Jeanie Forrester - Northern Pass can afford complete burial of lines

A couple weeks ago the latest version of the Northern Pass route through New Hampshire was announced. It's another step in the right direction.

The new proposal, the "NH Forward Plan", proposes to reduce the capacity of the transmission line from 1200 megawatts down to 1000 megawatts. By doing this, Northern Pass will be able to lower tower heights by 10-15 feet for that part of the project that remains on overhead towers.

The new plan buries an additional 52 miles of transmission line from Bethlehem to Ashland. When combined with the eight miles buried in Clarksville and Stewartstown, it will make a total of 60 buried miles of transmission line.

Burial will avoid towers and lines through the Rocks Estate, the White Mountain National Forest, and the towns of Sugar Hill, Easton, Woodstock, Lincoln, Thornton, Campton, and Holderness. It will also eliminate towers and lines on Interstate 93 where the towers would have been very visible from Lincoln to Ashland.

The "NH Forward Plan" offers a purchase power agreement between Hydro Quebec and Eversource, guaranteeing that 10 percent of the Hydro Quebec power remains in New Hampshire for use by New Hampshire consumers.

There's also a $200 million "NH Forward Fund" to invest in economic development projects in New Hampshire, including the upgrade of the existing Coos Loop electric transmission system (that would allow Eversource to partner with Wagner Forest Management to build a new wind farm in two unincorporated towns in northern Coos County).

This plan is an improvement over the last plan and it is unfortunate that it took five years to get to this point. I am hoping that it doesn't take another five years for Northern Pass to bury the entire project.

I'm pleased to see that Northern Pass now agrees burying the line is affordable. The fact that they can still build the project for the same $1.4 billion construction cost that their most recent Northern Pass proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy was estimated to cost (with 179 of 187 miles above ground) proves that out.

It's nice the new plan provides $200 million for economic development, although it seems the dollars would be better spent on more burial that would avoid towers or new transmission line rights-of-way in Coos County. It seems foolish to destroy some of the most beautiful views in Coos County in the first place and then use economic development money to mitigate damage that is entirely avoidable.

Besides 120+ miles of this project still being overhead, an equally significant concern is the fact that Northern Pass continues to propose violating private property rights. This new plan still requires going through the Washburn Family Forest in Clarksville, which is an illegal infringement on property rights of the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests (SPNHF).

Additionally, two places along the new underground route are through Forest Society easements where SPNHF owns land on both sides of the road, similar to the situation in Clarksville.

Five years ago the Legislature battled fiercely to protect private property rights. We finally passed HB-648 which prevented private developers from using the eminent domain process to take private property. Northern Pass does not have the right to cross these private easements and private property, so why are these areas still on their route?

The companies involved in this project can afford complete burial of this transmission line. The dollar value of the electricity to be sold over the 40-year contract period between Eversource and Hydro Quebec is large enough to support the cost of completely burying the line in New Hampshire. There is no valid argument offered by HQ or Eversource to suggest otherwise.

For five years, folks along the Northern Pass route, from the Canadian border to Deerfield have stood together to oppose this project. No issue in recent history has so united people, across party lines so strongly, for so long.

There was no stronger advocate for the North Country and its people than Councilor Ray Burton, who was the very first elected official to publicly oppose the project.

Former Governor John Lynch came to the conclusion that if New Hampshire communities impacted by the project did not support it, then the project should not be built.

Senator Ayotte has come to the conclusion that Northern Pass should be completely buried in New Hampshire. I agree with her: New Hampshire IS worth it!

To the Northern Pass officials, this is about New Hampshire choosing New Hampshire's future, not Hydro Quebec or Eversource choosing New Hampshire's future.

Let's see a plan that buries the entire line, a plan that respects private property; a plan that doesn't destroy our property values, our tourism economy, and our treasured landscapes.

(NOTE: Northern Pass will hold a series of Public Information Sessions in each of the five counties where the project will be located. The sessions are a required part of the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee permitting process and must be held at least 30 days before Northern Pass files its application. For more information:

(Meredith Republican Jeanie Forrester represents District 2 in the New Hampshire Senate.)




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To The Daily Sun,

Entering its fifth year of providing healthy food for families in Laconia, GOT LUNCH! Laconia formed a new partnership this year with four CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms in the area to provide fresh produce to the children that we serve. The proceeds from our successful "Eat Out For GOT LUNCH! Laconia Week" subsidized our cooperative venture with these CSA farms.

These farms provided us with fresh from the field vegetables every Monday morning which in turn was given to our families along with the usual bags of healthy food. Thank you to the following farms: Beans & Greens Farm of Gilford, Red Manse Farm of Loudon, Still Seeking Farm of Gilmanton, and Winnipesaukee Woods Farm of Alton/Gilford.

GOT LUNCH! Laconia families were so excited about the fresh vegetables. One mom said she got really creative and put kale in her spaghetti sauce and even made kale chips! The families were so grateful to be able to give their children healthy food!

If you wish to help these farms by participating in a CSA sponsorship, please contact these farms directly for fresh, local and sustainably-raised products or to sign up for CSA for you family.

Advisory Board

GOT LUNCH! Laconia


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$7.25 only for entry-level workers? True in theory but far from practice

To The Daily Sun,

Recently, there have been several letters regarding raising the minimum wage. Having been a retail manager, spanning some 40 years, I have a few opinions and observations.

Prior to the last recession, retail was a field where an individual could earn a fair wage, have the opportunity to advance, enjoy numerous benefits, including health insurance, 401(k) options, profit sharing to name a few. Since then, the field has dramatically changed. Companies have eliminated a large percentage of their full-time positions, replacing them with part-time, unbenefited positions.

