N.H. should take a pass on Northern Pass

Public Service of New Hampshire just can’t stop denying the obvious. You won’t see their high-voltage towers, even when they’re outside your kitchen window. Nor will your property values drop once the 135-foot tower interrupts that “million-dollar view” you pay taxes on. Oh, and by the way, Northern Pass is about renewable energy, not about profit.
Landowners Jim and Sandy Dannis, who spent over $5,000 to get an independent appraisal, were told that if the proposed Northern Pass HVDC transmission lines bisect their 135 acres, their land value would drop by 60 to 90 percent. PSNH attacked the Dannis’ appraisal report, but would not share their own.”All we can figure out is that their own appraisal would also show huge value declines. So of course they want to hide it,” observes Jim.PSNH insists the independent appraisal is faulty, with this explanation from their public relations man: “We are in the process of developing material to give them an honest overview of what a high-voltage transmission line would mean.” Right.These are the same people who assured us electricity from the Seabrook nuclear plants would be “too cheap to meter.” The choice we faced was between “a hot bath and a cold shower,” or as another full-page ad put it, “a cooked meal or cold food.”Aggressive deception has long been their style.Trust us, they insist. They, Hydro Quebec, NSTAR and Northeast Utilities, intend to improve the Granite State by creating a new high-voltage electric corridor with towers up to 135 feet in height along 180 miles of northern and central New Hampshire.The fact is there is no need for this electricity in New Hampshire in the first place. We now produce more than we consume and export the excess power. National Grid already has a corridor from Hydro-Quebec through New Hampshire to the New England market. Northeast Utilities wants their own corridor so they can destroy any competition and eliminate any competition from any New England-based, smaller, decentralized, and truly green energy projects – for decades to come.They insist Northern Pass will bring jobs. The fact is most of the jobs would be temporary, and most would be filled by specialists from out of state. Any short-term boost would be much more than offset by major long-term losses to northern New Hampshire’s economy, which is primarily tourism-based.Once again, the big guys intend to own all the power. And not just electric power. For many decades, PSNH has acted like they own this state. They’ve never hesitated to trumpet their charitable contributions. They’ve relied on their power over the Legislature.It is a question of power, both electric and political. PSNH has a long history of reliance on massive, capital-intensive projects. Now they want to wipe out the competition from more appropriate decentralized power sources. What PSNH is fighting so hard against is the creation of long-term jobs supporting smaller, decentralized, environmentally welcome generating facilities.The electric parallels the political: Who should make the decisions for our future? The concentrated, centralized few or the genuinely democratic old-fashioned we, the people? We deserve much better than a state government of, by and for selfish, greedy and manipulative corporate interests like PSNH.The overall question regarding Northern Pass, and New Hampshire’s future in general, is: Who is our government serving? Public opinion is solidly against the proposal – and it will be up to our elected officials to find the right way to rein in PSNH/NU and change the outcome, securing a genuinely diverse source of power, one that actually benefits New Hampshire.State senator from 1990 to 2004, Burt Cohen hosts a radio show, “The Burt Cohen Show,” which can be heard on WSCA-FM and atTheBurtCohenShow.com.

Categories: Opinion