Updates on Northern Pass

Found this in our mailbox, sent from Bury Northern Pass, updates on the latest goings-on around the issue of the transmission lines that PSNH and Hydro-Quebec wants to pass through the White Mountains including the National Forest.

Burial bill
Nov. 22, 2012
NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.
A North Country legislator is proposing a law that would require new electric utility lines to be located along existing highways.
If Rep. Larry Rappaport’s bill become law, utility companies would be required – as much as possible – to put new electric transmission lines alongside state rights-of-way such as highways.
Rappaport, of Colebrook, contends that would have two benefits.
“The roads are already there.”
 It would also help the state with its budget problems.
“That will mean that the money which would be obtained by leasing or renting or whatever would accrue to the state of New Hampshire as opposed to private, for-profit companies.”
That could affect the Northern Pass project.
Under the current arrangement Hydro-Quebec would provide the electricity.
Then, it would pay Northern Pass to transmit it along a route Northern Pass developed through the state.
If the law passes Rappaport says Hydro-Quebec would pay tens of millions of dollars a year to New Hampshire and not Northern Pass.
Northern Pass Leases Coos Land Linked To Yale
NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.
Nov. 21
The Northern Pass Transmission project has taken a big step forward in its search for a route through the North Country – with some help from Yale University.
Northern Pass has signed a deal allowing it to put transmission lines along 20 miles through eastern Coos County.
In a statement Public Service of New Hampshire president Gary Long described the arrangement as “a huge step for the project.”
However, the statement did not say if Northern Pass has all the land it needs.
The land was leased from Wagner Forest Management on behalf of the owner, Bayroot LLC.
Bayroot LLC is an investment linked to Yale University, according to 2009, 2010 and 2011 filings with the IRS.
A Yale spokesman said the university does not discuss its investments.
The Coos County Democrat reports that the  lease allows transmission lines to be either above or below ground.
Northern Pass gains another 20 miles of right-of-way for towers
New Hampshire Union Leader Nov. 23
CONCORD – Developers of the Northern Pass electricity project said this week they have cut a deal for 20 miles of needed right-of-way from Dixville Peak toward Stark in Coos County.
Public Service of New Hampshire President Gary Long called the leasing of Wagner Woodlands land a huge step for the project that would deliver electricity from Hydro-Quebec through New Hampshire and into the New England power grid.
“This brings us closer to our goal of delivering clean, low-cost hydropower to the region’s energy grid while providing New Hampshire with hundreds of new jobs and millions in new tax revenue,” Long said in a statement.
“This project not only brings significant economic benefits to our state, but will also have a tremendous environmental impact as well by removing 5 million tons of carbon from our atmosphere.”
The Society for the Protection of NH Forests, which had hoped to strike its own deal for the Wagner land, maintains that it can still block the 180-mile high-power transmission project. Forest Society spokesman Jack Savage said it is seeing more money coming in to preserve private land in the Stewartstown area.
Savage acknowledged, however, that the society had failed to meet its self-imposed deadline to raise $2.5 million for the blocking effort. He said it was a “somewhat arbitrary deadline of the end of October.” It has raised about $1 million to date.
The Society used some of that money to buy an easement on a Balsams tract of more than 5,000 acres, which abuts the land managed by Wagner Woodlands.
The Lyme-based Wagner company works on behalf of its client and property owner, Bayroot, a timber management organization. It essentially funds pensions by timbering.
Tom Colgan, Wagner’s president and chief executive officer, said the Northern Pass complements its forest management and that Wagner is pleased to help bring to the region “a major new source of clean and renewable energy.”
No financial information was offered about the deal, which was posted on the Northern Pass website Tuesday.
The $1.2 billion project to bring 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectricity into the New England grid is proposed by PSNH parent Northeast Utilities. It would transmit power on 140 miles of existing right-of-way but needs to link together 40 miles of North Country real estate to connect with the existing infrastructure in Groveton.
Savage of the Forest Society says regulators consider it a private transmission development not necessary for the New England grid and he questions the “clean” claim because of the flooding of Canadian lands to develop the hydro power.
Susan Schibanoff said:
In other words, more (but different) rich folks in Connecticut are trying to rip off Coos County and NH. This time they’re in New Haven, not Hartford — Yale Univ. investments are linked to Bayroot/Wagner (see NHPR). And Yale’s colonial NH forest administrator at Wagner, Tom Colgan, mouths false green pieties about “clean” big hydro to justify the exploitation. (King George III probably said something to the same effect that it was beneficial to steal all the white pines from New England to keep the Empire afloat.) It’s time to stand up, NH, and demand autonomy from the forces in New Haven, Hartford, and Montreal that want to strip NH of our economic independence and our ability to determine our own way and quality of life. There’s a new governor and many new legislators in NH. Let them know what you think. Now. If NU and Hydro-Quebec get through overhead this time, it’s just the beginning.
