Saturday, December 28, 2013

NESCOE on Northern Pass

The New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) advises the New England Governors on energy policies. On September 9, 2013, NESCOE published a whitepaper on Canadian hydropower imports.*

Incremental Hydro Power Imports Whitepaper (Fall 2013)
Excerpt on Northern Pass

New Hampshire public officials note that the Northern Pass proposal faces significant hurdles to  its implementation in its current form. Organized grass-roots opposition by citizens, advocacy groups and state and local elected officials, has led to apparent bipartisan opposition to the project in the New Hampshire Legislature. As of August 2013, proposed bills designed to modify the features of (or prevent the building of) Northern Pass have been introduced in the New Hampshire Legislature. If these efforts are not successful, litigation against the project is likely to follow. Objections against the project center around the potential visual impact of transmission towers on scenic areas of northern New Hampshire, the associated impacts on property values and tourism in the communities along the proposed route, and the belief that the power provided is not needed by New Hampshire, and would be sent to southern New England. (p. 32 n51)
*The link to this study is posted on NESCOE's home page.

Friday, December 27, 2013

"Northern Pass: No Exchange, No Returns"

Guest commentary by Nancy Martland, Sugar Hill, published by the Laconia Citizen, 12/27/2013, and republished here with permission.
Northern Pass: No Exchange, No Returns
By Nancy Martland
It’s happened to all of us.  You’re given a beautiful package wrapped in shiny paper with pretty ribbons that you just can’t wait to open. Inside you find a tangerine and purple sweater with a lime green teddy bear appliqué in a size you haven’t worn for at least 20 years.  After a moment of stunned silence, you automatically thank the giver -- it’s the thought that counts, right? Yet, all the good intentions in the world cannot change the fact that this gift is not right for you.
It is for this reason that the customer service window was invented by stores that value customer satisfaction and loyalty.  There you can exchange that tangerine job for a nice black wool crew neck that fits and you feel comfortable wearing.
About three years ago, New Hampshire received a package from Northeast Utilities, called the Northern Pass.  It was wrapped in pretty paper, and presented to us with a flourish as the best deal we were ever going to see.  Once we had it open though, we realized that it didn’t fit, and we didn’t much like it. The shiny wrappings covered unappealing features that made us decide we had to return the package.
Only Northern Pass didn’t have a customer service window. They insisted that we keep it whether we liked it or not.  It seemed Northern Pass has a “no returns, no exchange” policy, and New Hampshire is pretty much stuck with whatever white elephant “gift” they want to give us.
What was concealed beneath that shiny paper?
Massive towers through 187 miles of New Hampshire’s signature landscape, our mountains and valleys, our towns and neighborhoods. And just to be clear, we are not talking about a few telephone poles. We are talking about more than 1500 metal lattice towers. With a 30 X 30’ footprint including poured concrete footings, they range from 90 to 135+ feet in height, reaching far above our tallest trees to dominate the landscape. Northern Pass reassuringly told us we would “get used to” these monsters.  Kind of like the returns clerk telling you, “Oh, we can’t exchange that. You’ll get used to that lime green teddy on your tangerine and orange sweater.”
In the end, we simply couldn’t keep the package.  We found out about an alternative.  We learned that technology exists to place the lines underground.  NP’s partner, Hydro-Quebec, markets this technology as a cost-efficient low-impact alternative to overhead lines.  Yet, Northern Pass insists that burying is too expensive and too impractical. Many disagree with them on this point.
Contrary to Northern Pass claims, this technology,  HVDC Light, is practical and reasonably priced.  Other energy developers understand this and realize that the public does not object to invisible, secure buried transmission lines.  Projects transmitting Canadian power south through Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania and Maine will use this technology, and are facing little if any public outcry as they navigate the permitting process.  These projects use already softened corridors, such as highways or railroad beds; some lines go underwater.  Often there is payment to the state which owns such corridors. In addition to their low impact, underground lines are far less susceptible to weather damage, have fewer faults, and when sited along highways they are easier to get to than aerial lines strung through remote areas.  Odds are that these forward-looking underground projects will be in full service while Northern Pass is still tangled in permitting and legal battles that will likely prevent the project from ever being built in its present design.
Curiously, Northern Pass remains unmoved by the sustained objection to this project – not just from individuals whose land is directly affected, but from whole towns that voted to oppose it, 33 of them.  They took no notice when Governor Maggie Hassan and Senator Kelly Ayotte told them they ought to put it underground. They did not heed objections from every North Country Chamber of Commerce or all of New Hampshire’s environmental groups. With breathtaking arrogance and utter lack of regard for our iconic landscape and the project’s crippling damage to everyday people, Northern Pass simply plows on, running expensive ads that highlight the shiny paper and pretty ribbons, paying high-priced lobbyists to influence legislators, and acting as if the objections didn’t exist.
If Northern Pass ever expects to run even one foot of high voltage cable through our state, they will need a customer service window, equipped with 187 miles of HVDC Light underground cable for New Hampshire customers who demand to exchange this unwanted gift for a solution that respects our state and its citizens.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Some Recent Scoping Comments on Northern Pass's Amended Presidential Permit Application, Sept.- Nov. 2013


