March 24, 2011


Power Companies Should Listen to the Public, Go Back to the Drawing Board

Concord, NH, March 25—Using full-page ads in newspapers around the state, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) is calling for the chief executive officers of the power companies involved in the unpopular Northern Pass power line proposal to voluntarily withdraw the project from consideration due to the overwhelming public opposition.

“On behalf of the thousands who stand in firm opposition, we are respectfully asking the CEOs of Northeast Utilities, PSNH, NStar and Hydro-Quebec to voluntarily reconsider their Northern Pass proposal,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society.

In addition to the advertisements calling for withdrawal, the Forest Society is sending letters directly to the CEOs asking them to listen to the will of the New Hampshire people.

“We believe that public opinion is a pass-fail ingredient of determining the ‘public interest’ of a proposal like this,” Difley said. “This should be especially true for a merchant project like Northern Pass, a private commercial development that is not based on market demand nor for system reliability.

“After the Department of Energy (DOE) hearings last week, it’s clear to anyone willing to listen that the project as proposed is not wanted by an overwhelming majority,” said Difley. “The responsible thing to do is withdraw Northern Pass from the permitting process and go back to the drawing board.”

Seven DOE hearings were held from March 14-20 to get public input on the scope of an Environmental Impact Study that would evaluate the environmental, economic, and social impact of 180 miles of power line proposed to run from Hydro-Quebec in Canada through New Hampshire to deliver electricity to southern New England. The proposed project includes 140 miles of high voltage direct current (HVDC) from the Canadian border in Pittsburg, NH, to Franklin, NH, and from there 40 miles of AC corridor to a substation in Deerfield, NH.

“Planting more than 1,000 towers up to 135 feet high across the New Hampshire landscape is not a reasonable alternative,” Difley said. “The Forest Society has a legal and ethical obligation to defend conservation lands from this kind of commercial development, and a long history of protecting the New Hampshire landscape.

“Common sense suggests that the time and money required for Northern Pass to overcome the will of the people would be better spent building consensus around solutions to our energy needs that are compatible with New Hampshire values as articulated by the thousands who have spoken out in opposition to the current proposal,” said Difley.

Speakers at the DOE hearings voiced their strong objections to the loss of property values, impact on local energy generation, environmental damage, potential health issues, and unfair use of eminent domain, among other detrimental effects of the project as proposed.

At Town Meeting this month, 29 towns voted to oppose Northern Pass, more than half voting unanimously. Legislative hearings on bills related to the proposal, including the controversial use of eminent domain, have drawn hundreds of people opposing Northern Pass. Earlier this week more than 2,600 letters asking Governor Lynch to oppose the project were delivered to his office. The Forest Society has also been collecting the names of thousands who don’t wish the project to go forward as proposed.

For more information about Northern Pass, including a map of the proposed power line corridor, information about the permitting process, and copies the Forest Society’s own comments at the DOE hearings, visit

The Forest Society is a private, non-profit membership organization established in 1901. It currently holds more than 700 conservation easements statewide permanently protecting 100,000 acres of New Hampshire’s landscape from further subdivision or development. The Forest Society also own 50,000 acres of land outright in 170 reservations in 95 New Hampshire communities, including the Washburn Family Forest in Clarksville and The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem.