Recent media reports have focused on a lawsuit filed against the project and PSNH by the ownership of the Owl’s Nest Golf Club and Resort in Campton. The Owl’s Nest owners allege that the announcement of the Northern Pass proposal has adversely impacted the resort’s real estate sales. We feel it’s important to set the record straight.
PSNH has a long history of working successfully with neighbors along its rights-of-way on agreements that allow them to use the property for activities that do not affect the transmission or delivery of electricity. We believe that existing power line rights-of-way can coexist, as they have for many decades, with neighboring homes and businesses, including golf courses. PSNH owns and maintains more than 1,000 miles of transmission line rights-of-way throughout New Hampshire and has hundreds of joint use agreements along these rights-of-way with landowners, which typically allow them to make use of the rights-of-way for business or recreational purposes.
Owl’s Nest is a good example of such an arrangement. In fact, the resort’s website explains that it has been voted the best golf course in New Hampshire notwithstanding the existing transmission lines and right-of-way over the property. The power line easement and transmission lines at that location existed for decades before the Owl’s Nest’s purchase and development of the golf course.
In the years after the Owl’s Nest purchase of the property, the resort requested permission from PSNH to expand its operations and development within the power line right-of-way. PSNH agreed and worked cooperatively with Owl’s Nest on several occasions to permit the resort to use portions of the right-of-way for golf course operations, including a request to move a portion of the right-of-way in 2007 to accommodate the resort’s expansion. This 2007 agreement expressly recognized PSNH’s right to construct and install additional transmission lines, poles, towers, and related electric transmission equipment and facilities within the power line right-of-way; a provision that Owl’s Nest was fully aware of. In this lawsuit, the owners of Owl’s Nest claim that they were misled by PSNH about the terms of the 2007 agreement and its intended use. This claim is not only untrue, but is incredible in light of the clear language of the 2007 agreement.
Any allegation that the announcement of the Northern Pass project in late 2010 triggered the decline in Owl’s Nest real estate sales is simply wrong and has no basis in fact. Publicly available data clearly shows that the resort has suffered the effects of a deep recession that began well before the Northern Pass project, significantly impacting the New Hampshire real estate market. It is unfortunate that Owl’s Nest, like many others across our state and the rest of the country, has been impacted by this economic downturn.
We remain open to continuing our cooperative dialogue with Owl’s Nest to address any legitimate concerns they may have with our proposal; however, the claims now being made ignore or misstate the facts.
For our part, we are focused on continuing our landowner outreach efforts and working to address legitimate concerns with our proposal through open, thoughtful, and fact-based discussions. We are confident the project can be sited in a responsible manner that ensures New Hampshire can benefit from clean, low-cost hydro power, hundreds of jobs, and millions in new taxes Northern Pass will provide.