New Law Gives Northern Pass an Opportunity
The contentious six-year (and counting) history of Northern Pass has, in the absence of other positive outcomes, at least crystalized the debate over the related questions of how much energy does New Hampshire need, on what generating sources should we all rely and how do we get that power to the consumers. In fact, HB 626, which the Legislature passed and the Governor recently signed into law, aims to address that third issue: the manner in which energy is transported to, and through, New Hampshire.
As has been well-documented, the Forest Society’s primary objection to Northern Pass centers on its impacts to our state’s iconic landscapes and unique natural resources. But suppose the State provided an energy developer the option to locate their project within specified state-owned transportation rights of way. Could the divisive argument over Northern Pass been avoided? Would the energy developer meet far less public resistance? Would the project in question get swifter permitting decisions from federal and state regulators? Would private property owners be insulated from significant decreases in the value of their homes and land? Would the State receive much needed revenue to support improvements and maintenance to its transportation system? Would the residents in New Hampshire and throughout New England see the benefit of more electrons into the power grid here? We believe the answer to all those questions is a resounding yes.
Throughout the public hearings on Northern Pass, project supporters have frequently used the term “balance” to back up their case. The enactment of HB 626 now offers Northern Pass the opportunity to present a truly balanced project, a completely buried line along a designated transportation corridor. By choosing to take advantage of this new state policy, Northern Pass would avoid scarring the state’s natural beauty, devaluing private property and unnecessarily disturbing over 140 acres of wetland resources from Pittsburg to Deerfield. Will project developers choose this new opportunity? With enough encouragement, now they can!