Click on the name of the group to see the full text.

Concerns include underground and other alternatives; purpose and need; greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts of power sources; visual impacts; impacts on conservation land and WMNF; procedural fairness and impartiality.

" . . . the wild brook trout prevalent in most all northern New Hampshire tributary streams  . . . stand to be adversely affected during project construction."

"We feel the disturbance from this project, as proposed, threatens the values and characteristics for which the river was designated."

Concerns include procedural fairness and impartiality; purpose and need defined too narrowly to the unfair benefit of applicant; lack of alternative routes, sites, designs and analysis of their impacts. Calls for comprehensive analysis of impacts of generation and transmission in Canada and environmental (including visual) impacts in U.S. AMC renews its request for post-scoping pre-draft EIS to be circulated.

Determine whether Northern Pass as an optional private project meets "overriding public need" standard required to cross the Appalachian Trail in the WMNF.

Concerns include negative visual, environmental, and economic impacts; property values.

Application deficiencies include confusing presentation of data; insufficient data; potential visual impacts under reported; unknown impacts on drinking water.

Connecticut River Watershed Council  (9/26/2013)

Shortcomings of National Wetland Inventory require applicant to collect on the ground data and make it available to the public. The project must meet highest environmental standards during construction and ongoing maintenance. 

Conservation Law Foundation  (11/5/2013)

Alternatives, including non-transmission, burial, and routes in other states, must be considered. More rigorous analysis of GHG emissions of hydro dams is necessary.Mistaken approaches used for EIS of Champlain Hudson project must not be repeated for Northern Pass. Assess environmental impacts in Canada in light of Northern Pass's claims. Ongoing procedural deficiencies and renewed call for changes in DOE NEPA process. 

The town and BOS "formally oppose the Northern Pass project as proposed." The BOS also officially  opposes any new development of AC or DC overhead high voltage transmission lines within its borders.

(Town of) Easton NH Conservation Commission  (11/4/2013)

Recommendation to Forest Supervisor Wagner: remove existing PSNH line from the WMNF and bury it with Northern Pass line along I-93. 

Environmental Protection Agency (10/24/2013)

"The EIS should . . . examine whether there are reasonable opportunities for additional transmission line burial . . ."

Hydro Quebec power is not "green"; habitat fragmentation; vegetative understory changes. 

(Town of) Holderness NH Select Board (9/24/2013)

"The project is all cost and few if any savings."

"We are concerned that the project will increase the risk of loon power line collisions. Loons are particularly vulnerable to these collisions because they are large, heavy-bodied birds and maneuver poorly in flight.. . [L]oons, with vision adapted for underwater foraging, may have trouble seeing and avoiding power lines. In fact, in 2008, New Hampshire Fish and Game staff recovered a banded loon after it collided with a power line in Stewartstown, causing a local power outage."

Concerns: "potential physical, visual, and audible impacts" on the AT.

"The National Trust is deeply concerned about the potential adverse effects of this massive . . . project on the historic and cultural resources of New Hampshire." Procedural irregularities.

Northern Pass misrepresents the likely energy market and environmental impact of the project (CO2 reduction; reduction of dependence on natural gas use) and the project's role in addressing New England's reliability concerns. Northern Pass fails to discuss reliability threats posed by its project. Northern Pass misrepresents its ability to gain site control over its proposed route and the likely employment prospects of its project.

