Northern Pass Using Forward NH Fund as Cudgel
Jamie Sayen could be the bravest man in Coos County. Why? Sayen had
the courage to tell the truth about what Eversource is doing to his area.
His forthright account efficiently and truthfully described the extreme pressure applied to the North Country Chamber of Commerce by representatives of Eversource and its partner, the Balsams.
Perceiving a threat of the “death” of the Balsams project and exclusion from Forward N.H. largesse if they did not go along, the chamber board, a Site Evaluation Committee intervener, succumbed to the pressure and notified the SEC it was changing from opposed to “neutral.”
Published accounts reveal that the Colebrook select board and North Country legislators were subjected to the same treatment.
From the beginning, Northern Pass has used its seemingly endless supply of money to get what it wants. We are all human, and we are all susceptible to offers of money that will enhance our lives or our communities or our businesses.
Northern Pass exploits this human susceptibility to advance its divide-and-conquer strategy with liberal applications of money or the promise of money. The so-called “Forward New Hampshire” fund is the latest in a series of efforts by Eversource to bend the public to its will.
Offered to meet the new SEC public interest requirement, Forward N.H. is used by Northern Pass to buy support when it cannot get it any other way.
The Appalachian Mountain Club, in its comment on the Department of Energy’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, described Forward N.H. succinctly: “It is primarily a slush fund to enable Northern Pass to direct funding to where it most needs to bolster support or meet its internal needs.”
Who will receive Forward N.H. funds and what do they have to do to get the cash?
Recent events at the Colebrook select board and the North Country Chamber of Commerce make that clearer. Apparently, those who play ball with Northern Pass and its partners are in the running; others are not.
The pressure is building as the SEC process unfolds, perhaps because Eversource was stung by the large number of interveners opposing its project. The successful “flip” of the two groups from opposed to “neutral” is an object lesson in intimidation.
One wonders how badly the SEC process is going for them if Northern Pass is so desperate it needs to interfere with interveners in an ongoing permit docket simply to move them from opposed to neutral.
Less clear is when, if ever, Forward N.H. will actually dispense these funds. The permitting process will drag on for years.
Whatever way the SEC process goes, the “loser” will appeal to the N.H. Supreme Court. There will be multiple lawsuits – we are looking at years of legal wrangling. The unholy quid pro quo that makes its funding contingent upon final approval means that those who expect to receive cash from Forward N.H. should expect to wait. A long time. A Red Sox long time.
Meanwhile, Northern Pass will have cynically leveraged the hopes and dreams of the North Country to advance its own purposes in the most callous fashion.
(Nancy Martland lives in Sugar Hill.)