Tom Colgan, Wagner Forest CEO, on feeling good at the end of the day
“[Our foresters] want to feel good at the end of the day about what they’re doing, about how they’re working, and what they accomplished in the woods. They are locals. They have to live with what they do every day and have to live with the community.” –Tom Colgan, President and CEO, Wagner Forest Management, at a Yale Forest Forum, 2002. (http://environment.yale.edu/gisf/files/pdfs/yff_reviews/05.03.pdf, p. 18)
It’s so much easier to tell the truth: fallout from the Q3 investor call
In a lame attempt to cover for NU’s Tom May, who made bizarre claims in the Nov. 13th Q3 investor call, Martin Murray has offered equally far-fetched explanations. According to Murray, May didn’t say that Northern Pass has the support of every environmental organization in New England; May said they support Cape Wind. May didn’t say that ISO-NE was a big proponent of Northern Pass; May said ISO-NE is a big proponent of fuel diversity (an equally questionable claim). May didn’t say that Maggie Hassan is supportive of Northern Pass; May said “if” she is supportive of Northern Pass. . . .
Exec’s Statements On Northern Pass Challenged
NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.
Last week at a conference in Arizona a top official at Northeast Utilities provided an update on the Northern Pass Transmission project.
But some of his statements are being refuted.
The industry conference was for electric utility companies, analysts and those interested in the business.
In one session Thomas J. May, the president and CEO of Northeast Utilities spoke about his company’s Northern Pass project.
“This project has the support of every environmental group in New England, basically.”
That came as a huge and infuriating surprise to some of the region’s major environmental groups.
Jack Savage is with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, which opposes the project.
“Well, I thought at best Mr. May was irresponsibly misinformed.”
Christophe Courchesne, is a lawyer for the Conservation Law Foundation, which opposes the project in its current form.
“We’re not aware of any groups that support the project.”
A Northern Pass spokesman didn’t respond when asked for a list of environmental groups May said were supporting the project.
May also puzzled some people with a comment about ISO New England, which operates the region’s high-voltage power grid and wholesale electricity markets.
“ISO New England, which is responsible for our reliability and keeping the lights on to a great degree are very concerned about capacity and the need for increased fuel diversity. So, they have been a big proponent of this project.”
But ISO New England spokeswoman Marcia Blomberg said the group has not taken a position on Northern Pass.
May also suggested there is good news ahead when Governor-elect Maggie Hassan takes office.
“There is a new governor in New Hampshire that we believe is supportive of the project.”
However, Hassan spokesman Marc Goldberg said Hassan “is not supportive of the initial proposal” and “any new proposal should undergo rigorous review and address concerns of the communities involved.”
Finally May told the group that the governor of Connecticut – where Northeast Utilities is based – is behind the project and will go to some lengths to help.
“Governor Malloy has been very outspoken about it and has suggested he would go to President Obama to help us with the licensing on this project.”
Andrew Doba, a spokesman for governor Dannel Malloy, said the governor thinks Northern Pass could be a good thing for the region.
But, he said, the governor did not offer to speak to President Obama about it.
James Doyle
Thank you for stating the record and refuting addressing the disinformation tactics.
Northern Pass official under fire over assessment of project’s support
Monitor staff
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Several environmental groups say a Northern Pass official grossly misrepresented the project’s standing in New Hampshire at a financial investor conference last week by claiming the groups and Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan support the project. The official says his comments are being twisted to hurt the project.
Tom May, chief executive officer of Northeast Utilities, which is behind the $1.1 billion Northern Pass project, told conference attendees that the proposed hydro-power project would bring more environmental benefits to New England than any project before it. He also said that his company believes Hassan supports the project when she has publicly said she has some concerns about it.
“We believe New Hampshire will recognize the value of this project to them,” May said.
But most controversial was this statement: “It’s a pretty big environmental impact,” May said, according to a recording of his remarks available on the internet. “And this project has the support of every environmental group in New England, basically.”
That’s untrue – if May was talking about Northern Pass, as environmental activists say he was.
But Martin Murray, a Northern Pass spokesman, said Tuesday that May was not referring to Northern Pass in that last statement. He said May was instead referring to the offshore Cape Wind energy project in Massachusetts. Murray said Northern Pass officials are aware of objections raised by environmental groups.
The proposed Northern Pass, introduced in 2010, is a partnership between Northeast Utilities, Public Service of New Hampshire and Hydro-Quebec. The project would bring hydro-power through New Hampshire and into the New England energy grid along 140 miles of high-voltage transmission lines.
North Country opposition
The project has been delayed by opposition, especially from North Country landowners and environmental groups. In response to that opposition, the Legislature this year passed a law prohibiting a private project like Northern Pass from taking land by eminent domain.
From Goveton south, the Northern Pass lines would run in the existing power line clearings maintained by PSNH. Project officials have struggled to build the northern 40 miles of the route, which will require new clearings. Several miles of transmission lines would run through the White Mountain National Forest.