New Hampshire Audubon (9/23/2013)

"Given the high concentration of migrating passerines, the overlap of flight elevations with proposed tower heights, and the location of this area within the White Mountain National Forest, we strongly urge that the Northern Pass EIS include studies of migration patterns over the proposed corridor at key locations, designed in consultation with experienced migration specialists. Potential locations might include the western slope of Kinsman Mountain and the Pemigewasset River valley, where migration tracks and the proposed route are likely to intersect, and possibly the Bog Pond basin, where extensive wetlands may provide an important stopover area in this mountainous landscape."

"Our request [to be joined as an interested stakeholder] has never been acknowledged." Desktop GIS data not an adequate method to locate resources.

Comprehensive inventory of historic resources needed; setting and surrounding landscapes must be considered; consider all alternatives, including burial and no build; consider economic impacts on tourism.

 Peabody Smith Realty Inc (9/20/2013)
Attachment  (9/16/2013)

The Northern Pass project has already had a chilling effect on hundreds if not thousands of properties and is putting homeowners in a perilous position if they must sell.

Peter W. Powell Real Estate (11/4/2013)

Industry studies showing no property devaluation from power lines do not replicate conditions in New Hampshire. 

"Nothing could be more foreign to our community and to our way of life" than Northern Pass.

" . . . the U. S. Forest Service must refrain from allowing any special exemptions from the generally applicable laws to allow Northern Pass to proceed"  across the WMNF.

RESTORE strongly opposes Northern Pass because 1) Hydro Quebec dams damage habitat and drive out native people; 2) Northern Pass would cut through and fragment two roadless areas, WMNF's Kinsman Mountain - Gordon Pond and Kilkenny.

Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (11/5/2013)

Forest Society requests that the DOE suspend the EIS because of Northern Pass's proposed illegal route.

(Town of) Stewartstown Selectboard  (11/5/2013)

" . . . deny the request for the entire application for the Presidential Permit."

Concerns include scenic areas and viewsheds; property values and loss of tax revenue; recreation land.

The Nature Conservancy (11/5/2013)

Environmental impacts. Northern Pass's proposed new right of way "will result in the fragmentation of three intact forest blocks . . . Unfragmented forest blocks are considered to be very important features on the natural landscape . . ."

Bury the entire line through Whitefield. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What is Northern Pass afraid of?

The Littleton Courier
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 



“It’s my venue and I’ll bounce if I want to...” 

Northern Pass held its last “Open House” this past Wednesday in Sugar Hill. After attendees had spoken with representatives for an hour, a resident, who is also the chair of the Sugar Hill Selectboard, requested an open question and answer format so everyone could hear the questions asked by residents and the responses given by Northern Pass representatives. This request was a direct response to the frustration many attendees had felt at the isolating format of the “one-on-one” conversations they had encountered at other “Open Houses”. 

 I was quite taken aback by the level of anger this request elicited in many of the representatives. They found the dignified demand that they engage in real dialogue an offense. They seemed to feel that the opposition to their project and demand for honest dialogue were acts of aggression toward them and apparently completely missed the massive aggression and threat of the project itself. 

The Northern Pass project representatives refused to engage in an open discussion. The majority of attendees did the sensible thing and left the room. Northern Pass’s Project blog entry about the meeting stated that no individuals were asked to leave. That’s untrue. One local resident was forcibly removed by local police; the third person evicted by police from a Northern Pass “Open House”. Many others have been turned away from “Open House” doors for simply indicating opposition to the project. 

What is Northern Pass afraid of? 

