Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One More Way That Hydro-Quebec's Northern Pass Project Would Hurt New Hampshire's Economy: Fifth Migration

The "fifth migration" refers to the demographic phenomenon of professionals and retirees who move from urban and suburban areas to rural settings that have outstanding recreational and scenic amenities. Jamie White published the following remarks in NHBR.com.

Northern Pass and the Fifth Migration
Jamie White

The Northern Pass project debate has raged around property rights, land values and the destruction of natural beauty on the one hand and potential construction jobs and tax revenues on the other, with little discussion regarding its long-term economic implications on New Hampshire's small communities.

Tourism, many argue, is all that remains for the North Country with the demise of so many industries. Yet writer Peter Wolf has identified a trend, termed the Fifth Migration, which is transforming small communities across the country through the infusion of wealth and capital, leading to economic revitalization at local levels.

Communities that are deemed the most desirable places to live are experiencing an influx of people providing new economic stimulus through investment, transformation and innovation. Now under way for over two decades, this trend is significantly impacting communities across the country.

There have been four previous major migrations of enormous economic and social impact: the wave of European immigrants and African slaves; the westward expansion; the migration to urban cities resulting from the industrial revolution; and the migration of over 100 million people from the cities to the suburbs.

Today's migration is mainly that of professionals, well educated and well trained. Each year, millions are moving to communities distinguished by natural beauty, abundant recreational opportunities, pristine clean air and water, and relatively few social problems -- factors that define so many of our towns in New Hampshire.

It is estimated that they bring with them, or create, over $150 billion in assets annually to these places. These are people who seek more fulfillment and balance in their lives by embracing the traditions and lifestyles our communities offer. Their desire to integrate into our communities without destroying their fabric and character brings new energy and capital that will revitalize our towns economically.

Today's migration is driven by a desire for a better lifestyle, not economic necessity. Although this evolutionary process will have its challenges in terms of planning and managing growth, it will revitalize so many of our small communities by providing a vast array of economic opportunity.

With new capital comes investment in infrastructure, housing and services. That means more employment for local builders, lenders, architects and service providers. It will lead to better and more diverse retail, restaurants, cultural attractions -- activities that are geared for residents, not just tourists. This is long term, consistent and real.

Seniors, too, place a high value on and want to retire to areas of natural beauty, recreation and cultural diversions. The most economically influential group in world history, the baby boomers, is now entering retirement age. Estimates suggest that this generation will inherit in excess of $10 trillion in financial and real assets now in the hands of their elderly parents, a sum that will provide stimulus nationwide to the communities that attract them, transforming them back into productive, vibrant places to live and work.

This is where our economic future lies, not in projects like Northern Pass, which, by its very design, threatens the possibility of our benefiting from this trend by fouling the natural beauty and introducing real health risks.

Arrogantly, Northern Pass remains intransigent on the only the option that maximizes a cash return to its partner, PSNH - the more costly route through the mountains and private land. Burial along pre-softened, public corridors would achieve its objective of bringing power to its southern clients without jeopardizing our future. Other states are demanding burial, given new technologies that make it competitive from a cost and reliability perspective.

This migration offers our communities a new opportunity for local economic prosperity and security. We need to ensure Northern Pass and the many other projects slated to follow, do not undermine the very assets that are driving them -- abundant natural beauty and recreational opportunities. These are assets that will shape our future just as they've shaped our past. It is essential they are protected.

Jamie White is founder and principal of a Massachusetts firm committed to developing economic sustainability through design as a means of revitalizing small communities.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Another NH Town Says "No Northern Pass" to Quebec and Hydro-Quebec

Starting with Stewartstown, NH towns have begun writing directly to Quebec's Premier Charest and to Hydro-Quebec to reiterate their staunch opposition to Northern Pass.

Town of Stratford's letter to Quebec

From the Town of Stratford
Published in the Colebrook Chronicle, July 13, 2012

Dear Premier Charest,

The Town of Stratford is following in the steps of our neighboring towns. We too write in protest and complaint regarding the local activities of Hydro-Quebec and its partner, Northern Pass Transmission, LLC and its affiliates. Our town is crippled by the physical, social and political ugliness of this project.

The voters of the Town of Stratford have also made it distinctively clear executing our feelings about Northern Pass by voice, video, letters, and so vividly by signs (as seen continuously through US Rte. 3). This project has also made unforgettable history for the past two years at our Annual Town Meetings.

On March 8, 2011, at our Annual Town Meeting, the voters of Stratford voted to register and disseminate to all concerned its objection, opposition, and commitment to stop the construction of any portion of the 1,200 Megawatt High Voltage Direct Current Transmission Line in the Town of Stratford as presently proposed by Northeast Utilities, NStar, and Hydro-Quebec (commonly known as Northern Pass) since such a huge scar constructed and erected through and above the Town’s treasured residential and scenic private properties will cause inestimable damage to the orderly economic development of the Town, its economy, and the health and wellbeing of its residents, or to take any other action relative thereto. Results of vote: 58 yes, 1 no.

On March 13, 2012, at our Annual Town Meeting, the voters of Stratford voted other than high voltage electrical transmission lines in existence as of the effective date of this ordinance, there shall be no further overhead development of alternating current or direct current high voltage transmission lines within the borders of the Town of Stratford without the benefit and approval of the Town. All such future electrical transmission lines must be placed within power line rights of way. Distribution lines carrying electrical power and other utility lines such as telephone and cable television for local residential or commercial use may continue to be installed above ground, but underground of such lines, is strongly recommended and encouraged. Results of vote: 37 yes; 1 no.

There is no green benefit within Stratford for having the utility line—the green value goes only to states south of us who would be serviced by the utility and who “trade” off their negative green points against points they gain through destroying the North Country. With the loss of mills, the timber industry, related businesses, and businesses that relied on mills and timber, the emptying out of the North Country is well under way. Our citizens are making necessary adjustments, we are now relying on tourism and people moving up here to retire. Your plan to carve out a right of way through our scenic vistas may well mean that we lose forever the one thing we still have, our scenic resources so necessary for our tourists and retirees. This project is suffocating the town’s ability to move forward.

We too agree with our united neighbors that this is causing serious damage to our relationship and feelings towards Quebec. The goals and local methods of Quebec’s crown corporation, Hydro-Quebec, are at irreconcilable odds with our local values and our environment. As the board that represents the Town of Stratford’s stress, dissolving this project would be in the best interest for all who are involved.

Stratford Board of Selectmen
Larry W. Ladd, Chairman
W. Timothy Brooks
Robin Kimball Rheaume

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

PSNH -- NU's Cash Cow

Call it cash cow or workhorse, PSNH leads the herd of Northeast Utilities subsidiaries for anticipated rate increases that investors cherish. New Hampshire rate payers are not surprised.

Northeast Utilities 2012 Deutsche Bank Conference, p. 9