Four days of hearings on Northern Pass were scheduled in July before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), covering Northern Pass property tax revenue and what effect transmission lines have on tourism.
WHY PEOPLE VISIT NH
Mitch Nichols, of the Nichols Tourism Group, spoke about the research he conducted on the New Hampshire tourism industry and whether the presence of transmission lines is considered by tourists or those in the tourism industry as an influential factor.
In his study, Nichols used data collected by Plymouth State University’s Institute for New Hampshire Studies and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, as well as interviews with representatives from the state’s tourism industry and a prospective visitor’s survey. This research showed there are a number of issues that influence a visitor’s decision on where they will travel, including how easy it is to access the destination, the range of activities available, new or improved attractions, marketing, weather, and overall value for the money.
There is a lack of evidence to show that transmission lines influence tourism, and no known studies of transmission line development show a quantifiable impact on the tourism industry. The Nichols Tourism Group added in its report that during the group’s own work on more than 250 assignments studying a wide range of tourist destinations, they found no indication transmission lines have an impact on tourism.
“Never in the prior 20 years of planning work has any concern been raised regarding the presence of power lines and their possible negative influence on visitor demand,” the report said.
PROPERTY TAX REVENUE FOR COMMUNITIES ON THE ROUTE
Lisa Shapiro, Chief Economist at Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell in Concord, provided testimony on her work estimating the Northern Pass property tax payments to New Hampshire communities.
One of the most direct and immediate benefits the communities along the proposed Northern Pass route will receive is increased property tax revenue. In its first full year of operation, the project will pay an estimated $35 million to $40 million in property taxes. That includes approximately:
Recently, Northern Pass reached out to all of the incorporated communities along the route to notify them of the expected tax revenue the project will bring over the next 20 years. In Stewartstown, for example, the estimated Northern Pass investment (which is an increase to the town’s tax base) in the first year after construction will be $69.9 million. Once built, Northern Pass will represent 45 percent of the town’s overall property value and yield an estimated first-year payment for municipal and local school taxes of $858,361. That would bring an estimated first-year homeowner tax benefit of up to $830 per $100,000 in home value.
For more information about the Northern Pass property tax revenue in communities along the route, go to www.northernpass.us/towns.htm.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR NORTHERN PASS
ENVIRONMENTAL MITIGATION AND ENHANCING NH’S CONSERVATION EFFORTS
During its design phase, Northern Pass sought to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands along the proposed route whenever possible. However, environmental studies revealed that some wetlands will be impacted from construction and operation of the project. Working with various agencies, and in accordance with state and federal law, Northern Pass has dedicated 1,627 acres of approved land for wetland mitigation — exceeding the state and federal requirements for wetlands mitigation the project must meet. Environmental mitigation is a term used primarily by government agencies and environmental organizations to describe projects or programs intended to offset known impacts to an existing resource, such as a stream, wetland, endangered species, or historic structure.
Northern Pass has worked with the New Hampshire’s Fish and Game Department, Department of Environmental Services (DES), and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to identify land that could be part of the Northern Pass mitigation plan and would also provide additional benefits to other conservation and restoration efforts around the state. The mitigation package includes eight conservation sites that are valued for having numerous wetlands, floodplains, streams, vernal pools, or are connected to other conservation lands.
Highest Ranked Habitats
Much of the land Northern Pass has dedicated to the mitigation package specifically addresses local and regional conservation goals.
They include corridors for lynx, marten and other wildlife, habitats for moose and Northern long-eared bat, deer wintering areas, large forest blocks for forest breeding birds, and a mix of land types from wetlands and early successional forests to mature forests and high-elevation habitat. Six sites, totaling 1,533 acres, are located in the North Country and are adjacent to or near other undeveloped land that offer opportunities for hiking, hunting and fishing.
The sites in the mitigation plan stand out for the significant conservation opportunities they present the state. Approximately 700 acres are considered Highest Ranked Habitat, a determination made by New Hampshire Fish and Game. This designation indicates land that contains wildlife habitat in the best relative condition in the state or region, considering the location of key species, the landscape setting, and the impact humans have had on the area.
The following parcels will be preserved as part of the Northern Pass Wetland Mitigation Package:
*This Concord conservation land is in addition to the Wetland Mitigation package and is included in the overall mitigation plan.
ABOUT NORTHERN PASS
Northern Pass is a 192-mile electric transmission line project that will provide New Hampshire and New England up to 1,090 megawatts of clean hydropower. This reliable and competitively-priced power will also bring a range of benefits to New Hampshire, including hundreds of millions of dollars in energy cost savings, additional tax revenue, and thousands of jobs during construction and beyond. To learn more about Northern Pass, go to www.northernpass.us. You can also email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-286-7305.