EASTON — Kris Pastoriza is preparing to face a judge for protesting Northern Pass by staging a sit-in on Aug. 10 by the Ham Branch River on Route 116 where project subcontractors were scheduled to drill bore holes.
Pastoriza, 53, lives off the grid in a cabin in Easton owned by her mother. The former Evander Brown farm area is mostly surrounded by White Mountain National Forest.
She serves on the local conservation commission, which is an intervenor in the project. On Oct. 18, Pastoriza is scheduled to appear in Littleton District Court charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.
“I guess I’ll plead guilty and present my nine pages of e-mail contacts I made with regulatory agencies, which yielded no response,” Pastoriza said during interviews, which were mostly done by email.
A breakfast cook, Pastoriza also cuts wood and creates jewelry and sculpture. She expects it will be a brief court hearing and suspects fines will be about $2,200.
Pastoriza generates electricity using three solar panels and eight batteries, enough to fire up a computer, lights (LED), printer, Wi-Fi, and scanner – among other appliances – enough to write numerous comments and complaints about Northern Pass and Eversource Energy. They plan to build a 192-mile extra high voltage transmission line from Pittsburg to Deerfield.
The controversial project plans to bring hydropower from Hydro-Quebec in Canada to New Hampshire and then on to the New England grid. But first it must win approval by the state Site Evaluation Committee by Sept. 30, 2017, as well as federal approval.
“I am still active because Northern Pass Transmission, like all publicly held corporations, acts without morality,” Pastoriza said. She said she believes state and federal agencies work to benefit corporations at the expense of the environment, communities and humanity.
Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray criticized similar comments Pastoriza had written about corporate immorality.
That’s her “perspective of fellow New Hampshire residents, including me and others, who are working on a proposed project that we sincerely believe will greatly benefit all citizens of our state,” Murray said.
Murray said the work that Pastoriza stopped that day was required to determine where the power lines could be buried in that section of the line. Most of the line will be overhead.
“It was being done as required by the state as part of the permitting process for the project,” Murray said. “All necessary permits for the work are in place and are being adhered to.”
“Ms. Pastoriza was preventing the crew from doing the work that they are permitted to do,” Murray said. The project team members indicated that they wanted to go ahead with the scheduled work that they were permitted to do, he said.
“The sheriff/deputy told Kris that she would be removed if she did not leave the area and allow the work to continue,” Murray said, also by email. “She was then asked three times by the sheriff/deputy to leave, after which she was removed.”
Murray noted that Pastoriza has made filings and participated at some of the public meetings that have been held.
“That is her right,” Murray said. “And yet, she has sought to prevent us from doing the work we are required to do as part of that same process. That’s wrong.”
When she stopped the Northern Pass subcontractor from drilling a bore hole near the Ham Branch River on Route 116 in Easton the day she was arrested, Pastoriza said it was because she was concerned about the environment.
“I really didn’t want boring fluids dumped there, and worry what effect the 60? drill hole will have on the river and groundwater,” she said.
Although Pastoriza said she doesn’t expect others to engage in civil disobedience, she believes the project is growing more unpopular all the time.
“I don’t think anyone else will sit on a bore hole, unfortunately. I do think the lack of response from the regulatory agencies is angering people,” Pastoriza said.
Pastoriza has enough power in the summer to run a refrigerator. She washes her clothes in a hand washer with a wringer and doesn’t have a dryer.
“I get hot water from my stove in the winter, which is also a cook stove. In the summer I dunk in the river or use a solar shower.” She has a composting toilet.
“I suppose this would seem like deprivation to some people, but it doesn’t to me. I feel exceedingly fortunate to be here,” Pastoriza said.
“I’d rather have less things and more time,” she said.