy projects that must now have two members from the public.

Next legislative session, a bill will be written to create an energy corridor along highways, she said.

For Northern Pass to go through, it must obtain many permits, chief among them a Presidential Permit from the U.S. Department of Energy, which is currently putting together an Environmental Impact Study on the project.

On Aug. 18, the New Hampshire Delegation to Washington D.C., which includes Ayotte, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and U.S. Democratic Reps. Ann Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, wrote to the DOE about its scoping report alternatives addendum issued May 1.

To the agency, the delegates said there are two key elements that were not part of the addendum that warrant consideration and study.

"Specifically, the report does not call for a comprehensive study of the burial of transmission lines along existing highway corridors, nor does it consider a second international crossing other than the crossing at Hall's Stream in Pittsburg," they said. "These two alternatives were not included in the addendum despite the large number of public comments at the scoping hearings requesting investigation into the possibility of these two options."

As senator, Ayotte said she will push DOE to be more transparent and open and also push for a thorough study of entire line burial along transportation corridors.

"This is how the project should be done if it is to go forward," Ayotte said at the Easton gathering. "We're worth it."

Sen. Ayotte addresses group at the Easton Town Hall after hiking the proposed
Northern Pass route on the Reel Brook Trail in Easton/WMNF (BNP photo)

Ayotte says Northern Pass lines should be buried beneath roads
John Koziol
Union Leader
August 28, 2014

To get a first-hand perspective of where in Easton the proposed Northern Pass transmission project would go, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte took a hike in the Gingerbread Road area of Easton Thursday and then told a group of pass opponents at Easton Town Hall that the entire transmission line should be buried beneath state roads. (JOHN KOZIOL/Union Leader Correspondent)
EASTON — Citing a precedent in New York and echoing a recommendation by the town’s Conservation Commission, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) on Thursday said the Northern Pass transmission project should be entirely buried beneath New Hampshire’s roads.

Appearing at Easton Town Hall Thursday afternoon, just minutes after having hiked through the Gingerbread Road area to get a closer look at how Northern Pass would affect this town of 270 people, Ayotte said the beauty of the White Mountains should and could be preserved and that the Northern Pass could proceed if the transmission lines were buried “along an existing highway corridor.”

That point, as well as a suggestion that Northern Pass consider a second international crossing other than that at Hall’s Stream in Pittsburg, was made in an Aug. 18 letter from Ayotte and the rest of the state’s Congressional delegation to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Northern Pass would bring hydroelectricity from Quebec into the U.S. along a 187-mile long line in New Hampshire. Northeast Utilities, the corporate parent of Public Service of New Hampshire and Northern Pass Transmission LLC, has an agreement with HydroQuebec for it to lease the Northern Pass transmission lines.

Proponents say the $1.4 billion project will create 1,200 construction jobs, put 1,200 megawatts of renewable electricity into the New England power grid, and, over its 40-year life, will generate some $1 billion in new municipal property tax revenues in New Hampshire.

Opponents of Northern Pass have criticized its intrusion into and despoilment of the North Country, both esthetically and economically.

A presidential permit is needed to allow Canadian power to come into the U.S. and the review process also involves the Department of Defense and the Secretary of State, both of which, Ayotte explained, typically defer to the DOE in energy-transmission cases.

Ned Cutler, who chairs Easton’s Board of Selectmen, said that in 2012 the Town Meeting voted unanimously to say it opposed Northern Pass unless it was buried underground. He said yesterday that several property owners have already asked the selectmen how to get abatements because they expected a drop in the assessed values of their properties should Northern Pass go through town above ground.

In 2013, the Easton Conservation Commission took upon itself the task of finding an alternative route for Northern Pass through town and last November it came up with a recommendation that sounded a lot like Ayotte’s on Thursday: bury Northern Pass along the Interstate 93 corridor between Bethlehem and Woodstock, thereby entirely avoiding Easton and the White Mountain National Forest in which it sits.

The bury-it-under-the-road approach gained traction earlier this month when the DOE, in reviewing the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express, which would bring power from Canada to the New York Metro Area, said burying 141 miles of the 336-miles of transmission lines under existing highways would be a good idea.

Both Cutler and Conservation Commission Chair Roy Stever said they’d like to see Ayotte push for burying Northern Pass and Ayotte said she would.

The technology exists to bury the transmission lines, Ayotte said, adding that the Easton Conservation Commission recognized that fact as did the DOE with the Champlain Hudson Power Express project.

What the conservation commission proposed just in Easton should be done down the entire length of Northern Pass, said Ayotte, and the DOE should require Northern Pass to study it, and then, ultimately, it should do it.

“We’re worth it,” said Ayotte, noting that the New York transmission project was also intended to run above ground, but didn’t.

After a burst of polite applause died down, Ayotte continued that “This is obviously a very important issue to the Town of Easton and the state.”

“This is about all of us,” she said, “not just the North Country.”

Senator Ayotte talks with residents of Gingerbread Village, Easton, which would be severely
affected by proposed Northern Pass towers (Twitter photo)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Voter Guide to NH State Senate Primaries (Sept. 9, 2014)

Recent Published Statements on Northern Pass by Candidates in Primary Races for NH State Senate, September 9, 2014*
(For incumbents, "yea" or "nay" vote on HB569, "burial bill," 5/15/2014, is noted)
District 1. Republican Mark Evans v. Dolly McPhaul (write-in). Jeff Woodburn (D) incumbent.
- Mark Evans, Berlin, Republican [listed candidate, Republican primary, Sept. 9]
Northern Pass in its current form will place a scar on the land we depend on, harm our economy, and offer virtually nothing in return. As your next Senator I will oppose this project.
- Dolly McPhaul, Sugar Hill, Republican [write-in candidate, Republican primary, Sept. 9]
I am absolutely opposed to the Northern Pass, but will compromise and accept TOTAL burial. Total burial only... NO partial burial. That is the extent to which I will compromise; partial burial is not an option. Burial should be along existing roadways and railroad beds with the New Hampshire state government earning the lease money revenues.
There is no reason the good people of New Hampshire should have to sacrifice, in any way, to enable Public Service of New Hampshire and Northeast Utilities an increase in revenue. Property value loss has already affected many landowners. Tower and transmission line placement next to many buildings, including the Profile Junior Senior High School in Bethlehem, NH is a potentially horrifying health hazard our children and teachers should not have to endure. The loss of tourism and second homeowners has the possibility of destroying our already fragile economy. Our spectacular natural beauty must not be sacrificed for any reason, especially for a company whose only goal is increased profits. We must protect our beauty for the generations to come.
The Northern Pass is a unnecessary transmission line project that offers no real benefit to New Hampshire. It must be stopped.
 - Jeff Woodburn, Dalton, Democrat, incumbent, elected in 2012 [yea on 569]
I’m against the proposed Northern Pass. I’ve been a leader in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and in the North Country personalizing this issue for state leaders.  I sponsored and/or co-sponsored all the anti-Northern Pass legislation introduced during the 2013-14 legislative session.  I have said again and again -- that for this project to win the support of the people it must provide a local say and a local benefit. To date, PSNH has fallen short on both counts. I have encouraged PSNH to present a reasonable proposal that protects our beautiful, inspiring landscapes and provides tangible benefits to our struggling communities and working families.   This is the ideal and will continue to guide my votes on these matters.  I promised the people to work with everyone, be practical, independent and get things done for the North Country. That’s what I’ve done and that’s what I’ll continue to do.
Source: Sugar Hill Tower Opponents survey.

Senator Woodburn, Guest Commentary ("North Country Energy Challenges"), July 18, 2014.

Senator Woodburn, Colebrook Chronicle interview on Northern Pass, August 15, 2014.

Dolly McPhaul, Caledonian Record interview, August 25, 2014.
District 2. Republican  Jeanie Forrester (incumbent; yea on 569) v. Tim Condon

"Forrester, an early opponent of the Northern Pass, fought the project for years over its efforts to employ eminent domain, and remains strongly opposed, calling it 'effectively a big extension cord going through New Hampshire to go to Connecticut and Massachusetts.'

"Condon, on the other hand, has indicated that he backs the project, which calls for running new transmission lines through northern New Hampshire in order to carry Canadian hydropower to southern New England.

