Posted on March 27th, 2014 by

Support for Northern Pass continues to grow! An independent issues survey released earlier this week finds the strongest support yet for the project, with 46 percent of New Hampshire residents supporting the project and just 35 percent opposing it. The results are in line with what we have been hearing through our outreach efforts in recent months, and offer further proof that – the more people learn about Northern Pass, the more likely they are to support it.

Reading into the data gives a clearer picture of what kind of energy future New Hampshire residents want and how they want to get there. For instance:

  • Only 28 percent of those polled favor burying the Northern Pass given the dramatically higher costs of underground technology, and only 19 percent are willing to pay for the increased costs through a ratepayer charge.
  • 64 percent of residents polled support the idea that New Hampshire should diversify its energy portfolio by adding sources other than natural gas.
  • Just 31 percent of New Hampshire residents back a new natural gas pipeline and only 23 percent are willing to pay for the construction of a new pipeline.

These results will no doubt prompt policy makers to reconsider some of the popular misconceptions surrounding energy projects, and the actual concerns expressed by the public.

Nashua_Poll_Graph_JournalPost

This chart, taken from the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce 2014 Public Opinion Survey, shows growing support and declining opposition to Northern Pass.  Source: Greater Nashua Chamber

New England’s governors have called for the construction of both new natural gas pipeline and transmission lines, and they envision utility customers paying for these projects.  The potential for public funding for the construction of energy projects is now, as one Vermont official predicted, drawing developers “out of the woodwork” with costly proposals designed to help New England meet its energy goals. It is clear these projects are needed, yet it’s also evident that the public has concerns about picking up the tab.

And here is where Northern Pass is different.  As proposed, Northern Pass is a “merchant” or “participant-funded” project.  This means that, under the current plan, customers won’t pay for the construction of the line. The cost of building long-distance underground transmission lines (five to ten times higher than overhead construction) has the potential to make a participant-funded projects uneconomic. This is one of the reasons why just 0.5 percent of all transmission lines in the country are underground. 

New Hampshire residents have spoken. They want to add new sources of clean, renewable energy to the grid, and in a cost-efficient manner. Northern Pass will not only connect our grid to a major source of hydropower, it can also plug New Hampshire into its energy future.

Links:

All six New England governors commit to joint energy infrastructure agenda – Bangor Daily News

New England States Committee on Electricity Letter to ISO New England – Request for help in developing “tariff filings related to electric and natural gas infrastructure in New England.”

New England States Debate Sharing Costs For New Power Lines – Vermont Public Radio

Companies want to build multimillion-dollar power lines through Maine – Portland Press Herald

Out of Sight, Out of Mind 2012 – Edison Electric Institute

Power outages often spur questions around burying power lines – US Energy Information Administration


Posted on March 27th, 2014 by

Posted In: Community, Legislation, Need, Uncategorized, Updates

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