Opinion: Northern Pass Appeal Ignores Wishes of NH People

AUTHOR: Michelle Sanborn

Eversource recently appealed to New Hampshire’s Supreme Court, contesting the Site Evaluation Committee’s (SEC) denial of Northern Pass. This appeal was expected by those in the NH community rights movement because when corporations don’t get the answers they want, they challenge the decision-making system, with only required consideration for the wishes of people affected by a proposed project.

This kind of corporate jockeying is par for the course in a state and federal decision-making system made up of a web of regulatory agencies that operate not to protect people and planet but to facilitate corporate applications like that for Northern Pass. Were the system truly designed to protect rather than to facilitate, local people affected by proposed corporate projects would sit at the decision-making table with real authority, not merely with permission to make token public comments regarding their local needs.

Corporations like Eversource take advantage of this clear imbalance in determining power. In the case of Northern Pass’s SEC process, Eversource condescended to communities all along the way. Anyone opposed was disregarded as biased—as anti-progress, anti-“clean energy,” anti-supposedly reduced energy costs and anti-jobs. Dismissed were the voices of the people on the ground who would feel the real effects of the project where they live—effects including long-term disruption of their human communities and the ecosystems therein.

True, people spoke out against Northern Pass despite their mere advisory capacity, and true, the SEC denied the project application. But the two are not correlated. The SEC did not deny Northern Pass because the people didn’t want it. Nor did the SEC deny it because it wasn’t good for New Hampshire’s people, economy, or environment. Had either been the case, the SEC would have denied Northern Pass long ago, for the people clearly and vocally haven’t wanted it for some 8 years.

The SEC denied the project because the application didn’t meet the required criteria. If the application had met all the criteria, then the SEC would have been legally obligated to approve it because the SEC, like all regulatory agencies, is in place to facilitate the operating of corporate projects. Period.

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Granite State Poll Shows Record Opposition to Northern Pass

Opposition to Northern Pass among New Hampshire residents is at an all-time high, according to a new Granite State Poll.

The poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center found that 47 percent of respondents opposed the proposed electrical transmission line, the highest level recorded since polling began on this question in 2011 and the fifth consecutive increase in opposition.

Only 27 percent expressed support, a record low in approval rating. Support for Northern Pass in this poll has greatly declined over the past five years; dropping 20 percentage points.

The remaining 25 percent polled were neutral or expressed no opinion.

“Overall, support for Northern Pass has fallen since February while opposition has continued to increase,” said Andrew E. Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center. “Particularly striking is the intensity of opposition: those who strongly oppose the project now outnumber those who somewhat or strongly support it. And while there remains a gap between Republicans, Independents, and Democrats in New Hampshire, opposition to Northern Pass has increased among all three groups over the past two years.”

Catherine Corkery, Chapter Director of the NH Sierra Club, said the results are just the latest indication of the lack of support for Northern Pass.

“These numbers support what opponents of the project have been saying for years: Northern Pass is not wanted throughout the Granite State,” Corkery said. “Stretching out the failed Northern Pass project appeal will further burden the courts, the state, the property owners, and the ratepayers who somewhere down the line will be left holding the bag. When will Eversource understand that no means no?”

Corkery said the strong opposition numbers in the poll, as well as the recent unanimous rejection of the Northern Pass application by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, make it clear that it is time for Eversource to admit defeat on this fundamentally flawed project.

The telephone poll of 505 residents was conducted from July 9-August 1. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

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Northern Pass Asks Court to Force Reconsideration of Transmission Project

SOURCE: New Hampshire Union Leader
AUTHOR: Michael Cousineau

Northern Pass submitted an appeal to the state Supreme Court on Friday in an effort to force a state committee to reconsider its rejection of the proposed $1.6 billion hydroelectric transmission line.

“If allowed to stand, the orders will erect major obstacles to the siting of new energy projects in this state, as the process becomes a popularity contest instead of one bound by the rule of law,” the 150-page appeal said.

The state Site Evaluation Committee unanimously rejected the project on Feb. 1, and on May 24 rejected requests to reconsider its decision and resume deliberations.

The 192-mile Northern Pass route, which includes 60 miles underground, would run from Pittsburg to Deerfield through more than 30 communities.

“It sure sounds like the last gasp of a dead project,” said project foe Jack Savage, vice president of communications and outreach with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

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