“'Energy is the lifeblood of a modern economy,' he wrote in a 2011 blog post about Northern Pass."


District 8. Republican Jerry Little v. J.P. Marzullo

District 11. Republican Garry Daniels v. Daniel Dwyer v. Dan Hynes v. Maureen Mooney

District 12. Republican Kevin Avard v. Michael McCarthy

District 15. Democratic   Dan Feltes v. Kass Ardinger

Feltes: “I think that (Gov. Maggie Hassan) has said something that is prudent, which is that it is still possible to get reliable hydropower from Quebec without sacrificing our tourism industry and without sacrificing our natural beauty.”
Ardinger: “We have an over-reliance on one source of energy, which is natural gas. We experienced the price spikes last winter. That will only continue if we don’t diversify the source of electricity that goes into the New England grid.

James Pindell interviews Kass Ardinger (Northern Pass comments start at 05:50).

District 16. Republican  David Boutin (incumbent; nay on 569) v. Jane Cormier

Boutin did not answer  LFDA Question 8: "Do you support or oppose the Northern Pass project?"

District 18. Republican  Robyn N. Dunphy v. George Lambert

District 19. Republican  Regina Birdsell v. Jim Foley v. Frank Sapareto

District 21. Republican Dennis Lamare v. Peter Macdonald v. Phil Nazzaro

Macdonald: "I support the Northern Pass project as currently proposed." 2014 LFDA Questionnaire

District 24. Republican  Nancy Stiles (incumbent; nay on 569) v. Steve Kenda

Stiles: "I would consider supporting the Northern Pass project with appropriate modifications to the plan." 2014 LFDA Questionnaire

Kenda: "I would consider supporting the Northern Pass project with appropriate modifications to the plan." 2014 LFDA Questionnaire


*Please send statements, with a link to their source, to us for inclusion. We reserve the right not to accept submissions.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Northern Pass Opposition Rally 7/13/2014

B - W - O
Northern Pass Opposition Rally
This Sunday, July 13, 2014
3:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Join other Northern Pass Opposition members this Sunday afternoon in Bretton Woods to stand tall for New Hampshire and demand that Northeast Utilities and Hydro-Quebec either build this project right (underground, all the way), or, as Executive Councilor Ray Burton used to say, pack up their tents and go home.
Why now? Why Bretton Woods?
 The New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers will hold their annual meeting at The Mount Washington Hotel on July 14. At last year's meeting, the governors and premiers agreed to create an energy plan and delegated this work to the New England States Committee on Electricity, which came up with the idea of ratepayer funding for one gas pipeline and one transmission line from Canada. There is little question that Northeast Utilities will bid in the NESCOE solicitation this summer for ratepayer funding for Northern Pass, which could open the door to eminent domain for the project.
Bretton Woods is also in the White Mountain National Forest, the "People's Forest," which Northeast Utilities and Hydro-Quebec would despoil for private profit.
Governor Hassan has said that she does not support the project as proposed and does not support eminent domain for Northern Pass. She vows to protect New Hampshire's stunning natural resources.
Let's make sure that all the governors (and the Canadian premiers) understand that we, the public, will not accept the loss of our property rights and that we will not accept a for-profit project that would needlessly scar the New Hampshire landscape forever.  
 This is the right time and right place to stand up for New Hampshire!
What to Wear - What to Bring
 Wear ORANGE! Make a sign or bring a lawn sign or banner - with any message you wish to display. Be prepared to be outside rain or shine. Bring whatever you need to be comfortable - lawn chair, water, etc. (We will be guests on private land - no alcoholic beverages, please.)
Where to Assemble
 An Opposition member is allowing us to use private land (a vacant lot) on Rte. 302 just south of the Rte. 3 junction in Twin Mountain (traffic light) as an assembly point. Pull off at the vacant lot for further instructions. An organizer will be on hand there from 2:30 PM on with signs so you can find it easily.
(Do not park on the roadway or block traffic)
Your chance to speak up for what's right for New Hampshire
This Sunday, July 13, 3 PM - 7 PM
No Eminent Domain for Northern Pass!