Burial is best solution for Northern Pass

Will Northern Pass follow in the path of Hydro-Quebec?


To the editor: I appreciate that Martin Murray, in his July 13 response ("N.H.'s economic future needs projects like Northern Pass") to my article in NHBR ("Northern Pass risks region reaping benefits of economic change," June 29-July 12 issue), finds the topic of the Fifth Migration and its potential to revive the economic health of New Hampshire's small towns is worthy of debate.

I am, however, dismayed that all he took from it was the impression seniors would flee the state at the sight of towers as if New Hampshire is only one big retirement community. Mr. Murray seems to miss the point that economic and social vibrancy for small towns will come from the migration of young professionals investing in these communities. Offering cash payment in exchange for our future independent potential is no trade-off.

Mr. Murray also avoids a main point: that burying the transmission lines (as is being done elsewhere on Hydro-Quebec projects) would help mitigate the negative effects of this project in our ability to shape our own economic prospects. By burying the project along public corridors, New Hampshire could still reap all those wonderful economic benefits he claims the project will deliver.

I find it ironic that Northern Pass refuses to consider this when Hydro-Quebec's own literature extol the virtues and benefits of burial – from its affordability from new technologies, to the aesthetic impact on our landscapes, to reducing the cost and economic impact from storm damage. Or is this because the only route being considered is the more expensive and vulnerable route over private land and through the mountains – the only route from which PSNH may extract rental payments at the financial hardship to the thousands of businesses, landowners and abutters along the route?

I am also surprised the unions do not support burial along pubic corridors. Supporting this shows a willingness to work with so many of our small businesses and fellow citizens to find common ground – something that can only enhance their opportunity for moving forward rather than risk it being stalled. It could also, I suspect, lead to even more jobs for their members while protecting the very assets that will help sustain growth in the state for decades to come by continuing to make it a desired location. This has to be the better option for the workers of New Hampshire.

What event will ultimately make Northern Pass determine that burial was in their better interest after all? Will it be economic, when downed lines from a storm in the White Mountains create economic havoc for their clients in Massachusetts and Connecticut with industry and government leaders calling for the heads of officials at Northern Pass and Northeast Utilities? Or will it be human tragedy when the line comes down near that young family's home in Deerfield that sits less than 20 yards from the line (or the countless others along the route), and 1,200 megawatts of electricity are dancing about their lawn?

Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion