To The Daily Sun,
I think the folks who read The Sun might be interested in my responses to an e-mail I received from Amanda Wilson, a Community Relations person for the Northern Pass. I think we need to consider what she wrote and my responses if we are to examine the situation in a sensible manner. I have put sections of her e-mail in italics, followed by my comments.
Thank you for your responses to my e-mail, but I think you missed many of my points (I am a professional ecologist with a PhD in LImnology):
Hydropower from Quebec is a clean, renewable energy source. The carbon dioxide (CO2) emission levels of Hydro-Québec's hydroelectric developments are 40 times lower than those of a natural gas power plant, are comparable to those of a wind farm (excluding the fossil plant emissions required to back up a wind generator when the wind is not available), and less than that for a photovoltaic solar facility. As noted in page 10 of our amended application to the Department of Energy (seehttp://northernpass.us/assets/permits-and-approvals/northern-pass-amended-application-final.pdf ) other state and regional policies recommend importing Canadian hydro as an energy source.
Hydropower from Quebec is not a clean source of energy. To produce the hydropower, HydroQuebec had to drown huge region of Quebec. The outcome of this was the destruction of huge areas of northern boreal forest, thus decreasing the amount of CO2 that would have been absorbed if the forests were there. Secondly, by drowning the areas for the reservoirs, there is now a net movement of metals out of the substrate and also from the atmosphere into the reservoir waters. This happens because for the most part the reservoirs are somewhat acidic and as a result dissolve the heavy metals and put them into solution. Down wind circulation brings mercury from other source areas and the mercury gets methylated and ends up in the water column of the reservoir. These metals get into the food chain and get passed up the food chain often bioaccumulating in creatures at the top of the food chain. As a result, it is not safe to eat the fish from many of the reservoirs in Quebec.
NH's Power Need
New Hampshire is part of the New England grid (along with Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island) and currently uses approximately 10 percent of the energy on the New England grid. ISO-New England, the operator of the New England grid, projects N.H.'s peak electricity demand will grow by more than 17 percent over the next decade. Additionally, ISO-NE is projecting 8,300 megawatts of existing power generation is at risk of retirement from the regional market by 2020 and New England will need to build at least 5,900 megawatts to replace the energy from these retirements (see http://www.iso-ne.com/pubs/pubcomm/pres_spchs/2013/final_rourke_raab _061413.pdf ). The 1,200 megawatts of electricity from Northern Pass will ensure that at least part of the energy required to meet future demand will be clean, low-cost, and reliable. With NH currently relying on natural gas for the generation of more than 50 percent of its energy demand (which ISO-NE recognizes as a risk to grid reliability) the Northern Pass project will provide a source of energy that is low-cost, reliable, and less susceptible to cost volatility.
The power from HydroQuebec is not necessarily reliable. What happened in 1998 when the ice storm hit northern New England and Quebec? Montreal was out of power for a substantially long period of time because of the damage caused by the ice storm to the transmission lines. We need to move from central distribution of power to distributed distribution of power if the region is going to be sustainable over the long haul. Many of us have already put photovoltaics and solar hot water on our roofs, thus decreasing demand for power. If a large majority were to do this (and the money being spent on the Northern Pass could probably fund a huge number of these projects) then the total demand will go down (check out what is happening in Germany). I realize that we are part of the grid, but as all the figures show, N.H. is exporting power at the present time. Therefore, the problem of power use is for the folks in MA, CT, and NY to solve by decreasing their long-term demands and not relying on out of state sources of power that let them to continue to be wasteful in their energy usage. We also have a number of wind farms that are coming on-line and although the power from wind generation is not as reliable as from a coal or natural gas fired power plant, it is distributed power and not centralized. Also there are new innovations taking place not only in the way that we can grab wind energy, but also store it and smooth out the bumps. Check out what has happened in Denmark and Spain in terms of wind energy. Finally, another point; although reservoirs can regulate their flow (that is provide the flow needed to produce whatever the power demands are, the raising and lowering of the reservoir level wrecks havoc on the littoral area of the reservoir (just view some of the photos taken over the last decade of Lake Powell in Utah).
