The health of the economy is a constant concern for people who live in the North Country. As paper mills and other companies have closed down, the region has turned to other industries to keep their economy moving. The tourism and hospitality industry is one, providing hundreds of jobs in hotels, inns, restaurants, gas stations and local stores. Summer, fall foliage, and ski and snowmobile season are all busy times for these North Country businesses, but as anyone from up north will tell you, tourism sharply drops in the late fall and in spring.
Getting through these lean times can be a challenge for both workers and businesses owners. Having something else to draw people to the region besides tourism, such as large-scale construction projects, can help, according to Scott Labnon, owner of the Town & Country Inn and Resort in Shelburne. In this video, Labnon talks about how large construction projects helped give a boost to his family business. During construction of the Burgess biomass plant and the federal prison in Berlin, the Town & Country saw an uptick in business in their restaurant and lounge. This kept the Inn busy during typically slow times and led to the hiring of more staff.
Northern Pass will be one of the largest construction projects in New Hampshire, requiring hundreds of workers. Like these other projects, Northern Pass will bring more business into local communities.
“I’m sure all the diners and restaurants along the Route 3 corridor heading up to Colebrook would see a big influx,” said Labnon.
Watch the video to hear more of what Labnon has to say about the economic boost large construction projects have brought to the North Country.
For more than 200 years, the Minot family has lived and worked on a 450-acre farm just north of the White Mountains National Forest. Its rolling hills and freshly mowed fields are dotted with cows. The large red barn, white farmhouse, and swift brook running through the heart of the farm are quintessential rural New England.
“The land is very important to us,” said farm owner William Minot. “It’s the reason we do this. It’s been here all my life, for several generations, and it’s our goal to keep it that way as long as we can.”
Minot and his family grow crops and hay, run a dairy farm and produce maple syrup. Much of this work is done beneath or within view of high-powered electrical transmissions lines that have stood on the farm for decades. Minot said these lines have had little impact on his family business. To him, they are just another part of the landscape.
“Never had a bit of a problem with them,” said Minot. “I could look through those lines and I wouldn’t even see them. They’ve always been there. I kind of like to have the electricity work, so I figure we need to move a little juice through here.”
We visited the Minot Farm earlier this year to get Minot’s take on the power lines. In this video, you’ll see the scenic Minot Farm and hear about the power line’s benefits, including electricity for families and businesses like his. The video also shows that transmission lines, like those proposed by Northern Pass, can exist in harmony with the surrounding landscape.
Spring means two things in Northern New Hampshire: mud and maple. Down a long, bumpy dirt road in Pittsburg, worn rough by frost heaves, there is a newly-constructed sugar shack. It’s mid-spring and steam pours out of a metal stack in the roof. Snowmobiles are parked near a garage door, ready to skim over the slush and mud into the vast expanse of the sugar bush. The next closest neighbor is in another country—literally—a farmer across the border in Canada.
Here is where you’ll find Jules Rancourt (pictured) and his crew boiling up thousands of gallons of maple syrup—Kate & Jen’s maple syrup to be exact. Kate and Jen are Rancourt’s daughters and this is, by every account, a family business. It’s also a new phase of life for Rancourt, a friendly-faced and hardworking framer who’s ready to put down the hammer and pick up the hydrometer (though his prior craft is evident in the quirky charm of his high-tech sugar shack).
The maple business is labor and land intensive. It takes patience and a lot of land to produce enough syrup for a sugar shack to be an income source. When Rancourt did the math, he knew he needed at least 6,000 hard maple trees to clear the threshold, but the land he was eyeing had been bought by Northern Pass. His hopes were not dashed. He saw opportunity.
Within a few short weeks of contacting Northern Pass, Rancourt signed a lease that gives him access to about 3,400 hard maple trees. That brings his total tap count to well over 8,000, far above the minimum he needed to make his business a success.
This is just one way Northern Pass is working with community members to spur economic development and encourage smart use of the land. We’re pleased to help Rancourt’s burgeoning business get off the ground and wish him sweet success!
To hear Jules tell the story, please check out this video.
We recognize that the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests opposes the project, as proposed. But, it’s important to separate facts from fiction and, unfortunately, SPNHF has now produced a video with incorrect facts and manipulated images that distort the truth.
In contrast to the claims made in the video, this house, at its closest corner, was built approximately 20 feet from the edge of an existing right of way. The centerline of the proposed power line is an additional 35 feet into the right of way. Therefore, the centerline of the proposed power line would be not less than 55 feet from the home. The structure location may be even further away. We would work collaboratively with owners of properties abutting existing power line rights of way when we propose to locate new structures nearby.
It’s unfortunate that SPNHF clearly photo-shopped a random structure into a photo of a home, based on inaccurate distances and perspectives, distorting reality.
It’s also inaccurate to claim, as SPNHF does in the video, that “…more than 1,000 families are similarly impacted.” Homes can be built right up to the edge of a right of way, if a home builder chooses. In most cases, however, homes and other structures on properties abutting existing power line rights of ways are located a greater distance from the edge than the property cited here.
We understand and respect differing points of view, but we encourage everyone in the debate to deal with facts instead of fiction.
Earlier today, The Northern Pass transmission project updated its filing with the US Dept. of Energy. In this video, PSNH President Gary Long discusses some of the changes.
In this video, Tom True, senior project manager for Coler & Colantonio, discusses the process of gathering environmental data for The Northern Pass project. This is done only after permission is received from landowners along the proposed route of the new transmission line. The data differs depending on the season, so three or four visits to a property may be required over the course of a year or two.
Respect for property owners’ privacy is of the utmost concern. Owners are notified two to three weeks in advance of a visit, and those gathering the data take care to leave the property in a safe and respectful condition. Additionally, by granting the right to gather data, property owners do not give up any other property rights—the right of access is to gather data only.
In his 30-year career with Hydro-Québec (HQ), scientist Claude Demers (now retired) conducted extensive research into the environmental impacts associated with the development of man-made hydroelectric reservoirs. This work included the measurement of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions levels associated with the development of HQ’s Eastmain 1 Reservoir, as well as the measurement of GHG emissions from existing man-made hydroelectric reservoirs and naturally occurring water bodies in northern Québec.
In this brief video, Demers reports that GHG emissions associated with HQ’s man-made hydroelectric reservoirs are very low, and are comparable to neighboring, naturally occurring water bodies.