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Union rallies in support of Northern Pass at legislative hearing

By Bill Smith
New Hampshire Union Leader

February 12. 2013 10:41AM

CONCORD – Fewer than one hundred people, including a contingent of union members, turned out Tuesday for hearings on five bills relating to the Northern Pass electrical transmission projects.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers sent a delegation of its members, wearing green t-shirts featuring slogans such as "Don't Bury My Job," to express support for the project.

The hearing was scheduled in Representatives Hall because of the number of people expected to attend.

The House Committee on Science, Technology and Energy is holding hearings on five bills, most of which attempt to limit the ability of Northeast Utilities to construct the high power lines to bring electrical power from hydroelectric projects in Quebec through New Hampshire to the power grid serving New England.

Both utility companies and forest preservationist groups have been buying up forest land; Northeast to establish a route for the power lines, and the Society for Preservation of New Hampshire Forests to effectively block construction of the Northern Pass project.

The committee agreed to allow anyone showing up to testify to speak on any of the five bills before it at the hearing.

House Bill 166 would allow the state Public Utilities Commission to determine if the project is for the "public good" and, if not, order the lines buried. House Bill 568 would require all new high voltage transmission lines to be buried, while House Bill 569 would require the lines to trace the routes of transportation rights-of-way, or rail lines and highways.

House bill 449 would require the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Committee to develop a report on the economic impact of a utility project on jobs and income in affected communities. House Bill 568 would slap a one-year moratorium on licensing new electrical generation lines.

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