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Opportunity to comment on Northern Pass brings out politicians

District 1 Sen. Jeff Woodburn, a Democrat of Dalton, was the last to speak during the public comment period of the Site Evaluation Committee-sponsored information session on the proposed Northern Pass Transmission (NPT) project, held on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at the Mountain View Grand. (Photo by Edith Tucker) (click for larger version)
January 27, 2016
WHITEFIELD — "The current Northern Pass Transmission proposal falls short — seriously short — and must be changed to meet the needs of the North Country — particularly Coös County," testified Senator Jeff Woodburn of Dalton at the public comment period of the five-hour-long Site Evaluation Committee-sponsored information session on Wednesday night, Jan. 20, at the Mountain View Grand.

"I've long said that Northern Pass needs to provide 'tangible, local benefits,'" he continued.

"While progress has been made since the original announcement back in 2010 and last year (in 2015) by (the proposal to) bury the line (along 52 miles of roadways) through much of the White Mountains, to establish a large mitigation fund to expand economic opportunity and to compensate communities impacted by this project, an imbalance still exists.  

"We cannot divide our region into winners and losers.

"I remain concerned about the impact of the project in Coös County, especially in my hometown of Whitefield – where four out of the five entry points to the town would be impacted by overhead lines.

Woodburn concluded, "Quite frankly, more needs to be done to target and define benefits for this region and fix this imbalance — this could be additional burial or more mitigation money or some combination of the two."

Both candidates — Dolly McPhaul of Sugar Hill and Rep. Leon Rideout of Lancaster — who are vying in the Sept. 13 state Republican Primary for their Party's nomination to run against incumbent Senator Woodburn on Nov. 8 oppose the NPT project as proposed. McPhaul accused Eversource of using low-down business practices, pointing out that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reached a $540,000 settlement with the former owner of a New Hampshire country radio station —Cumulus Media, former owner of Dover-based WOKQ, 97.5 FM — that broadcast 178 commercial announcements supporting the Northern Pass project without, as required, identifying the payer's identity. She also refuted Eversource NH president Bill Quinlan' claim that NPT's current proposal represents a balance.

Rideout noted that he has been steadfastly opposed to the NPT project, which he and the vast majority of his constituents believe should be buried in its entirety if it is to go forward.

Rep. Brad Bailey, a Republican of Monroe who represents Grafton 14, a floterial district, also spoke in opposition to the project, as now proposed. Others also spoke in opposition, but about a third spoke in favor of the project, including Mike Sterling, general manager for (Bob) Chapman Scrap Metal & Demolition of Milan, Gorham and Berlin, which owns the mill site in Groveton and industrial buildings in Berlin.

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