At yesterday’s Senate hearing on HB 648, Julia Frayer, managing director of London Economics International, was among those testifying against the bill, which seeks to amend the state’s long-standing eminent domain law. In a related statement, Frayer outlined five reasons why Northern Pass deserves serious consideration. She concluded:
…Northern Pass will improve the reliability of electricity service in New Hampshire and New England by increasing and diversifying the supply of power to the region. The Northern Pass transmission project—coupled with energy sourced from many of Hydro Québec’s storage reservoirs—will be a very controllable and reliable form of supply, in contrast to the typical run of river hydroelectric plant.
In summary, Northern Pass fits well within New Hampshire’s energy policy framework. It meets a number of fundamental objectives, including the need to transition to lower-carbon renewable energy, minimize government market intervention, contain costs for consumers, and make viable and reasonable long-term plans for the state’s energy future.
There are clear and substantive benefits for New Hampshire residents if Northern Pass moves forward. The cost-benefit proposition is very compelling, confirming the need for this project from the New Hampshire consumers’ and policy makers’ perspective.
One viewpoint often heard in debate about The Northern Pass project is that New Hampshire doesn’t need this energy, because we are currently a “net exporter” of electricity. The perception is that all of the benefit of the project will go to Massachusetts and Connecticut.
While it’s true that the power plants located in our state contribute more to the regional “power pool” than New Hampshire consumers draw from that pool—on most days of the year—our economy and energy supply are inextricably linked to those of our neighboring states. If every state had to take care of itself from an energy perspective, we’d have some major reliability problems on our hands. We’d also be facing much greater risks of price volatility.
Here are a couple things to consider:
The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests announced yesterday that it opposes the Northern Pass project “…as currently proposed.”
It’s certainly appropriate that an organization like the Society takes an interest in a project as significant as this and, frankly, we’d be surprised if it did not. What’s ironic, though, is that the Northern Pass has come about directly in response to concerns by the Society and other organizations and individuals who have called for more renewable energy and less fossil-fuel energy.
The Northern Pass can produce those results, but only by connecting to a significant source of renewable energy. There is the challenge. In identifying a preliminary preferred route for the new transmission line, project engineers sought to avoid completely or minimize impact with protected and conserved properties.
It hasn’t been easy. By the Society’s reckoning, it holds easements or owns outright almost 24-thousand acres of property in the towns along the project route. By avoiding one property another is impacted – and so on.
Fortunately, the Society and other interested parties appear open to fully discussing our shared goals and how best to achieve them. That opportunity will exist as part of the comprehensive permitting process that is ahead.