Wednesday, December 22, 2010

There They Go Again: Green Renewables!

It started at least as early as October when City Manager Elizabeth Dragon announced that the Northern Pass project would not only bring a $250M converter station to Franklin but "green energy to the region." As recently as December 20th, PSNH's Gary Long repeated the same claim in a Concord Monitor interview: "We're not looking for major new sources to meet the power needs; we're looking for major new sources to meet the 'green power' needs."

Well, PSNH hasn't found them yet.

Make no mistake about it. The "major new source" that PSNH would tap for the Northern Pass project is big hydro from Hydro-Quebec, and it's not green. As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines it, "green power is electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources." Big hydro is excluded because of the devastating effects of its dams and reservoirs on fish and "land use" (translation for H-Q, First Nations tribes being flooded out of their homelands); and big hydro also produces methane gas at high levels that may contribute more to global warming than carbon dioxide does.

The second claim that PSNH constantly makes about its big brown-not-green hydro source is that it's "renewable," able to be replenished in relatively short time, but then they simultaneously undercut the claim by noting that H-Q hydro does not qualify as renewable in New Hampshire. As we have said before, we leave it to PSNH to resolve the conflict. In any event, even as a renewable, the EPA notes, big hydro dams and reservoirs have negative impacts.

So we're down to the third claim that PSNH repeatedly makes about its brown-not-green, renewable-but-not-renewable-and-in-any-case-environmentally-harmful proposed new energy source: it's "low carbon." Doesn't New Hampshire have native sources of low carbon energy that would not require the devastating effects on land and people that 140 miles of high voltage lines strung on massive towers through the center of New Hampshire's pristine back country will?

Not the least of those effects will impact all the people of New Hampshire: tourist revenues, meals and rooms tax, will drop. Who wants to come up north and look at miles and miles of high tension wires and gigantic steel towers? There's a quip north of the Notch that the Old Man didn't fall off the Mountain, he jumped. Was he clairvoyant? Did he see Northern Pass coming?

Bury the Northern Pass is a group of concerned citizens in Grafton County; we work in coordination with our neighbors to the north in Coos County. To join the email list, write to