Northern Pass is wrong for New Hampshire

As Republicans, we often talk about the need for an “all of the above” energy strategy for our state and our country. I have always advocated for developing all of our energy resources — oil, gas, clean coal, nuclear, solar, wind and hydro — to power our communities and our economy.

It is through that filter that I evaluate questions regarding energy issues, including whether or not Northern Pass is right for New Hampshire.

Northern Pass is an electricity transmission plan that, if approved, would run through New Hampshire for 192 miles, from the Canadian border to Deerfield. It would transfer electricity generated by hydroelectric dams in Quebec for distribution into the regional New England electric grid. Eversource, the company proposing to construct Northern Pass, has waged an expensive legal, political and communications effort — in the neighborhood of $250 million — to attempt to influence opinions and win state approval of this project.

While I’ve never publicly taken sides in this debate, as the Site Evaluation Committee prepares to deliberate, and I once again review the facts of Northern Pass, I have to say, I really don’t like it. At least, not for New Hampshire.

The sole purpose of Northern Pass is to carry electricity through New Hampshire to southern New England. Expert testimony before the Site Evaluation Committee confirmed that whether you believe the position taken by Northern Pass or its opponents, the truth is Northern Pass will do virtually nothing to lower our electric rates.

I also question the promised jobs. I don’t discount the potential value of the jobs that Northern Pass promises, but that value is fleeting, as the vast majority of those jobs are temporary.

Most distressing is imagining the Northern Pass lines running through some of the most beautiful areas of our state. Massive transmission towers will be constructed in otherwise pristine forests, mountain ranges, farms and rural settings. Construction will cause enormous disruption in our small North Country towns that, already too often left behind economically, cannot afford additional loss.

What’s more, the impact isn’t limited to the North Country. Northern Pass has proposed towers in Concord that would be taller than our State House and visible from much of downtown.

Finally, New Hampshire simply does not want Northern Pass. Of over 3,000 public comments submitted to the Site Evaluation Committee, 95 percent — yes, 95 percent — oppose it. Nearly every community along the proposed route for transmission towers and power lines has spoken up to oppose the project, while business and community leaders from across the state have done the same.

And, in a rare case of a truly bipartisan coalition, opposition to Northern Pass crosses all political lines. The people I know who oppose this destructive
 roject are pro-Sanders and pro-Trump; they are liberal, conservative and
 ibertarian and they represent all
 ocioeconomic segments of our communities.

If we have learned anything from the 2016 elections, it’s that our citizens are tired of being ignored by government leaders and are rightfully demanding their voices be heard.

I’m a conservative who believes passionately in the need to expand our energy resources, but this is not the right way to do it. Northern Pass will do irreparable damage to our beautiful state. Northern Pass is wrong for New Hampshire, and I urge the Site Evaluation Committee to reject its application. 

Jennifer Horn is a former NH Republican Party chair and was the 2008 Republican 2nd Congressional District nominee.

Categories: Opinion