October 23, 2013BETHELHEM — The first public showing of the YouTube video developed by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) was shown on Friday morning at The Rocks to an audience of legislators from Coös and Grafton counties and as far south as Concord, plus a handful of select board and ConCom members from nearby towns. About 40 people crowded into a meeting room next to the gift shop in the barn run by the historic property's nonprofit owner, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF).
Susan Arnold, AMC's policy director who formerly served in the same capacity for then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, introduced the video that is now posted online: www.outdoors.org/northernpassvideo. Arnold is part of a team of Northern Pass opponents who were on hand from five nonprofit organizations, including the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust (ACT), SPNHF, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF).
The short simulated video fly-over – which uses data from Northern Pass' permit application – is designed to show how the 186-mile-long proposed electric transmission lines, nearly all overhead wires on towers taller than the surrounding trees, would affect the Granite State.
"The area is shown up to a half of a mile out on either side of the transmission line route, including the location and heights of new towers and existing ones that would be enlarged or moved," Arnold explained, noting, however, that the towers' visual impact would extend beyond the width that is shown in the video.
"Episode I" is a four-minute overview YouTube video, superimposed on Google-earth footage.
Eleven more detailed individual segments, starting from the south and moving north to the Canadian border, are also available online: (segment 6) Woodstock, Lincoln, and Easton; (7) Sugar Hill and Bethlehem; (8) Whitefield, Dalton, and Lancaster; (9) Stark and Northumberland; (10) Dummer and Millsfield; and (11) Dixville, Stewartstown, Clarksville, and Pittsburg.
It would take 40 minutes to view all 11 segments, Arnold noted.
She points out in her online introduction, "This is the time to make the case and ensure the integrity of your public lands and the protection of some of New England's most impressive vistas."
She urges viewers to let the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) know by Nov. 5 that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Northern Pass should consider the proposed project's visual impacts, explore alternate routes, methods, and power sources, and recognize all the ways the EIS will be used as a resource during the permitting process.
"Northern Pass would require 2,300 new and relocated lattice-work towers, some up to 155-feet tall, to be placed on the landscape," Arnold explained. "The online video shows the scale of change the project would wreak on New Hampshire."
AMC's research department, including Ken Kimball and Larry Garland, are continuing to refine exactly how extensive the proposed project's overall impact would be.
The proposed 186-mile route would cross I-93 six times, with eight additional exposures of close proximity; 30 crossings of N.H. scenic and cultural byways; 30 crossings of state and federal highways, and 10 crossing of designated N. H. rivers.
AMC and its partners plan an intensive press and social media campaign designed to ensure that every New Hampshire resident is aware of the availability this new online YouTube simulation.
Susan Schibanoff of Easton, a retired English professor at UNH who opposes the project, added she believes the reason that Northern Pass was targeted for New Hampshire, rather then its neighboring states of Vermont and Maine, is that the Granite State "doesn't care enough about its landowners" and lacks legislative protections that these two New England states have embraced.
The Easton activist also pointed out that the project's original 185-page Transmission Service Agreement (TSA) filed on Dec. 15, 2010, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the accompanying direct testimony of then-NPT president James Muntz of Northeast Utilities (in Appendix B) is more transparent about how the City of Franklin, site of the proposed converter terminal station to change 1,200 megawatts of Direct Current (DC) into Alternating Current to be sent on to the Deerfield substation, would be used as a future "jumping-off point" for additional lines than recent documents and statements have indicated.
Mr. Muntz provided written testimony to FERC dated Dec. 15, 2010: "The NPT Line also helps set the stage for additional future transmission improvements in New England, and thus added transmission system reliability. The 40-mile AC Line from Franklin to Deerfield extends the existing 345-kV bulk power system further north into New Hampshire. This part of the NPT Line may provide an attractive 'jump off' point for additional reliability-based 345-kV upgrades in the future as loads grow. Potential reliability projects enabled by this extension include the addition of auto-transformers in Franklin to enhance reliability in that region and further expansion of the 345-kV system to points north or west to meet future reliability needs in either New Hampshire or Vermont."
Others speaking at the information session, moderated by SPNHF policy vice president Will Abbott, included: president-forester Jane Difley; staff lawyer Christophe Courchesne; TNC government affairs director Jim O'Brien; and ACT president Rep. Rebecca Brown of Sugar Hill. A hike and a drive nearby points south provided an opportunity for those on hand to become familiar with the route of the existing PSNH route on which new towers would be erected if approved in a lengthy permitting process.