‘The Walking Dead,’ Northern Pass edition
For the past several years, it has been hard to miss the show about undead, horrid-looking zombies shuffling along rural back roads seeking to feed their insatiable appetites. No, not “The Walking Dead” but, rather, “Northern Pass: the Towers That Wouldn’t Die.”
Eight years have passed since Northern Pass and its enormous towers were first introduced to New Hampshire. In classic Eversource fashion, the proposal was long on arrogance and short on common sense. Who else would have the audacity to propose building new 100-foot-plus tall towers through the heart of our beloved Franconia Notch? The same Eversource that was shocked — shocked! — at the fierce opposition that quickly emerged against the project, and stunned that their proposal to build an enormous extension cord through nearly 200 miles of New Hampshire for the benefit of Massachusetts wasn’t readily accepted by Granite Staters.
The coalition that formed in opposition to Northern Pass years ago was uniquely New Hampshire — broadly bipartisan, with a healthy mix of business, community and individual leaders and thousands upon thousands of rank-and-file citizens inspired to stand up and be heard with the fate of New Hampshire’s landscape and way of life on the line. That coalition stands firm to this day, strongly opposing Northern Pass.
In February, the Site Evaluation Committee rejected the project’s application. The members of this committee are from our state government as well as the general public, all well-respected and highly regarded in their fields. The SEC considered Northern Pass’ best case, presented by their expensive attorneys, consultants and experts. They carefully listened to dozens of witnesses, and considered thousands of documents and thousands of public comments — 95 percent of which are opposed to the project.
And after all of that, the SEC voted unanimously to deny Northern Pass its site certificate. The evidence presented to the SEC was overwhelming that, if built:
• Northern Pass would create a permanent scar through some of our state’s most pristine areas.
• Northern Pass would significantly harm tourism and small business in our North Country.
• Northern Pass would seriously disrupt the downtowns of a number of our communities, harming commerce and the local economy.
• Northern Pass would carry power for Massachusetts, not New Hampshire.
• Northern Pass would do virtually nothing to lower our electric rates.
Now the SEC process, which only a few months ago Eversource senior officials described as “very judicious” and “very comprehensive,” is under attack by the same company because Eversource doesn’t like the result. But anyone objectively reading the SEC’s thorough and impressively detailed 287-page written order issued March 30 rejecting Northern Pass would probably agree with Eversource — the SEC process is “very judicious” and “very comprehensive.”
As the saying goes, Eversource is entitled to its own opinion but not its own facts.
The fact is, Northern Pass is like a zombie — a dead project walking — lurching through the landscape in search of gullible people to consume who are willfully blind to the truth.
Today, all but the most avid fans of “The Walking Dead” will admit it is time to pull the plug on the show, which has gotten stale and long in the tooth. The same is true of Northern Pass, whose dwindling band of fans contort themselves to justify the project’s continuing existence.
Enough is enough. Rick, Michonne and Daryl may continue on, but once and for all, it is time for Northern Pass to go.
Judy Reardon is senior advisor to Protect the Granite State and a former senior advisor and legal counsel to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.