Kris Pastoriza 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

New Hampshire Shows Up, Speaks Out at DOE Hearings

Tentative Tally of Attendance and Comments at DOE Hearings on Northern Pass*

September 23-27, 2013

Concord, September 23

Attendance: 600

Comments in favor of Northern Pass: 21
Comments opposed to Northern Pass: 44

Plymouth, September 24

Attendance: 675

Comments in favor of Northern Pass: 8
Comments opposed to Northern Pass: 48

Whitefield, September 25

Attendance: 350

Comments in favor of Northern Pass: 3
Comments opposed to Northern Pass: 55

Colebrook, September 26

Attendance: 275

Comments in favor of Northern Pass: 2
Comments opposed to Northern Pass: 37

Total attendance: 1900

Total comments: 218

Total comments in favor of Northern Pass: 34

Total comments opposed to Northern Pass: 184


Percent of total comments in favor of Northern Pass: 15%

Percent of total comments opposed to Northern Pass: 85%


*Counts will be adjusted, if necessary, when the DOE publishes a written transcript of the hearings.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Northern Pass wants questions? Here are questions.

Northern Pass wants questions:
(Northern Pass ad, Colebrook Chronicle, Aug. 2, 2013)

Here are questions:
(Forest Society ad, Colebrook Chronicle, Aug. 2, 2013)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Northeast Utilities investor call Q2 2013

Excerpts on Northern Pass from Northeast Utilities investor conference, July 30, 2013. Full transcript is at

"And we are doing this as really kind of good citizens, good stewards of the state . . . as we always have and everything PSNH has ever done inside of New Hampshire."--Thomas J. May, CEO & Pres.

NU’s Q2 investor call – July 30, 2013

Northern Pass excerpts

Leon J. Olivier - Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

As most of you know, we had some very important news on June 27. We announced a new route for the northernmost 40-mile section of our Northern Pass transmission project. We had been working on a new route for more than 2 years and we were thrilled to be able to announce it in New Hampshire 5 weeks ago. The Northern Pass team did a tremendous job putting together a proposal that accommodates the concerns of many in the state's north country, while also delivering very significant economic and environmental benefits that are core to this innovative project.

This northernmost section of the new route has about 32 miles of overhead line on new rights of way that we either own or have under lease and approximately 8 miles of underground. As result of the underground work and other changes to the structure configuration, we have raised the project's cost estimate to $1.4 billion. The new preferred route addresses many of the concerns that have been raised about the project. The 2 underground sections, lower structures and heights and a route that takes the project well to the East of our earlier route. We have significantly reduced the project potential visual impact.

Additionally, the number of properties that would have overhead lines has been reduced to 31 from 186. Areas with new overhead lines are now located in generally more remote terrain and use natural topography to help with visual screening. On July 1, we filed an amended application with the U.S. Department of Energy and there is now a link to that filing on the Northern Pass website. We expect the DOE to hold scoping meetings this fall. These scoping meetings will offer the public the opportunity to comment on the project and will be an addition to our own open house forums. Our open houses begin next week in the northernmost area of the project and eventually, will cover towns all along the route.

The public will be able to meet face-to-face with project representatives and view maps and other information specific to their community. The DOE will now continue to work on the draft environmental impact statement for the project. As soon as that draft is complete, we will use it as part of our siting application with the New Hampshire site evaluation committee. Once we file that application, the site evaluation committee will review and adjudicate it. Our plan has both the state and federal permitting processes complete by mid-2015.

On that schedule, we expect to bring the project into service around mid-2017. The benefits of the Northern Pass and this 1,200 megawatts of firm capacity remain extraordinarily persuasive. We expect the project will lower New England energy cost by $200 million to $300 million annually, between $20 million and $35 million, of which will directly accrue to New Hampshire customers. Because Hydro-Québec is almost exclusively a hydroelectric system, it is expected to reduce the region's carbon dioxide emissions by up to 5 million tonnes per year. We expect the project will increase property tax revenue in New Hampshire, in the project host communities, by about $28 million per year.

Effective Thursday, August 1, Gary Long will move from his long time position as President of PSNH, to work fulltime on the Northern Pass and other New Hampshire renewable energy initiatives. Larry* has done an excellent job over the past 13 years leading PSNH through industry restructuring and through some major initiatives such as the innovative conversion of our Shiloh 5 [ph] unit from a coal boiler to a renewable biomass generator. As one of the most respected business leaders in New Hampshire, Gary will play a key role in ensuring that the benefits of the Northern Pass project are delivered to New Hampshire residents.
. . . . . . . . . . . .

Kit Konolige - BGC Partners, Inc., Research Division

Okay, very good. And a question for Lee. Lee, is there any public feedback in the newspapers, politicians comments, et cetera, on the new route for Northern Pass?

