Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Littleton Chamber Pans the Pass

Published in the Caledonian Record, February 19, 2013.

Littleton Chamber Comes Out Against Northern Pass

Robert Blechl
Staff Writer
Caledonian Record

LITTLETON, N.H. -- The Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce has come out against Northern Pass as currently proposed, stating it does not promote local business needs and will be detrimental to the North Country's tourist industry.

In recent months, the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce and Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, both downstate, have voiced support for Northern Pass.

"We understand that some chambers of commerce in regions of New Hampshire, not suffering any direct negative impact, have chosen to publicly support the project, and thus we feel the need to offer a contrarian view," the LACC said in its statement issued Monday.

The position statement of the LACC board was approved during last week's board meeting and came about through an internal polling of chamber members, LACC Executive Director Chad Stearns said Monday.

The LACC in its statement also said there are no guarantees that the imported power, once added to the New England regional energy grid, will reduce electric power costs in New Hampshire or the North Country.

In their statement, LACC members said they wish "to go on the record stating that the vast majority of our membership cannot support the Northern Pass Transmission project as currently proposed. Our mission is to attract new [businesses] and promote existing business needs, and we feel this project does neither."

Northern Pass as proposed would entail approximately 1,100 steel towers at least 85 feet high that would stretch from the Canadian border in Pittsburg to Deerfield and pass through such towns as Franconia and Sugar Hill as well as portions of the White Mountain National Forest.

LACC members said the transmission line as proposed would be detrimental to the region by negatively impacting tourism, directly and indirectly, "as it will scar the area's iconic natural beauty for decades to come."

The chamber also feels Northern Pass would not contribute in a meaningful way to the region's long-term economic health, and in addition to reducing tourism, would likely reduce property values.

Chamber members also said Northern Pass would put local power producers and future renewable energy projects at a disadvantage if approval is granted to a "foreign utility."

Hydro-Quebec is proposing Northern Pass with partner Northeast Utilities, parent company of Public Service of New Hampshire.

"We firmly believe that economic impact studies performed have overestimated the project's short- and long-term benefits and underestimated the negative effects on the North Country economy," said LACC members. "The Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce is a pro-business organization, but we do not feel that the Northern Pass project as proposed will benefit the North Country, its businesses, communities or citizens in any economic, financial or civic way."