Northern Pass Update

Please Contact Russ Prescott today by phone or email and tell him , yes , tell him to vote YES for this amendment which will limit eminent domain use for energy projects in NH. I am rushed today and cannot post a lengthy list right now of reasons  for  stopping Northern Pass, but it must be done.

If you want to support our neighbors to the North you will email Prescott tonight, the vote is tomorrow.

Vote Yes on HB648

Email or call your State Senator

Russ Prescott 603-271-3074

represcott@represcott.com

More information here.

More later  on this bonehead project.

Bury the Northern Pass

UPDATE 1/19/12

From the AP

CONCORD, N.H.—The New Hampshire Senate has postponed a vote on a contentious bill aimed at restricting the use of eminent domain in building a 180-mile power line from Canada to southern New Hampshire.

The House-passed bill stems from concerns that project builder Northern Pass might use eminent domain.

The Senate was going to consider at least two competing amendments. The Judiciary Committee endorsed an amendment that would create more hurdles for developers looking to use eminent domain but does not forbid its use.

Senate President Peter Bragdon, of Milford, and Sen. Jeanie Forrester, of Meredith, proposed an amendment that expands the House version from banning transmission facilities like Northern Pass to encompass all private developments.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill Jan. 25.

UPDATE Victory

Email from the North Country

Bury Northern Pass Comments

Good news often travels more slowly than bad, so in case you have not heard, the Senate passed HB 648 today. The “test” vote was 16-8; the final vote came in at a nearly unanimous 23-1. The bill is now being reconciled between the House and Senate and then must go to the governor for signing into law.

In an eloquent statement introducing the Bragdon/Forrester amendment, Senator Jeanie Forrester said that, in the wake of 12-a, the Legislature in 2007 passed eight state laws outlawing eminent domain, but omitted the law governing public utilities. “This is the first test of the true purpose of Article 12-A and the landowners along Northern Pass can’t afford for us to fail this test,” Forrester said.

After the bill was passed, Senate President Peter Bragdon remarked that he “believes Northern Pass could never qualify to use eminent domain with the new language in the legislation.’I’m very confident it’s air tight,’ Bragdon said.”

And summing up the wider implications of the bill’s passage, Will Abbott declared that “it’s a good day for the Constitution . . . It’s a good day for property owners.”

Northern Pass and Senator Jeb Bradley warned that HB 648 outsources the eminent domain decision to ISO-New England. This is entirely incorrect. Please refute it if you see it pop up. All HB 648 as amended does is to eliminate a class of public utility projects from the potential to apply for eminent domain under 371:1. Any decision on whether or not to grant eminent domain for projects eligible to apply remains 100% a NH PUC decision.

In its project journal entry today, Northern Pass first argues that its project is “not predicated on the use of eminent domain,” but that a new policy at FERC might make it eligible for eminent domain. NP “look[s] forward to working with federal and regional regulators on development of a policy that fully considers projects like Northern Pass, and . . . [is] confident that given the reliability, low cost, and environmental benefits that this project provides, [it] will be able to develop a structure that is conducive to the development of the project [i.e., eligible for eminent domain].” In other words, Northern Pass doesn’t need eminent domain, but if there’s any new way to finagle it, Northern Pass will try. There’s nothing new in this attitude.

Is HB 648 the “silver bullet” that will stop Northern Pass? No. It was never meant to be. But it will deny Northern Pass as currently structured access to eminent domain. NP’s participant-funded structure approved by FERC will disqualify it from eminent domain in NH. That’s clear. To reinvent itself as eligible for eminent domain and reapply to FERC, as NP is already hinting, might take as much as a year or more and, of course, might never happen at all.

A lot can happen in a year. A lot will happen in a year. For one, the amended bill today creates a study commission to look at the use of state ROWs as energy corridors for buried lines. And the Opposition will not rest. But for tonight, everyone might best pause for a moment and be grateful for the hard work that began over a year ago with the introduction of HB 648 by Rep. Larry Rappaport et al. and concluded today with Sen. Forrester’s skillful performance on the Senate floor. Many people and groups led to the huge success today. Sen. Bragdon singled out for notice the 600-plus emails, a conservative estimate, and countless phone calls the Senate received concerning 648. Many were from us.

The fight continues . . . . tomorrow . . . . with the Opposition strengthened and energized by the January 15th Balsams triumph and by today’s success in the Senate. 2012 has gotten off to a very promising start! Please take some time to celebrate HB 648. And to say special thanks to Senator Forrester and Rep. Rappaport for leading us to victory.

2 comments

  1. Why one might support the Northern Pass Project:

    1.) Access to 1,200 megawatts (the equivalent of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station) of low-carbon, low-cost, renewable hydro power.

    2.) New high-voltage transmission and converter capacity adding needed robustness to the North American power grid.

    3.) New source of property taxes in economically-challenged areas of New Hampshire–$15 to $20 million in property taxes according to the Northern Pass economic study.

    4.) Whether you agree with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or not, it is a reality and this project is needed to met the RGGI goal of a 10 percent reduction in CO2 by 2018.

    5.) Would we rather get our power from Canada or Saudi Arabia/Venezuela?

  2. My brother Steve lives in Holderness. He suffered a stroke just after retiring from Plymouth State University two years ago. I have been struck when visiting him by how the lawn signs in and around his area show no distinction from have and have not residences. The North Country is dead set against this project. The promise of local tax revenue is fleeting, it’s called depreciation.
    “Good rural jobs” were one of the call outs in a lobbyist tract I read this past Summer all about the Project.
    Brush cutting jobs.
    The building in Franklin will be built fast and by others more experienced than the local work force.
    The Utility has tried every gambit, even parties for snowmobile enthusiast’s.
    How about that Pro NP tv ad with some guy from Seabrook of all places cavorting on the beach with his whole family, a GAP type ad, all of them in white shirts and khakis! Regionalism was the theme, I guess.
    This is scar right across the North Country and we all should stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors to the North in stopping the project.
    They need our help, our numbers, to end this ridiculous proposal.
    The utility can bring this line right down an existing right of way in Vermont.
    For me, this will be a test case on public opinion and environmental activism in New Hampshire.
    Others will be watching too.
    Look at the struggle over the continued fouling of Great Bay locally. It’s like pulling teeth to get people to stand up and defend the environment.
    So go ahead tout numbers and leave your heart out of the equation. Then when you are driving up 93 and hit one of those great vistas with a big wire across it you can beam to yourself and know you had a part in making that happen.
    Mike

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