Leon J. Olivier - Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

Yes, I would say, Kit, by and large, it has been very positive. I think the fact that seeing essentially 8 miles of underground -- particularly 8 miles of underground around very sensitive areas, environmentally sensitive areas, has all been very positive. I think that the real sense is that this company essentially took a hiatus of 2 years to come up with a route that is more sensitive to the environment, to the folks that live along the route, to the citizens of New Hampshire and that's being paid a lot of very positive compliments. We received a number of editorials in newspapers that's in support of the project, particularly because as folks look around to New England energy capacity situation and see anywhere from late 9,000 of old retired plants or plants that will have to retire rather, and they have, in many cases, questionable reliability. They know there's a need for this. This is clearly the best project for the region or they will be the best project for the region in the next 50 or 60 years in terms of its firm power, clean power and reliable power. So we see a building consensus in the polls that were taken, we see a rise in support for the project.

Andrew M. Weisel - Macquarie Research 

I wanted to start with a couple of questions for Lee on Northern Pass, specifically around the timing of approvals. I believe you said you're excepting processes to be done by mid '15, which is about 24 months from now. If we work backwards a little bit, the New Hampshire State Evalution Committee takes about 8 months. And before that, you'll need to get the draft approval from the DOE. If the DOE scoping meetings don't start until this fall, that only leaves about a year maybe, even less, for the DOE draft decision. Does that seem realistic to you? How confident are you in that mid '15 timing to end the approval process?

Leon J. Olivier - Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

Yes, I mean at this point in time, based on everything we know, we're still confident. So if you think about the scoping meetings, the scoping meetings are really all about the DOE coming into the impacted communities, and it will probably be a kind of a northern part of the state midsection towards the southern part of the state to probably be -- whatever, 4, 5 meetings. And it's really the opportunity for the DOE to hear from the people in those communities, to take their input into the overall impact of the line, but the real hard work is really all done around through in the environmental assessment. These are essentially environmental scientist who are out in the field taking samples and so forth. So you get the feedback, you get all the environmental samples, the data, you do the analysis, you factor in the comments of the public, and the DOE makes the decision. So right now, I would say, we think that, that is still a realistic timeframe.

Andrew M. Weisel - Macquarie Research

Okay. Now the community outreach you've done in the past few months and the open houses you will be doing in the coming months, will that in any way, help speed along the DOE approval? Or the site evaluation committee? Or is that independent, just trying to gain support and the best approach for you guys to take.

Thomas J. May - Chief Executive Officer, President, Trustee and Member of Executive Committee

Yes, they're really quite independent, the DOE is, by their nature, completely independent, and will conduct its own analysis and studies in accordance with their procedures and requirements. And we are doing this as really kind of good citizens, good stewards of the state, of the committee, as we always have and everything PSNH has ever done inside of New Hampshire. So this is really all about creating better understanding in the communities of the value of the project, the impact of the project. We will have topical overviews or what it would look like if the lines run through a particular area, we'll be able to see that using kind of a GIS or global information systems, super imposed transmission lines on that. So this is really about learning more about the project and building a greater trust level to the public.

Andrew M. Weisel - Macquarie Research

Great. Next question is on, the cost of the project went up from $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion, and now $1.4 billion. Given your agreement with Hydro-Québec, how does that affect the earned ROE? And what you'll be collecting from HQ? Is there any upside to your earnings or downside to your ROE because of these higher costs related to undergrounding the line?

Jay S. Buth - Chief Accounting Officer, Vice President and Controller

Well, in regards to the ROE, the ROE level is set by contract, so there's no change to the ROE, particularly during the construction of the project after the project is complete and in service, the ROE would flow off of the base ROE of the region by a band [ph] of I think it's 140 basis points, 142 basis points. Now to the extent that the project costs $200 million more, the equity base has now gone from essentially $600 million to $700 million, so you're earning 12.56 on a higher equity base, so that would definitely be more earnings for the company. Then you would look up the increase in that capital to $200 million spaced over 3 years, a $25 million pick up in 2015, $100 million pick up in 2016 and a $75 million pick up in 2017.

