Northern Pass, a corporate partnership among power companies Northeast Utilities, PSNH and Hydro-Quebec, proposes to construct more than 1,500 towers on 187 miles of high-voltage transmission line from Canada through New Hampshire. The project was introduced to the public in October 2010 as a private "merchant project" and shortly thereafter became the most controversial proposals the state has ever seen. More than 30 towns voted to oppose the project, thousands of individuals have expressed their opposition to the Department of Energy, and more than 8,000 people signed a petition urging Gov. Hassan to insist on burial of Northern Pass if it is ever built.
That has not (yet) prevented Northern Pass from attempting to proceed. They have filed for a requisite Presidential Permit, and the U.S. Dept. of Energy has commissioned an Environmental Impact Statement. That draft EIS will likely be published sometime in 2015, and may include assessments of viable alternatives to the proposed overhead transmission line, including burial along existing transportation corridors. To go forward, the project would also require approval by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee as well as a Special Use Permit from the US Forest Service in order to pass through the White Mountain National Forest.
• We must defend conservation lands. This proposal for the largest-ever power line in New Hampshire would cross and have detrimental impacts on thousands of acres of protected conservation lands. Some of these are lands owned by the Forest Society and many are private lands on which the Forest Society holds permanent conservation easements. We have both an ethical and legal obligation to defend these lands, held in public trust, from unnecessary commercial development and degradation.
• We must protect New Hampshire’s scenic values. The permanent protection of “places with special scenic beauty” has been part of our mission since 1901. Our work is partly responsible for the scenic landscapes that attract millions of tourists to our state every year and make tourism our second-largest industry providing tens of thousands of jobs. The route chosen for the Northern Pass will degrade this foundation resource and compromise the quality of life we leave to future generations.
• We must safeguard our forests. The power line corridor and 90- to 135-foot-tall towers will permanently alter the lands they cross, fragmenting forests, disrupting wildlife habitat, disfiguring communities and lowering property values.
• We must fight for the New Hampshire advantage. There is no clear long-term public benefit to New Hampshire from the Northern Pass project. As of today the power will be exported to southern New England. No existing fossil fuel plant is slated for elimination as the result of Northern Pass, so our air quality will not significantly improve. As proposed, we would host a 187-mile scar on the landscape and reap few real benefits.