Project officials are buying land now with plans to unveil the full route by the end of the year.
In his conference remarks last week, May did refer to Cape Wind but only once. And he had returned to discussing Northern Pass before he mentioned the support of environmental groups. He was speaking at the annual Edison Electric Institute Financial Conference in Arizona.
“I think you have to consider Mr. May’s comments, at best, irresponsibly misinformed,” said Jack Savage, spokesman for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, which is trying to raise $2.5 million to block the project. The group has raised more than $1 million from 1,200 donors in 178 New Hampshire cities and towns, Savage said.
The society is going to use that money raised to put conservation easements on two parcels along Northern Pass’s likely path. The group hopes to put conservation easements on three additional parcels. Savage said the environmental objections have been no secret to May.
“You can go to Northern Pass’s own project journal and see references to us, the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Conservation Law Foundation as three environmental groups that clearly do not support Northern Pass as proposed,” he said.
Susan Arnold, AMC’s vice president for conservation, said she didn’t know of a single New England environmental group that does support Northern Pass. “The Appalachian Mountain Club does not support the Northern Pass project as proposed and we have been very public about our concerns,” Arnold said in an email. “We are mystified as to where Mr. May gets his information.”
Christophe Courchesne, an attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation in New Hampshire, disputed May’s statements in a lengthy blog post on the foundation’s website, clf.org. He also posted a link to a recording of May’s comments.
“It was extremely disappointing that Northeast Utilities continues to take the approach of repeating false and misleading information,” Courchesne said in an interview Tuesday. “And this time, it’s not even colorably accurate.”
The Monitor listened to the recordings of May’s remarks several times Tuesday.
He began by saying Northern Pass was making good progress. He said the project’s timing is “critical” because ISO-New England, which oversees the supply and demand of the New England energy market, has been looking for more energy diversity in the market.
Northern Pass would introduce 1,200 megawatts of hydropower to the New England market, which currently relies heavily on natural gas, nuclear energy and oil. May said ISO-New England has “been a big proponent of this project.”
An ‘elective’ project
Marcia Blomberg, a spokeswoman for ISO-New England, said Tuesday that the organization has not taken a position on the Northern Pass. ISO-New England has said previously that Northern Pass is an “elective” energy project that is not needed to “keep the lights on” in New England.
Asked about May’s statement, Murray said May was saying only that ISO-New England is encouraging a diversity of energy sources and that hydro-power would do that.
May next said that Northern Pass would lower energy prices in New England.
“No other project that anyone has considered in our region has anywhere near the economic or environmental impact that this project has,” he said. May said “people are suggesting” that the project could lower energy prices in the region by $200 to $300 million annually.
“The environmental value, there is no project that is anywhere near or a series of projects that have anywhere near this impact,” May said. “Many of you have heard about the Cape Wind project. This has six to seven times more environmental value in it.”
May then said Northern Pass would lower carbon fuel emissions in the region to a degree that the drop would equal taking 900,000 cars off the road annually. Then May made the comment that environmental groups have criticized.
“So, it’s a pretty big environmental impact,” May said, “and this project has the support of every environmental group in New England, basically.”
Jobs, tax revenue
May spoke next about the 1,200 jobs and the $25 million in property taxes Northern Pass is predicted to bring New Hampshire. He said he’d been in Quebec two weeks earlier meeting with his Canadian partners.
“I believe that we’re both very anxious to get going on this project now that the elections are over and now that there is a new governor in New Hampshire that we believe is supportive of the project, and we can start to bring our case before the people of New Hampshire once again.”
Tuesday, Murray disputed that version of May’s remarks. He said May couched the remark by saying “if there is a governor in New Hamsphire that is supportive.” The Monitor did not hear the comment that way.
Unwavering position
And during her campaign, Hassan said the project would need the support of local communities to get her support. She also said she would prefer to see the transmission lines buried, something Northern Pass officials have said is too expensive and impractical to consider.
Hassan’s spokesman said Hassan’s position has not changed.
“As a state senator, she worked to pass a constitutional amendment to prohibit the use of eminent domain for private gain, and she opposes the use of eminent domain for this project,” said Marc Goldberg in an email. (Northern Pass officials have said they don’t intend to pursue eminent domain.) “Gov.-Elect Hassan believes that we must protect the scenic views of the North Country, which are vital to our tourism industry and to protecting our quality of life. As governor, she will ensure that, in accordance with the law, New Hampshire undertakes a rigorous review process of any proposal and provide significant opportunities for public voices to be heard.”
Goldberg also said Hassan hopes that the next proposal will address the concerns of the communities involved.
“She believes that burying the lines would be a more appropriate approach, and also supports looking into home-grown energy sources, such as the new biomass plant under construction in Berlin,” said Goldberg.
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