Paul Patterson - Glenrock Associates LLC

Okay. And then also [indiscernible]**, that editorial about that specific piece of land and everything, we've -- you know what I'm talking up, with research in Northern Pass, does this alternative proposal that you have, do you think that deals with that and that specific sort of crucial area.

Leon J. Olivier - Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

Yes, Paul, this is Lee. Yes it does, actually. The original proposal we had was essentially going under about 100 feet or so, 115 feet of that land underground. So you -- visibly, you would see nothing on the land that is in conservation. But this new route doesn't go near there, it goes underground. It goes away from it. So this resolves their issue that they had in the editorial.



**Shaheen - Gregg editorial


Welcome to the White Mountains! Northern Pass's Five Proposed Crossings of I-93

" . . .as part of ongoing efforts to refine and improve the project, a revised design reduces structure heights from a maximum structure height of 135 feet* to a most common height of between 85 to 95 feet in the White Mountain National Forest, as well as elsewhere along the direct current portion of the line that runs from the Canadian border to Franklin" (Northern Pass press release, June 27, 2013, emphases added).

 "Elsewhere" does not include the five crossings of I-93, the major tourist route to the Lakes Region, Franconia Notch, the White Mountain National Forest, and the Great North Woods.

The most common height and the median height of Northern Pass's proposed structures that cross I-93 is 105' with a minimum of 80' and a maximum of 130'. The average height of structures on the I-93 crossings is 112'

Crossing the most traveled tourist route in New Hampshire, the proposed Northern Pass towers would be at their tallest and cause adverse visual effects on myriad tourists traveling north to escape industrialized landscapes. Acquired between the 1920's - 1940's, the original PSNH easement would never have been sited where it is had I-93 existed. 

The Department of Energy has already rejected the PSNH easement for major overhead HVDC projects  because of the unacceptably high negative visual, socioeconomic and other impacts in the I-93 corridor. The first rejection was in 1980, the second in 1986. The situation has not improved; indeed, the easement is more crowded with power lines now than it was twenty years ago.

 For maps and diagrams of Northern Pass towers proposed for the five crossings, follow the links for each town, south to north, on I-93. These visualizations do not consider towers alongside I-93. Those will come at a later date. 

Enter your scoping comment about Northern Pass's visual impact at 


 *The currently proposed preliminary maximum tower height is 155' (Allenstown).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Off the beaten path: PSNH infomercial lunches for state legislators

On its own letterhead (following), PSNH is inviting some NH state legislators to Northern Pass "infomercial" lunches at seven different venues in August and September. With the exception of a convenient Concord location next to the Capitol, none of the venues is on or near the proposed 187-mile Northern Pass route. Who's picking up the tab for wining and dining legislators at the Portsmouth Sheraton, Lake Opechee Inn & Spa, Nashua Crowne Plaza, and other upscale facilities? PSNH ratepayers? This follows upon the recent mass mailing of "We've listened" pamphlets promoting Northern Pass to every single consumer of electricity in the state (at a cost that PSNH will not disclose). Are PSNH ratepayers picking up that tab too? Think this is all too much? Tell your legislator. And, if your legislator received the invitation to lunch, please tell him or her what questions you want Northern Pass to answer. The first one might be, who is paying for my meal?

(No "Open Houses" for residents and landowners have yet been scheduled in towns along the existing PSNH right-of-way that Northern Pass claims it can use.What will PSNH serve at the "Open Houses" for the actual NH citizens who will be economically impacted by the proposed overhead project? )

Friday, June 14, 2013

"Towering Trees, not Transmission Towers": Northern Pass Info & Planning Meeting (Easton, June 9, 2013)

A standing-room-only crowd of 130 people attended the meeting in Easton on June 9th. Following is a local news report, links to materials presented and referred to during the session, and links to recordings of the meeting. 

Littleton Courier
June 12, 2013 

Northern Pass opponents strategize again in Easton

by Darin Wipperman

EASTON — With 130 people on hand, opponents of Northern Pass met for nearly three hours on Sunday afternoon. The session was a chance to look back and ahead on the effort to defeat the high voltage power line project.

Northern Pass proposes building 180 miles of tall power lines from northern Coös County to Deerfield, N.H. The electricity would come from Hydro Quebec. Northeast Utilities, the parent of Public Service of New Hampshire, has partnered with Hydro Quebec on the venture.

