Proponents, opponents speak out at Northern Pass hearing
CONCORD — Northern Pass supporters said Thursday that the project would provide businesses with lower energy costs while opponents said the power transmission project would hurt tourism.
“In the North Country, we are putting our environment at risk and that is the only asset we have,” Bethlehem resident Leslie Dreier said during a hearing before the state Site Evaluation Committee.
Real estate executive Tom Farrelly said the project will help attract more companies to the Granite State.
“I cannot tell you how many deals that have gone to other states because of the cost of power in New Hampshire,” Farrelly said. “From a business perspective, this is an unbelievably great deal for our state.”
More than 30 people spoke, with opponents outnumbering supporters by nearly a 3-to-1 ratio.
About 1,300 written comments also have been submitted to the state committee, with opponents dominating by at least a 10-to-1 ratio, according to the committee.
The committee also announced that it has scheduled 15 more hearing dates, between Aug. 29 and Sept. 29
The proposed $1.6 billion project needs several state and federal approvals before it could start operating in late 2019 or early 2020.
Project officials hope to garner all necessary approvals by the end of this year. The proposed route runs from Pittsburg to Deerfield and would include 60 miles of buried lines.
Project supporter Meredith Briggs, whose family’s roots date back to 1769 in Deerfield, said she needs electricity to operate her home and farm and that residential development has destroyed Deerfield’s small-town charm, something opponents sometimes cite.
“I resent those that have moved to Deerfield and before the doors of the U-Hauls are closed, set about imposing their will and opinions,” she said. “It sticks in my throat like vomit.”
Deerfield resident Rachael Stuart said there is no need for Northern Pass and it would hurt efforts to draw skilled workers seeking to live in more rural areas with natural amenities.
“It’s a revenue-producing project for Eversource and Hydro-Quebec, and it will permanently endanger future efforts to create what we do need, a diversified economy,” Stuart said.
Hydro-Quebec would use Northern Pass’s transmission lines to carry hydropower from Canada.