The latest update from the Northern Pass prompted me to add this blog page to our site.
My intent is to have a single source of updates on the project and to gear it to the MRE community. Since we all received the same letter from the Northern Pass last week, this seems like a good place to start. Disclaimer: I don’t try to hide my opinions here – what I write is what I believe to be true. I’ll do my best to stick to the facts but when it comes to breaking down a letter like the one we’ve recently received, my write-up is going to be biased.
That said, let’s get started. From Ms Berry’s letter to the association:
“Over the past few months, the preliminary engineering and design work for the proposed Northern Pass transmission line has continued to move forward.”
Because the route has not been announced yet and because the Environmental Impact Statement Scoping has not been completed, any engineering and design work that is moving forward is premature. At least it should be. The reality is that most/all of this “preliminary” work was done long before they even sprung the project on us a year ago. Since then they’ve had Normandeau Associates collecting the environmental data that will prove the one and only route they’ve offered is the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative. Normandeau was removed from the project due to conflict of interests and was replaced by new environmental contractors in August. The fact that they are moving forward with design and engineering shows the confidence that they have in their ability to ram this project through the regulatory process without incurring any substantial changes. They know that DOE loves new transmission projects and they know that the NH PUC is absolutely bought and paid for by PSNH.
“We are available and willing to meet with you to discuss the project, including preliminary engineering designs, potential structure types and locations, easements, and any other aspect of the project specific to your property and your community”
They’re willing to meet, but notice that they are not seeking input – they’re more than happy to tell us what we are going to get but they don’t mention trying to work with us to minimize impacts. Their arrogance is on full display here: any discussion of structure locations is premature given that the route is far from approved and even if the route is approved each structure location must be approved by the NH Site Evaluation Committee. But they are speaking with the confidence that comes from knowing that the deck is totally stacked in their favor – the DOE has never denied a presidential permit and PSNH controls the site evaluation committee.
“We have developed visual simulations from a variety of public vantage points”
Of course they have. Question: who needs a “visual simulation” to know what a 130 foot tower looks like when you have 40 foot poles on your property now? Just “visualize” 2 more of those poles stacked on the first one. Or better yet, just go out to Littleton and look at the existing HVDC line. And who are you going to believe, PSNH’s “visual simulations” or your lying eyes?
“While most of the necessary field work has been completed for 2011, it is anticipated that additional historical, archeological, visual, and natural resource data will be collected in some locations along the proposed route in 2012.”
This data is typically used in the preparation of the EIS. The intent of the EIS is to ensure that the applicant is using the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative. In this case the Scoping for the EIS hasn’t even been done yet because they haven’t finalized a route through Coos county. And since they’ve only proposed one route, this data can’t be used to select among alternatives. As such, the only thing that the collected data could possibly do is halt the project. If you read the Memorandum of Understanding between DOE, the Northern Pass Transmission, and the environmental contractors you’ll see that Northern Pass Transmission controls the budget for the environmental contractors. Does anyone believe that they are going to allow any data to be collected that could potentially halt the project? Of course they won’t. This data collection is a complete farce. They have their route, they have regulatory agencies firmly in their corner, and all they need to do is craft a few studies showing that clear cutting forest, widening rights of way, and erecting massive steel towers is going to have no impact on the environment whatsoever. None. I swear I could write their studies for them. In fact, I think I just did.
The bottom line is that the Northern Pass folks want to reach out to us. They just don’t want to hear from us. They want to be able to say that they’re “working with us” while they proceed to roll right over us. We have to get our representatives in Washington involved and working on our behalf. Write and/or call Senator Ayotte, Senator Shaheen, and Congressman Bass. Tell them that the process is unfair and that your voice is not being heard.