Bill Would Designate Optional Highway Corridors for New Transmission Lines
The Boston Globe reported in February that the hydroelectric companies operating in the Northeast have united to form the Massachusetts Clean Electricity Partnership. The initiative’s primary goal is to ensure the Massachusetts Legislature approves Gov. Charlie Baker’s pro-hydro bill. The Baker bill calls for contracts that would bring as much as 2,400 megawatts into Massachusetts. Furthermore, several energy companies — including most members of the Clean Electricity Partnership — have filed proposals to supply “clean energy” to Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
Should we in New Hampshire care about these efforts? Absolutely yes. Which state sits in between Quebec and Massachusetts? It is certain that at least one more large energy transmission project designed to carry power from Canada to southern New England will be proposed in the near future. New Hampshire needs to be ready for this looming reality.
Fortunately, several members of the New Hampshire Legislature have recognized the challenge and impacts to our state from such a project. Reps Howard Moffett, Suzanne Smith, Sue Ford and Gene Chandler are pushing a bill, HB 626, that would establish optional and voluntary designated energy infrastructure corridors using the Interstate Highway (I-89, I-93 and I-95) rights-of way, as well as Route 101 from Manchester to the Seacoast. While the bill does not mandate an energy developer use one of the designated corridors, the legislation represents a common-sense approach to balancing the region’s needs for energy while mitigating adverse impacts on our state’s most scenic natural landscapes and on private property owners.
The full NH House of Representatives passed the bill in January. Now that the House has given its approval to this important policy change for our state, the House Finance Committee must review the fiscal impact the policy will have on the State budget. Let’s encourage the Finance Committee to swiftly approve it. After all, energy companies may soon come knocking on New Hampshire’s door.