Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sign Gallery (31-40): Snodeo Weekend

The Opposition table and signs in and around Snodeo March 5-6, 2011.

31. Protest area outside Coleman State Park

32. Opposition trio in protest area on Diamond Pond Road into Snodeo

33.Sign series lining road into Snodeo

34. Linda Samson sign in protest area (her original of this sign is located on Rte 116, Easton)

35. Sign by Russ and Kathy Johnson (Columbia) temporarily located on Diamond Pond Road for Snodeo

36. Jack Savage (left), SPNHF, at Opposition table, Snodeo

37. Julie Moran, left, Mark M? (orange hat) at Opposition table, Snodeo

38. Rick Johnson, center front, at Opposition table, Snodeo

39. Roland Cotnoire, Rte. 26, Colebrook

40. Mulie Moran, Rte. 26, Colebrook

Town Hall Talk

Over the next few days as town meetings approach, this resource post will be updated. Please bookmark and check back. Each town is different, but if you have facts and figures about your town to share, please submit them to burynorthernpass<at>

  • Property taxes. In Atlanta in March 2010, to an audience of energy industrialists, PSNH was forthright about the difficulties of "selling" Northern Pass back in New Hampshire. PSNH economic and community development director Patrick McDermott stated outright that property tax benefits to towns other than Franklin would not amount to much. McDermott considered this a "negative":  “The negatives are that this project will not generate a lot of property taxes. Most of that will come from the converter station, which is a $200-million-plus investment.” (Read the other "negatives" here.)

  • Electric bills. Using Northern Pass's own New England electric wholesale price projections for 2015 and NP's aggressive assumptions of 100% pass-through of wholesale price reductions to retail customers, the upper end of the savings range for New Hampshire families is only 97 cents a month or only 1% of the average 2009 $96.66 monthly electric bill. It is highly unlikely that NP would pass on 100% of wholesale price reductions; the actual savings are likely to be 0 to 97 cents per month. (15-page calculation and supporting documents available upon request.)

  • Real estate values. According to the preliminary results of one professional "before and after" appraisal of a representative 12-acre parcel of high-quality view land in Dalton NH that would be bisected by a new right-of-way for the Northern Pass transmission lines, the project would have a very large impact on market value, reducing market value by 50%-83+%. Another realtor with 35 years of experience in northern New Hampshire believes the market value is likely to be reduced 100%, i.e., the parcel would be unmarketable. Sales have already fallen through because of the mere threat of the HVDC line. Sellers must disclose their proximity to the preferred and alternate routes.

  • Taxes "in lieu." The taxes on the proposed new power lines will be “Taxes in Lieu,” which exempts N-star and H-Q from paying the largest portion of NH’s property taxes that supports education. The remaining smaller portion they will pay to the cities and towns of NH will be reduced over time as a result of the depreciated value of the towers and transmission lines.

  • One town's "profit." On the approximately 7-8 miles of PSNH HVAC lines running through Sugar Hill on the existing right-of-way, the town collected $16,000 in 2010. A new HVDC line might generate more revenue provided the town were willing to pay for the appraisal, but depreciation would quickly reduce this benefit. Easton's figure is apparently much lower, $2,000.

  • Property tax abatements. Municipal requests for property tax abatements from owners affected by the mere threat of Northern Pass transmission lines were due on March 1. No figures are available yet on the number and amount of abatements requested. If abatements are granted, the effect will be to raise property taxes for other owners in town.

  • Federal Housing Administration mortgages. FHA rules prohibit the issuance of insured loans for homes located adjacent to high voltage transmission power lines. (See Section J.)

  • Cost of alternatives to Northern Pass's above-ground transmission lines, such as burying the lines. Modest changes to the financing structure of the Northern Pass project can maintain a high level of profitability for the sponsors and at the same time potentially free up substantial capital (in the range of $600-$900 million) for investment in less impactful alternatives such as burying the lines. Alternatives are not "too expensive." (20-page calculation and supporting documents available upon request.)

  • Fact check for the economic analysis in the most recent Northern Pass mailer. Read the small print. Look on the back of the page, "Sources and Notes," and you will see the disclaimer: "Any potential reductions or increases in other property values as a result of the addition of NPT are not covered in this report." You should also be aware that the "analysis" has been prepared by Dr. Lisa Shapiro, who is the "Chief Economist" for Gallagher, Callahan and Gartrell, the Concord Law Firm representing the Northern Pass in its proceedings with the State of New Hampshire. This is not an independent analysis. At the HB302 hearing several weeks ago, Rep, Garrity asked Dr. Shapiro if her analysis took offsets and reductions into account, and she replied that it did not.