Northern Pass Underground
Northern Pass is proposing to underground a small portion of the route. Although burying the entire Northern Pass line has visual appeal, there are several major obstacles that make this option technically impractical and cost prohibitive: the cost associated with underground burial of transmission lines is 5 to 10 times more expensive than overhead (see http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=7250); linear trenching required for underground burial involves more extensive and permanent disruption to the environment by limiting opportunities to avoid wetlands and other sensitive resources; underground construction would require the mobilization of large, heavy equipment (flatbed trucks and cable reels that are 12-14 feet high and weigh approximately 25 to 30 tons each) to remote locations along significant portions of the route; and underground lines have a shorter life span, take longer to repair, and have higher repair and replacement costs than overhead lines.
If underground is so costly, why is it the most of the new power lines in Europe and in some areas of the U.S. are now being put underground. If building underground power lines is so complicated, how is it that the power produced on the South Island of New Zealand is delivered to the North Island via underwater power lines across the Cook Strait (I do realize that it is a great deal easier to lay power lines in water than on land, but I think it is a bit more awkward to repair the same lines than those on land). It seems like folks can drive from the Canadian border to the proposed end of the transmission lines. Why would it be so tough to use the same network of road that take a car from the border to the end as a place to bury the transmission lines? Although the roads might be somewhat remote, regular cars can travel them so it shouldn't be a big deal for construction vehicles to carry supplies, etc. over the same network. As to cost, this is private enterprise that is carrying this project out. If private enterprise is unwilling to pay the extra costs, then why should the citizens of N.H. subsidize private enterprise by allowing the company to construct a cheaper form of transmission line? Of course, if N.H. really doesn't need the power, why should we subsidize the folks in the other New England states so they can get cheaper power? Burying the lines might cost them more, but they should be willing to pay the extra cost, rather than the citizens of N.H. paying the environment costs.
As to the drop in assessment values, I end with this example. If you buy a house next to a freeway, you do not pay full value. Because of noise and other problems, in many cases, the DOT moves in and builds a huge wall between you and the freeway to block out the view and to block out the noise. Those houses are not ideal houses, but people will purchase them because the price is right. Is the northern Pass going to build a wall 70-100 feet tall adjacent to my property line which abuts the right-of-way with a mural Stinson and Moosilauke (my normal view)? They could even put tin foil in the wall the block the EMFJ.
Corporations should respect the will of the people and not run roughshod over the people. This feels like HydroQuebec is running roughshod over us to make a profit of the sale of their surplus power. HydroQuebec has run roughshod over the citizens of Quebec. Those citizens have had little control over what a quasi-governmental corporation has done to their province. The company has drown too much of Quebec and we shouldn't have to be the solution to their over-reaching plans.
Last Updated on Friday, 20 September 2013 10:43
To The Daily Sun,
CASA of N.H. provides children and youth who have been abused or neglected a volunteer advocate. This volunteer advocate gets to really know the child by meeting with them at least a month and also by speaking to the various adults involved in their life. Not only are the volunteers showing the child that there is an adult on their side who has so much hope for them and is striving to get them into safe and permanent home but they are also representing the child's best interest in court proceedings; approximately every three months.
Unfortunately, we are not able to serve every child in need. We have some amazing volunteer advocates, but not enough to help all of the kids who need it. A new training session begins October 19 in Plymouth. If you are interested please give me a call at 536-1663 or complete the application that can be found online at www.casanh.org
CASA of N.H.
Last Updated on Friday, 20 September 2013 10:33
To The Daily Sun,
I had the privilege of attending the meeting that the Alton Business Association hosted on Wednesday, Sept. 18 in Alton on the topic of workforce housing. The meeting went very smoothly for the most part, until planning board member and belligerent narcissist Thomas Hoopes decided to talk. He gave his opinion, as was his right, which also took the opposite side of 98 percent of the room. Another resident asked if he was there on behalf of the Planning Board or if he was speaking as an individual. At this point, Hoopes proceeded to yell at the woman, declaring that he was speaking as an individual, stuck his finger in her face, and yelled for her to sit down. This behavior on his part caused an uproar, causing another resident to tell him that by being on the Planning Board, he works for the residents of the town and he will not speak to his employers that way. He shouted back that he does not work for them, that he is a volunteer.
