Published DateTo the editor,
Last summer I sat on the "361" Commission to study the feasibility of burying electric transmission lines in the state rights of way. The conclusion was; yes, it is feasible. PSNH is against burying Northern Pass because it would lose tens of millions of dollars in transmission fees. The cost to bury would be around $2.2 billion, according to ABB, a world known leader in this type of project. Northern Pass estimates to overhead the lines would cost just over a billion dollars.
The cost to the economy of Northern New Hampshire would be catastrophic.
During the hearings of the "361" Commission, which consisted of some of the representatives of agencies that sit on the SEC, it was my feeling that we were "sandbagged" by those agencies. The final nail in the coffin was the Attorney General's office instructing agency members that they could not vote to accept the recommendations of the commission.
The energy that would flow through these transmission lines would have virtually no affect on our electric rates; 1/10th of a cent for every 200MW purchased from Hydro Quebec at .03 cents per KWH, according to testimony before the commission. This rate would not compensate taxpayers for the loss of thousands of dollars in property value of those located in close proximity to the transmission lines. The loss of tax assessment dollars would be borne by other taxpayers in the community in the form of higher property taxes. For those who lose property value, this would constitute a "taking" by a company for the sole purpose of generating profit.
Wind power projects are facing limits from the operators of the NE grid. Three operating wind projects in the Northeast Kingdom and the North Country of New Hampshire are facing restrictions, called "curtailments" and there are no indications that these restrictions will end anytime soon. "The VEC (Vermont Electric Co-operative) board of directors wants a moratorium on new wind and solar projects in Vermont. VEC is asking the Legislature to back off demands that utilities buy even more renewable and intermittent power until curtailments and other problems are studied."
"ISO-New England only accepted about half of the electricity that could be produced last year by Granite Reliable Power wind project in Coos County N.H." Why would we even consider allowing more projects to be built in N.H. when we can't even utilize the renewable capacity that currently exists?
So where do we stand as a state? Vermont has enacted some of the toughest environmental laws in the country, including restrictions on electric transmission lines. Maine has placed restrictions on the construction of power projects including a prerequisite of a demonstrable direct benefit to the citizens of Maine. Connecticut is imposing a requirement of burying most new transmission lines.
New Hampshire continues to allow its citizens and scenic mountains to be destroyed economically and environmentally by short sighted profit motivated private concerns.
As Executive Councilor Ray Burton said to Northern Pass officials; "smarten up and get out of here!"
There are a number House Bills being considered to address this situation: Rep. Skip Reilly, Rep. Neal Kurk and Rep. Larry Rappaport have bills that would require a moratorium for wind and transmission lines, the burying of transmission lines and burying transmission lines in public rights of way. The most important part of these bills is the establishment of a comprehensive energy plan for the State of New Hampshire. Let's support these bills, before the natural beauty of our state is permanently devastated not for the public good but for the sole purpose of corporate profit.