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Northern Pass: Its plan comes out ahead

12 Aug

Northern Pass LLC officials said they “welcome” a competing project, but noted their $1.1 billion project would not rely on subsidies, comes from a reliable, existing source of power and would not face the challenge of installing an underground line in rocky New England.

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Comments from the article

Jim Dannis said:

Competition is good.

In the current race between three private transmission line proposals in our region — Northeast Energy Link (NEL), Champlain Hudson Express and Northern Pass — NP is several laps back, gasping for breath and likely to drop out before the finish line.

And when a loser (Northern Pass and PSNH) shouts out “I am winning”, that proves they are losing.

NEL (Northeast Energy Link) and CHE (Champlain Hudson Express) propose to use modern technology and bury their lines along highway and rail ROWs or underwater. You won’t see the lines, and they won’t ruin landscapes. Smart move.

But Northern Pass insists on archaic, visually-jarring, property-value destroying 135′ above ground towers and lines. Dumb move.

Why? It’s all about PSNH and money.

PSNH (the company whose breathtaking mismanagement has popularized the term “death spiral”) desperately needs new money. Their plants are outdated and above-market and customers are leaving in droves. So they want to monetize their existing transmission corridor.

PSNH wants to take its existing transmission line right of way (from Groveton through the White Mountains and down to southern NH) and offer it to the highest bidder (Hydro Quebec) regardless of the damage to New Hampshire.

That’s why Northern Pass stonewalls all sensible alternative routes. PSNH fights ferociously against any other location for the new lines. PSNH, for its own financial reasons, desperately needs Northern Pass to use the existing PSNH corridor, even though this makes zero sense for the state.

And if you use the existing corridor, through the mountains, of course stuff like burial becomes more expensive than if the lines were routed on highways or rail beds. When PSNH says burial is too expensive, it’s because they flat out refuse to look at burying the lines in sensible places.

Take a step back. If for some reason you wanted to put a big new transmission line through New Hampshire, wouldn’t you choose the NEL and CHE approach, and use highways and rail beds (already level, graded, with gravel base) to bury the lines? Wouldn’t that be the best way to achieve your business goals and at the same time preserve NH’s beauty and build public support?

Our state’s elected and appointed officials need to put their foot down, and they will. Locating new HVDC lines on PSNH’s existing ROW make no sense for New Hampshire. Giving in to PSNH’s greed is a bad trade for the state.

NEL and CHE show the better way. That’s why Northern Pass will lose.

August 9, 2011 7:28 am

Susan Schibanoff said:

In its website blog yesterday, Northern Pass admitted to some fuzzy math mistakes in calculating its Deerfield tax revenue figure. It won’t be $1.8 million after all, it will be $718, 000, maybe. That lowers Deerfield’s “maybe” tax revenue benefit by 60% and the project’s overall “maybe” tax revenue benefits to $23.9 million. There may-be more such “revision” and “refinement,” NP warns.
Maybe for your town too?

Corporate must now instruct everybody to start using the new lower figures. NP’s comparison table still claims the $25 million benefit, and it just made its way into the above UL article:

“Northern Pass LLC officials also noted that there are unknown new tax revenues from NEL, while the Northern Pass project would mean $25 million a year for the first year to cities and towns along its 180-mile route.”

Northern Pass also needs to revise its Presidential Permit application and its WMNF Special Use Permit application to reflect the new lower figures. When the DOE and WMNF start thinking about the “public good” of the project, they should at least have up-to-date “maybe” figures.

One more thing. When NP makes those amendments to its applications, they should also add that these claimed benefits are for the FIRST YEAR ONLY. The big “D” soon goes to work: depreciation. The “public good” also depreciates substantially. My town tax collector just laughs when we ask if we get much tax money from the 6.5 miles of PSNH poles that run through our town now.

For a “robust” (i.e., honest) prediction of “public good,” Northern Pass might also want to add the offsets from property devaluation and resulting tax abatements. The one solid figure out there is the certified appraisal showing a 60-90% drop for three parcels of property near or under the proposed lines in Dalton.

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