This is typical Hoopesie behavior, as has been noted in other letters to you and I can also attest to as I had my own personal run in with him at another public meeting I had attended. What Mr. Hoopes doesn't understand is that he was elected to his position and therefore is an employee of the residents of Alton. If he receives payment for his service to the town, he is a paid employee. He is not a volunteer and should learn to conduct himself in the manner befitting an employee. If he cannot behave properly when speaking to his employers, he should step down or be removed from the board as his services are no longer needed.
Last Updated on Friday, 20 September 2013 10:30
To The Daily Sun,
Before succumbing to the misinformation surrounding Common Core, I urge everyone to simply go to the source and read for yourself what this curriculum does and does not include. Details including grade-by-grade standards can be found at www.corestandards.org (not commoncore.org or other variations). There is no doubt that America's educational house is decaying and Common Core offers a starting point for producing a future generation that can compete on a global stage in math, science and technology. Common Core is the culmination of 20 years of efforts by business professionals, educators, and parents which has received support from the likes of Bill Gates, Jeb Bush, Dell Computers, Boeing, Intel, Microsoft, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Governors Association. The U.N. and Federal Reserve have nothing to do with this!
Set aside the fear mongering and read it for yourself. Common Core lays out an attainable, yet challenging set of educational objectives designed to produce a workforce that is able to compete in todays' world of high tech and global competition. For example, please examine the mathematical standards set forth at www.corestandards.org. Mathematics, in particular, represent objective, timeless and necessary truths that apply uniformly and equally to any citizen regardless of political affiliation, geographic location, or age. Fractions mean the same in Iowa and Alabama as they do in California and Texas. For my fifth grader this means setting the goal of learning the basics of algebraic thinking, understanding fractions, geometric measurement and analyzing patterns and relationships (quoted directly from the curriculum guidelines). What is wrong with setting clear goals and objective that have been developed with the input of future employers like the companies mentioned above? Nothing.
Perhaps it is good that Common Core has been attacked by conservatives and progressives alike, but as the Alton School Board rejects Common Core it is worthwhile to note that according to the yearly NECAP Mathematical And Reading test results, Alton Elementary schools ranked 177 out of 219 in the state and fell 23 spots from the previous year. Meanwhile, Alton Middle Schools ranked 74 out of 126 and fell 15 spots in the same year.
Unless there is a better alternative that can be implemented immediately, I urge everyone with school-aged children to cautiously embrace Common Core, take an active role in your childs' education and refrain from crying that "the sky is falling." At the first sign of some subversive agenda you will be the first to know and you will be in the perfect position to shout to the rooftops with clear evidence of some Orwellian agenda. In the meantime, my hunch is that you may find your child is better prepared to take on the challenges of the 21st century. After all, nothing is more powerful than an enlightened, engaged and enthusiastic parent in a childs' life.
Last Updated on Friday, 20 September 2013 10:27
To The Daily Sun,
Responding to a recent article entitled, "Tea Party Takes Aim at Alton Workforce Housing Initiative", I am inspired to respond.
First of all, this title is WRONG. This meeting was a citizen forum of over 70 people strong, who came together to hear about Alton and workforce housing. This event was hosted by the Alton Business Association and was NOT a Tea Party event. To imply it was not an honest forum to discuss an important town issue is deliberately misinforming the public. Indeed, it was the Alton Town Planner, Ken McWilliams who requested this meeting! It had NOTHING to do with the Tea Party.
Now, the Tea Party has long been the "whipping boy" of the progressive left. The largest divisions of our government have demonized all liberty groups, as is the case with the current ONGOING IRS scandal. Using its governmental power with a complicit media, the ultimate goal is to marginalize CITIZENS VOICING THEIR CONCERNS against an ever-encroaching federal government into our local communities.
I agree with everything I have heard from the Tea Party movement. I am not a "member". But, perhaps I will become one in the future. In the meantime, I suggest we hold our local press accountable to the standard of not participating in the lefts' mission to marginalize and propagandize what is an honorable organization, borne of a grassroots movement against government overreach.
I invite all citizens who are interested, to join the Alton Business Association on Sept. 25, 6 p.m. at the Gilman Museum to discuss the issue of Workforce Housing in our communities. We welcome ALL discussion and hope to see you there.
Rep. Jane Cormier
Belknap District 8
Last Updated on Friday, 20 September 2013 10:21