The Northern Pass Opposition has developed a brochure to gear up for HB648 and the fall legislative term. We are urging people to copy the brochure (use black and white although the brochure has color- unless you are able to pay for the addition of color). Help spread the word and get others involved in contacting our senators to pass HB648 and prevent Northern Pass from using eminent domain for private merchant transmission lines and for profit.
NORTHERN PASS TRANSMISSION LINE PROJECT – BIGGEST LAND GRAB IN NH HISTORY
On November 16, 2010, Northern Pass Transmission LLC (NP) applied for a Presidential Permit to construct an electric transmission line across the United States border with Canada. This proposed 180-mile line, which is being funded entirely by Hydro Quebec, a wholly-owned corporation of the Province of Quebec, would run DC electricity from Quebec to Franklin, NH, where it would be converted into AC. From there it would run to Deerfield, NH, where it would hook into the New England regional grid. The Presidential Permit is first in a series of permits that must be approved in order for this transmission line to be built. For the first 40 miles of the route, new right of way (ROW) would have to be taken; and for the remainder of the route, 26 miles of the present ROW is identified as needing to be widened in order to accommodate the taller (approximately 135 ft. steel lattice) towers.
Since the moment the controversial project was announced, the opposition from property owners along the route has been vocal and heated. On the first 40 miles, where no ROW presently exists, the opposition came fast and furious. Many property owners in Coos County have fought back hard, refusing to agree to sell their land even while NP representatives have threatened to expropriate their property by eminent domain. Along the rest of the present ROW, there has been mounting opposition as well. The project will need 66 miles of ROWs either voluntarily or by eminent domain – a shocking figure. The proposed route goes right through some of the most scenic and awe-inspiring views of the White Mountains; crosses the White Mountain National Forest and the Appalachian Hiking Trail; disturbs the views in tourist centers such as Sugar Hill, Lincoln, and Holderness; passes through some of our best farmland; and in essence bisects the entire state, altering the character and beauty of New Hampshire forever.
New Hampshire has an opportunity to stop this project, but we must act now. First we must under-stand what is at stake and then we have to speak up and demand that our government represent the people of this state, not corporations that do not have our interests at heart.
EMINENT DOMAIN AND HOUSE BILL 648
Promoters of Northern Pass have threatened landowners along the proposed route with eminent domain if they do not voluntarily forfeit their property for the transmission lines. We believe it is clear that NP will not qualify to use eminent domain because it is a private development project. Threatening the use of eminent domain against resistant property owners is a profoundly dishonest and unethical method of attempting to gain access to private property, not for public need but for corporate profit. That’s a poster child violation of Article 12-a of NH’s constitution, which prohibits eminent domain for private development projects.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed HB 648 to protect citizens by updating current statutes to make them consistent with Article 12-a. HB 648 makes it clear that eminent domain can’t be used for private transmission line projects that are not in response to any regulatory finding of need. HB 648 will be scheduled for a vote in the senate in early 2012, and its passage is critical because if NP is granted the power of eminent domain, other privately funded, for-profit utility projects such as gas or water pipelines and other transmission lines would be eligible for the same privileges. There are several optional, for-profit utility projects awaiting the approval of NP to release their plans for future projects which would necessitate the taking of private property.
Northern Pass promoters have tried to scare our lawmakers into voting against HB 648 with language such as “unintended consequences” if it passes. The real unintended con-sequences will occur if it doesn’t pass – No property owner in the state will be safe from property taking by a utility company without the protection of strong eminent domain laws in New Hampshire.
In Northern Pass’s sponsor’s own words, the lines aren’t needed to keep the lights on. This is an optional project thought up by Hydro-Quebec and PSNH to make more money, an estimated $50 billion of sales revenues for Hydro-Quebec and a new money stream for the financial basket case known as PSNH.
Northern Pass was not requested by any regulator, was not designed under the regional transmission needs planning process, is not in the regional customer rate base, and is for the exclusive use of Hydro-Quebec. It masquerades as a public utility, but it’s the very definition of a private development project.
Walmart doesn’t get eminent domain to build a new store. A wind farm developer doesn’t get eminent domain to take land on a ridgeline. The proposed biomass plant in Berlin doesn’t get eminent domain to assemble the land for their project. They all deal on a voluntary, consensual basis with property owners. If they can’t buy the necessary land, then they can’t do their project. That’s how the private sector works in America.
And Northern Pass is no different. A private business project, including one in the energy sector, is not entitled to eminent domain. When PSNH and Hydro-Quebec baselessly and abusively threaten NH families with involuntary government seizures of their homes and land for the benefit of a private business project, the design details really don’t matter.
Time to Fight Back, New Hampshire
Alert! NH is being invaded by an out of state power company and a foreign government! PSNH, now a fully owned component of Northeast Utilities of Connecticut, is traveling the State, trying to convince the citizens of NH that Northern Pass (NP), a proposed power line project stretching all the way from the Canadian border to Deerfield, is good for NH. Don’t believe it! The only people who will benefit from this line will be the stock holders of Northeast Utilities and the government of Quebec.
NP will create 1200 jobs
Reality: Temporary during construction, none promised to NH workers
NP will pay taxes
Reality: More than offset by declining property taxes
NH needs the power
Reality: NH exports excess power
NE needs the power
Reality: NE has 20% extra capacity
NP power is renewable
Reality: EPA & NH law say not so
NP power is cheaper
Reality: Maybe 97 cents a month
Reality: Destruction of NH’s renewable power industry
NP says power reliable
Reality: Not during drought/extreme cold/ice storms
NP won’t affect home sales
Reality: Homes near power lines unmarketable
- NP will use eminent domain to seize private property over large segments of the line.
- PSNH is destroying the renewable industry in NH by not renewing supply contracts.
- Giant, 135-foot steel towers every 800 feet for 180 miles will ruin scenery, permanently.
- Once NP has a right of way you can expect more lines of towers. NH a power corridor!
- Ruined scenery equals loss of visitors, loss of jobs and ruined real estate markets.
Towns all along the ROW voted overwhelmingly in this year’s town meetings to oppose the Northern Pass Project. Various organizations have spoken out in opposition including The Society for the Protection of NH Forests, Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Law Foundation, The Appalachian Mountain Club, Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust, Conservation NH, and Sierra Club.
“It is time for Hydro-Quebec officials… and PSNH officials to fold their tent on this project and go home! AND, for PSNH to buy local electrical power!” – Ray Burton, Executive Counsel
“If the communities of New Hampshire don’t want the project, I won’t support it.” – Governor John Lynch
“Let us keep New Hampshire so those who follow in our footsteps will enjoy it as much as we have.” – J.C.
Kenneth Poore, historian and farmer, 96 yrs old in 1982 in a letter to the NH Site Evaluation Committee opposing the Power Line proposed at the time.
“No other rights are safe where property is not safe.” – Daniel Webster, NH native and Senator
“Live free or die.” – Revolutionary War General John Stark, NH native