Sunday, January 23, 2011

Northern Pass's Monthly Allowance for December 2010: $1,093,080.00

A look at how much Hydro-Quebec is spending on developing the Northern Pass project right now.

How much did you earn last month? Never mind, you'd probably rather not think about it these days. Per capita monthly income in Coos County in 1999, the latest U.S. census data available, was $1,435. Median monthly household income in Coos in 2008 was $3,566, under $900 per week.

How much did the Northern Pass spend on development in December 2010 alone? $1,093,080. Over a million dollars in a single month! $200,000 went for legal; $72,000 for environmental; $465,00 for routing analysis and preliminary engineering; $50,000 for real estate services; $25,000 for corporate communications and community outreach; $62,200 for miscellaneous; $224,100 for NPT labor.

The PSNH folks running all over the North Country holding meetings in December to inform us about the power line were probably billed under "NPT labor."  The people knocking on our doors wanting us to sign ROE agreements were "real estate services." The new "community relations specialist" was actually a "real estate service," but he was probably billed under NPT labor too.What were those Northern Pass lawyers doing to bill $10,000 a day in December? I wonder how much the Northern Pass blogger earned last month.

Northern Pass's December 2010 development spending is just the tip of the iceberg. Between January 2009 and March 2011, development costs will total $16M. And that's a tiny fraction of the overall cost of the project, $1.2B.

Who's really footing the bill for all this spending to push an HVDC power line through New Hampshire? Hydro-Quebec, ultimately, the province of Quebec. PSNH is merely the face of the project we meet in our town hall meetings and at our front doors; Hydro-Quebec silently bankrolls it. Buried in the middle of the massive Transmission Service Agreement (TSA) that Northern Pass has publicly filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (FERC) is the agreement letter that spells it out.

So, while your household was struggling to get by on under $900 per week (2008 Coos median), Northern Pass was allowed to spend $273,000 a week in December. Apples and oranges? Yes. But have no doubt that the more Northern Pass gets to spend on developing the power line project, the greater the danger that your household in northern New Hampshire will have to get along on even less in the future. To quote Deb Reynolds, District 2 state Senator 2006-2010, "the Hydro Quebec/Northern Pass project will ultimately serve to drive the nail in the coffin of what is left of the economy of the North Country."

A company with the vast financial resources of Hydro-Quebec has the money to bury the line if it wants to ship its power down to the greater Boston area through New Hampshire. Could it be any clearer? New York State figured it out. New Hampshire has too.

Bury the Northern Pass, a group of concerned citizens in Grafton County, belongs to the No Northern Pass Coalition. To join the email list, write to