Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PSNH's Way, NOT the Highway

On October 27, Department of Transportation Commissioner Christopher D. Clement, Sr., addressed the North Country Council annual meeting at Bretton Woods. Commissioner Clement has confirmed the accuracy of the following paraphrase of a statement he made in response to an audience question.

Christopher Clement, the Commissioner of NH DOT, addressed the North Country
Council annual meeting at Bretton Woods on October 27. He was asked about
the possibility of burying utility lines, such as those for the Northern
Pass project, in state-owned transportation corridors. Clement responded
that the DOT has not received a proposal from the utility company.  Upon
receipt of such a proposal, DOT has a process for use of State-owned
right-of-ways, and the DOT is prepared to perform the required analysis for
such a proposal.

In other words, with virtually everyone in New Hampshire calling upon Northern Pass to explore the possibility of using existing highway rights-of-way for an underground transmission line, Northern Pass has not even bothered to talk to DOT about it. Wouldn't you think Northern Pass would have at least put out a feeler by now? No. This is absolutely astounding!

The DOT stands ready to do the required analysis for Northern Pass; indeed, reading between the lines, it sounds as if they are a little surprised that they haven't received an inquiry yet. We're ready to do the analysis, DOT says, but the ball is in Northern Pass's court to initiate the proposal.

But PSNH isn't playing ball. It's so utterly fixated on getting itself bailed out by Hydro Quebec's fees for renting PSNH ROWs that it won't explore any other options. It's "full speed ahead" on building a damaging overhead transmission line and who cares about the public or the state of New Hampshire.

When PSNH finally concedes that there are so many technical and legal roadblocks to constructing 135' towers on its 140 miles of existing ROWs that it's virtually impossible to accomplish, they'll have to come back to the DOT.

In the meanwhile, PSNH holds New Hampshire hostage to its greedy insistence upon renting out its ROWs to a project that would use Civil War era technology regardless of its known highly negative impacts.