By GARRY RAYNO,
CONCORD — Northern Pass will mean worthless property, fewer visitors and a scar across New Hampshire’s scenic landscape, opponents warned Thursday referring to the $1.6 billion, 192-mile high-voltage project to bring Hydro-Quebec electricity to the New England grid at the state Site Evaluation Committee’s second public comment hearing.
But others described the controversial transmission project as essential for lower-cost, reliable electricity saving large users millions of dollars. And they said it would help offset global warming and provide opportunities for union workers to find work near their homes instead of traveling to other states.
Opponents outnumbered supporters among the 30 or so speakers, but not by the 10-to-one ratio in 1,300 plus written comments submitted to the committee.
Thomas Moulis of Ashland asked people to remember the state’s motto on license plates years ago. “Scenic” was great advertising, he said, and brought millions of visitors and dollars to New Hampshire making it very prosperous.
“You want to jeopardize this for $18 a year?” Moulis asked, referring to the proposed average savings for someone using 300 kilowatts of electricity a month. “It said scenic because we meant it. We should not give up on something God has given us.”
Tom Mullen of Campton, one of the former owners of Owl’s Nest Resort, said Northern Pass radically changed his and his family’s life.
He told the SEC that the Owl’s Nest was a very successful development of resort homes and condominiums around a golf course until 2010 when the Northern Pass project was announced. The proposed route went directly through his property on the existing right-of-way, he said.
Four years later, the banks foreclosed on the property, and he and his family lost all they invested in the project to keep it going, Mullen said.
“There was no value left to our property. We could not sell anything to anyone for any price,” Mullen said. “This is a bad deal for New Hampshire.”
Mullen and his partner sued Eversource, but the superior court dismissed the suit and the ruling was upheld by the state Supreme Court.
Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray, said “public records clearly demonstrate that the reduction in property sales at Owl’s Nest began years before the 2010 public announcement of NPT, despite Mr. Mullen’s claims.”
A real estate business owner, Ken Mosedale of Franconia told a similar story about land he owns along Route 116 where the transmission line will be buried.
The burial work will cut trees that act as a buffer along one lot of his development meaning no one will every buy it, he said.
Instead of looking at the mountains and hearing songbirds, Mosedale said, anyone buying the lot would look at lots of traffic and hear lots of noise.
He and several others testifying Thursday suggested the line be buried along Interstate 93.
But Glenn Della-Monica of Hudson said all power generating facilities are ugly including solar panels and wind farms. “Everyone loves them until someone wants to put one up next to you,” he said.
Della-Monica noted that several people complained the jobs created by Northern Pass would be temporary, but he said temporary jobs built the building they are in and your house. Those temporary jobs are called the construction industry, he noted.
“We need power and Northern Pass is sufficiently a greater good that offsets the negatives,” he said.
Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tracy Hatch also talked about the need for more power.
Different businesses in her organization have one thing in common, she said, concern over the cost and stable supply of energy. Large users such as BAE and Southern New Hampshire Medical Center spend millions of dollars a year on electricity.
“We need to increase the supply to help drive down the costs for our businesses,” Hatch said.
Several trade union members told the committee they have to travel out of state to work because there are few opportunities in New Hampshire. Anastasia Park of Lee is an iron worker who said she constantly travels to Massachusetts to work.
She said construction jobs are the backbone of the economy and those jobs are not flocking to New Hampshire because high electric rates are driving business away.
“You are losing a young, highly educated and skilled workforce yes to Massachusetts,” Lee told the committee. “Everyone is talking about the past, but we are losing our future.”
Edward Jeffrey, president of NH Central Railroad, who lives in North Stratford, said the North Country is losing its tax base as more and more people put land into conservation easements or sell it.
He said the project would bring much needed property taxes to North Country communities and to Coos County. “This will help,” Jeffrey said.
Deerfield resident Harriet Cady said many town boards and officials have spoken out illegally against the project. She said numerous court decisions forbid the use of taxpayer dollars to take political action when the citizens may not agree with the stand.