Many companies have not given cost of living increases in years. One company, that I will not name, has not given their store employees a raise in six years. During my time as a store manager, when we did receive an increase, it was in the range of 2.5 to 3 percent storewide. This had to be distributed according to job performance. If, for example, you had an exceptional employee, they would receive 25 cents. To accomplish this, two other employees might only receive 10 cents.

The figure of $7.25 seems to be the magical number. Several of our contributors have asserted that this was solely meant for the entry-level worker — a kid just starting out. True in theory, but far from practice. No one seems to factor in the individual who was hired at say, $7.50 an hour or $8. How can anyone possibly survive? Now, factor in the following: It has become the practice of many companies to over-hire. Suppose you have a staff of 10, with the part-timers getting 20 hours a week. Now, if you increase the staff to 15, the hours shrink to maybe 8 or 12. Multiply this by $7.50. How many jobs would these individuals have to work to earn a living wage? Questioning the morality of this, I have been told, "They're lucky to have jobs."

Now factor in that these individuals have no sick time, no vacation pay and no paid holidays.

I cannot fathom that this could possibly be considered acceptable.

In his recent letter Mr. McCoole declared that anyone who favored raising the minimum wage was a "low-intelligence voter". If disagreeing with his views is the determining factor of my intelligence, so be it ... I'm dumb. I never presume to present my "opinions" as facts. If advocating a fair, reasonable wage classifies me as a "bleeding heart liberal" and a "donkey," I'm okay with that, too.

June M. Huot


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I urge Laconia Police to arrest them, cuff them & lock them up

To The Daily Sun,

Attention seekers like Heidi Lilley and Kia Sinclair ("Free the Nipple — New Hampshire") once again will do simply anything to grab the limelight of foolishness! The very recent rash of demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, and other cities nationwide apparently does little to placate the desire to media exposure of some individuals.

Without going into the sexual mores of various sects of the human race, allow me to put forth the fact that I have not yet encountered one single, sane male who has sought surgical breast enlargement, a skimpier bikini or lower cut dresses. Neither have I ever encountered males who wish to parade naked on the beaches of our Granite State.

The attractiveness of the female breast is, and has been throughout history, a healthy contributor to sexual desires of both sexes which Lilley and Sinclair simply wish to abolish for no valid reason. What's next, ladies? Want to parade naked in downtown Nashua?

I urge the Laconia Police Department to arrest them, cuff them and lock them up. I likewise urge the court to impose a monetary penalty (fine) of $10,000 each.

Lou Ouellette

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County administrator's employment contract flies in face of RSA 24:15

To The Daily Sun,

Belknap's County's governance is the commission and the delegation. Each is expressly empowered by law(s) established by the Legislature. Not long ago the county form of government (powers) was delineated, essentially upheld in Belknap County Superior Court.

Accordingly, I believe two issues have been and are being brushed aside as business as usual, also defined as habitude: habitual failure to comply with the letter of the law makes it okay.

RSA 24:15 — Exceeding Appropriations — expressly states that no county commissioner, or elected officer, i.e. delegate member, shall agree to pay, or incur any liability for payment of, any sum of money for which the county convention has made no appropriation.

First, the county administrator's contractual agreement, which is reported to have a severance clause which includes that upon termination, the county shall pay one year's salary. The assumption seems to be that in addition to the portion of the annual salary, benefits and accrued vacation, to date of termination, that an additional lump-sum payment equivalent to the yearly amount appropriated in the annual budget for administrator salary line item(s) amount for the applicable fiscal year, could take place.

The fact is this payment cannot take place without the approval of the Executive Committee for a transfer of unencumbered balances of other line items, or a supplemental appropriation of the delegation.

Example: Total cost of employment $150,000. Termination Date July 1. Year-to-date cost of employment $75,000. Per agreement the remainder, lump sum, due is $150,000 — or is it $75,000?

Absent a delegation request for legal opinion, the assumption is that the taxpayers are on the hook for an additional $150,000 annually even if the termination occurred on Dec. 30. According to the law, there is no way an employment contract can compel the delegation to annually appropriate the salary (a fixed regular payment, typically paid on a monthly or biweekly basis but often expressed as an annual sum) of any appointed employee's.

No agreement union or individual contract can mandate, force an appropriation line item amount upon the delegation, the appropriating authority. In the instance of severance pay that is not included in the annual budget and specifically in excess of the annual budget, effectively doubling a salary appropriation in the event of termination.

Think about it. What is the duration of the agreement? Is it automatically renewed? Is non-renewal a termination? If one would shift the termination date back or forward impacting the budget, i.e. more or less does that impact the budget, and by how much? What if the 2016 annual budget appropriation is $50,000 for the salary of administrator? Could the commission, following 2016 budget adoption, make the position part-time or terminated the position in its entirety? Where is the termination amount listed in the budget?

Second, it's reported that the delegation approved the commission's proposed Teamsters' union contract. It is reported that "the contract will have a $14,586.67 impact on this year's budget." This amount exceeds affected line items but cannot exceed the total sum of appropriations in any year made by the Belknap County Convention. Therefore, two situations exist: 1. The Executive Committee must approve the transfers of unencumbered line items to fund the over expenditures involved with the $14,586.67 to which the delegation has no involvement. (RSA 24:15); 2. If the contract in fact results in exceeding the 2015 budget a supplemental appropriation is necessary. Therefore, what exactly took place with a vote by the delegation? Was the annual budget or the related individual line items amounts supplemented by the convention to the sum of $14,568.67? What are the line items numbers? How was the Executive Committee review of transfer in excess of $500 request bypassed? A feel good authentication vote is not an appropriation.

Thomas A. Tardif



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