Elective officials accounted for ten percent of Sunday's attendees. They included Executive Councilor Ray Burton, state senators Jeff Woodburn and Jeanie Forrester, several state house members, and other office holders. Overall, those at the meeting came from towns between Pittsburg to Portsmouth.

The group celebrated a victory hot off the press. That day, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and former Senator Judd Gregg had a letter in the Concord Monitor. The two former governors expressed their interest in protecting the Connecticut Lakes headwaters region.

Shaheen and Gregg suggest that Northern Pass may be looking to cross the headwaters, which would implicate a state easement. "In addition to their beauty," the duo wrote, "these lands are the backbone of our northern economy, offering working forests that have supported New Hampshire families for generations."

The headwaters easement includes 146,000 acres in Pittsburg, Stewartstown, and Clarksville. Shaheen and Gregg call the headwaters, "the largest un-fragmented block of land in the state." The senators said there exists "an obligation by the state to defend the easement from encroachment."

Northern Pass has not suggested the headwaters region would be part of any future route.

Will Abbott of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests provided further information on the headwaters region. He said the state has a strong legal argument to prohibit Northern Pass from crossing the easement area.

Abbott also noted a Yankee Magazine article about landowners who have rejected selling land to Northern Pass. He then held up a bumper sticker that was appreciated by the attendees, "My roots are deeper than your pockets."

Susan Arnold of the Appalachian Mountain Club discussed a visual impact model regarding the Northern Pass proposal. She said that 95,000 acres of the state would have a view of the tall power lines. This includes 3,000 acres in the White Mountain National Forest. The proposed route would also cross I-93 six times, Arnold said.

Jim Dannis of Dalton and Christophe Courchesne of the Conservation Law Foundation discussed the idea of burying the power lines. Dannis hoped the project would never happen, but if it does go forward, "Let's do it in a way that's sensible to the state," he said.

He presented some preliminary data on potential state rental revenue if the lines were buried in state rights of way, such as along highways and rail lines. "We want to plant the seed," Dannis said, for elected officials to consider the possibility of tens of millions of dollars from this approach.

Courchesne discussed studies that show burial of the lines is financially feasible. He also talked about the potential for transmitting Canadian power using existing power lines. This could be possible because the lines are not operating at maximum capacity, Courchesne said.

Later in the meeting, Nancy Martland of Sugar Hill asked for suggestions on "how we can move forward together." The group suggested several ideas, from a boycott of Quebec, to further discussion with allies in the Southern New Hampshire and around New England. Susan Ford, Grafton-3 representative, said more staffing of anti-Northern Pass booths at fairs and other events throughout the state could move that idea forward.

Coös state representative Larry Rappaport said ATV riders are generally opposed to Northern Pass. Further work with them would be another way to join forces. Donna Alexson said innkeepers and the hospitality industry in general can help inform people about the potential negative impacts of Northern Pass.

With some discussion of legislative activity, Debi Warner of Littleton said residents should keenly follow legal and state house updates. The group also noted the need to make better use of social media, as well.

Each idea seemed to unify the group even more. As the meeting wrapped up, the attendees appeared intent on getting back to work on their goal of defeating Northern Pass.

Related Documents

Northern Pass Planning & Info Meeting, June 9, 2013 (agenda, speakers, co-sponsors).

"Towering Trees, not Transmission Towers," Op-Ed by Jeanne Shaheen and Judd Gregg, Concord Monitor, June 9, 2013. 

"My Roots are Deeper than Your Pockets,"  by Howard Mosedale, Yankee Magazine; reprinted in Forest Notes, Spring, 2013.

Northern Pass Visual Impact Assessment, by Susan Arnold for the Appalachian Mountain Club.

"A New Hampshire Revenue Opportunity: Lease State-Owned ROWs for Transmission Lines," by Jim and Sandy Dannis for Responsible Energy Action LLC.

"Alternatives to the Northern Pass Project," by Christophe Courchesne for the Conservation Law Foundation.



Audio recording by "Bulldog" Brian Tilton for 107.7 WTPL.

Video recording by Bob O Connor for Littleton Area TV Channel 2.