Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The "Northern Pass Transmission, LLC Bulletin," Issue 1 (November 29, 2011)

In the spirit of "what's good for the goose is good for the gander," we are posting the first issue of the Northern Pass Transmission LLC Bulletin, a bi-monthly (or more) publication designed to keep you, Northern Pass, up to date on what your proposed project really means to us and to our communities. This inaugural issue of the bulletin will give you a clear sense of how your first newsletter is being received out here in the towns where you would like to construct your steel towers. Pardon the lack of a glossy color format and the postage to mail it. (The Province of Quebec is funding you, not us.) We make no apologies for eschewing euphemisms and other rhetorical figures of speech and grammatical devices that obscure or misstate the facts. Indeed, we'll be calling out some of yours since they are highly offensive to us. This blog will spotlight the top five offenders.

Quoted statements following may be seen here.

  • "Northern Pass Landowner newsletter"
           First and foremost, we are not "Northern Pass Landowners." The phrasing and capitalization of "landowner" arrogantly turns us into a formal proper noun, a class of people on whom Northern Pass has some claim. We do own land in NH; it has an easement deeded to PSNH on it or condemned and seized by eminent domain. We reject your implication that Northern Pass has any claim whatsoever on us or on our land or that we acquiesce to either. You are using a dishonest term that attempts to send a subliminal message that we and our land (easements) are the chattel of Northern Pass. We demand that you cease using the phrase immediately. Your publication is a newsletter to NH landowners with existing PSNH rights-of-way. That's all. We consider that it has the same relationship to us that unsolicited junk mail does.

  • "Your Landowner Outreach Specialist"
          Jen Berry, Tom True, and Jim Wagner may think of us as "theirs," but we assure that we do not think of them as "ours." Far from it. Again, we reject your arrogant implication that Northern Pass has some claim on us or some personal relationship to us. We demand that you cease using all personal pronouns that imply possession or association. Northern Pass has no right to presume any connection to us. Call them "landowner outreach specialists" if you wish and risk the well-known parody ("landgrabber specialists"), but we are not "theirs" and they are not "ours." We know that you put them out front to draw off our ire and protect the corporate higher ups from the inconvenience of having to deal with the opposition. Some of us feel sorry that people have to take jobs like this, while others would flip burgers before they would do this kind of work, but do not presume that your "specialists" will make us friendly to your project. (What, by the way, makes them "specialists"? What qualifications do they have for trying to talk us into giving you more land?)

  • "What are people in your communities saying? Visit Mynewhampshire.com to find out." 
          No one from my community agreed to promote Northern Pass on your ersatz grassroots website. People in my community voted unanimously last March to oppose Northern Pass as a disaster for our town. "People in your communities" dishonestly implies widespread acceptance throughout NH. Is anyone on your site from north of Franklin? Either provide the evidence or state the facts: "What are twelve people, at least one of whom works as a subcontractor for PSNH, in a few New Hampshire communities saying?" No one in your newsletter audience would fall for this site anyway. It has earned the name "mynorthernpass.com."

  • "An easement is a permanent property right that you, or a previous owner of your property, granted to a utility company."
          No, more misspeak. An easement is a property right that a utility company acquired either by the landowner's voluntary grant or by the utility company's petition, in NH, to the Public Utilities Commission to condemn and take the land. We demand an accurate definition of easement. Words really matter here.

  • "Typically, an easement deed grants PSNH the right to construct, operate, and maintain lines for the transmission of electric power, and as the owner of those rights, PSNH may transfer or allow the exercise of those rights by others for the same use or purpose."
         This is so vaguely worded and badly written as to be nonsense at best, deliberate duplicity at worst. PSNH easements were granted or taken for projects deemed essential to keep the lights on and for the public benefit. Are you implying that Northern Pass is one of those "others" to whom PSNH may transfer or allow rights? In other words, it too is a reliability rather than optional, elective project? It too has been judged to be to the "public benefit"? If so, the PUC, Consumer Advocate, and Attorney General would want to know. If not, acknowledge honestly that Northern Pass has neither a current nor automatic right to use PSNH easements.  Words really do matter.

We hope this helps you, Northern Pass, get an initial sense of the response to your newsletter to land owners with existing PSNH easements.

One final matter: please provide instructions for landowners with existing PSNH easements and others to "unsubscribe" from your newsletter. It's a waste of paper and a most unwelcome intrusion, not to mention that you mailed it to some on the day before Thanksgiving.