“I ask the Site (Evaluation) Committee to recognize many citizens who want the clean hydro power in order to help reduce electric rates, to provide industry a reason to come to New Hampshire and more importantly to replace the power that will be lost when Bow closes and Seabrook’s life ends in just a few years,” she said.
But others said the project’s developer is willing to sacrifice the state’s beauty and environment for the company’s bottom line.
Combat veteran and school teacher Eric Northern of Bristol said he returned home to build a cabin off the grid on 34 acres of land he farms.
He said he has serious concerns about the project and its impact on his daily life as the transmission towers will be the first thing he sees every morning when he leaves and when he returns home at night.
“I encourage you to view this in its historical context,” he said to the committee. “Show future generations how much we care for them and not with quarterly earnings.”
Barbara Lucas of Bridgewater said the transmission towers do not belong in New Hampshire but in industrial zones where they will use the electricity.
“The placement of towers through rural communities and across our beautiful landscape is a travesty,” she said. “It will be a scar across our beautiful state only to satisfy the need for power in the states to our south.”
The third public comment hearing will be held July 20 from 9 a.m. to noon at 49 Donovan St. in Concord.
Adjudicatory hearings continue Friday with testimony from a panel of environmental scientists hired by Eversource to work on the project.
Garry Rayno can be reached at email@example.com
InDepthNH.org’s previous stories about the SEC hearings.
April 13, Day 1: Eversource NH Chief Quinlan On The Hot Seat At Northern Pass Hearing
April 14, Day 2: Eversource Chief Questioned About ‘Clean’ Energy Claims And Northern Pass Costs
April 17: Day 3: Eversource: Hydro-Quebec Revenues Could Fall Short In Northern Pass’ First Year
April 18: Day 4: Northern Pass’ Potential Health Concerns Debated At Hearing
April 19: Day 5: Concerns Raised About Northern Pass Affecting Health of Sherburne Woods Residents in Deerfield
April 30: Is NH Getting ‘Hoodwinked’ on Health and Safety By Northern Pass?
May 1: Day 6: Testimony: 44 New Access Roads Needed To Build 192-Mile Northern Pass in NH
May 2: Day 7: Northern Pass Expert: 3 Months of Construction Likely In Downtown Plymouth
May 3: Day 8: Project Official: Northern Pass Construction Limited To 7 am to 7 pm, Noise Assessed Daily
May 3: Eversource’s Chief Quinlan Listed as ‘Host’ For Sununu Fundraiser
May 4: Day 9: Grafton County Attorney Grills Northern Pass Experts On Land Buys
May 5: Day 9, story 2: Common Man’s Alex Ray: Northern Pass Disruption in Plymouth Would Be ‘Fatal’ To Business
May 8: Forest Society Calls Northern Pass Inflated Land Buys a ‘Shell Game’
May 25: Hydro-Quebec Explores Opportunities in New England, New York
May 31: InDepthNH.org, NHPR Talk Northern Pass With John Dankosky
May 31: Day 10: ‘Frac-Out’ Water Pollution Possible When Drilling To Bury Northern Pass
June 1: Day 11: Applicant: Northern Pass Would Mitigate Impact On Endangered State Butterfly
June 8: Day 12: Counsel for the Public: Northern Pass Financial Expert’s Perspective ‘Unnaturally Optimistic’
June 9: Day 13: Portions of Northern Pass Hearings Held In Closed Session, Again
June 12: Public Statement Hearings On Northern Pass Begin June 15
June 13: Day 14: Analyst: Customer Using 300 kw Would Save $1.50 a Month With Northern Pass
June 14: Day 15: Regulator: Committee Could Consider Conditioning Approval for Northern Pass
June 15: Day 16: Speaking Out For and Against Northern Pass From Connecticut to Concord
June 16: Day 17: Forest Society Presses Environmental Benefits of Burying Northern Pass, Yale Responds To Critics About Land Leased To Northern Pass
June 21: Northern Pass Wants Controversial Yale-Bayroot Lease Kept Confidential
June 20: Day 18: below:
Intervenors: Northern Pass Experts Failed To Identify All Impacted Wetlands
For more information about InDepthNH.org, which is published online by the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism, contact Nancy West at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 603-738-5635