Northern Pass Editorial

The following editorial, written by New Hampshire Sierra Club Director Catherine Corkery, appeared in the Laconia Citizen on November 13, 2015.

Northern Pass: A Burden Too Heavy for NH

New Hampshire Sierra Club urges our state to choose a clean energy future and wholly reject Northern Pass, above or below ground.

The raw story is that in 2010, Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH), now Eversource, announced a project, if built, to transmit electricity generated in Canada and owned by the Province of Quebec for sale to buyers in the Northeast grid. A Province of Quebec owned company, Hydro Quebec, has dammed waterways, flooding vast land areas to generate the electricity. In order to market the electricity, Hydro Quebec proposes to finance the construction of a transmission line though New Hampshire on easements owned by Eversource over private property. This is Northern Pass.

PSNH acquired the easements over 75 years ago using ratepayer money to bring electricity to remote areas of New Hampshire from its fossil fuel power plants in Portsmouth and Bow, 115kV of alternating current (AC). Some of these land easements were acquired for as little as $20 per acre – because of the public good and demonstrated need for electricity.

Eversource, proposes to rent the old easements to serve as an electricity transmission corridor for the private line. The transmission corridor will require tall steel towers as high as 135 feet.

From Pittsburg to Franklin, the transmitted electricity is high voltage direct current (DC), as high as 600 kV, and when on the old easements will be next to the existing 115 kV AC lines. In Franklin, a 21 acre converter station will transform the DC to AC. The second section of 345 kV of AC transmission towers will run again alongside existing transmission and distribution lines from Franklin to Deerfield. Remember – the new Northern Pass lines will be next to the existing ones because they are entirely separate systems.

New Hampshire Sierra Club opposes Northern Pass because it will burden property owners and the local economy; it is not environmentally or people friendly; and, we have faster, cheaper and more effective options. 

Property owners over 75 years ago agreed to the easements with PSNH to provide needed electricity to New Hampshire schools, farms, businesses, and homes. They never included a high voltage transmission superhighway from Canada. The easements simply do not allow Northern Pass, above or below ground.

Hydro Quebec is not pollution-free power.The initial flooding and resulting reservoir produces both CO2 and methane. According to Hydro Quebec’s own studies, the CO2 emissions are as high as 70% of a natural gas power plant. The EPA says methane is 25 times worse than carbon dioxide. The flooded reservoirs also accelerates mercury releases rendering the fish too poisonous for consumption.

Large scale dams are dangerous for people too. The displacement and harassment of the native communities by the Quebec Government with contentious contracts and decades long lawsuits is well documented. Besides, there is no guarantee that Hydro Quebec will stop flooding rivers and valleys. The Northern Pass can only encourage more.

The losses for New Hampshire pile up in property values, tourism, and our economy. Property values suffer under the shadows of massive transmission line infrastructure. This is a significant burden to property owners.

The onerous aesthetic of wires crossing otherwise bucolic scenes of fall foliage and snow covered vistas will adversely harm our tourism economy. Currently, the forests and farmland, the charming steeples, and flowing rivers and streams are unbridled by massive infrastructure; as such, they are treasured by all who come.

New Hampshire should reject Northern Pass and focus on our energy needs. Last year, hundreds of New Hampshire residents helped develop The NH 10 Year Energy Strategy with the Governor’s Office of Energy and Planning. It is our starting place. The Strategy recommends exactly where and how we can improve the way we use choose, use and save energy. Northern Pass, if built, will delay progress toward our agreed upon goals.

Buried or left above ground, Northern Pass is a bad deal for New Hampshire. The time is now to invest in energy saving programs, like energy efficiency, weatherizaon, and distributed energy, that will address in our energy demands, promote skilled job growth here, and make our state better than we inherited it. Don’t waste this opportunity.

NHSC is asking landowners along the existing Eversource easement, or rights of way, to send a copy of the documents so that we can evaluate the language and intent of the rights of the landowners. Please send to or New Hampshire Sierra Club, 40 North Main Street, 2nd Floor, Concord, NH 03301. We appreciate everyone’s participation.