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Councilor Burton opposes Northern Pass project in N.H.

January 05, 2011
BATH — District 1 Executive Councilor Ray Burton announced that he is opposed to building the high-voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Northern Pass transmission line through District 1 as proposed in a Dec. 27 press release.

"After studying the pros and cons on the Northern Pass electric line being built through many of the towns and counties I have represented for 32 years, I have concluded the negatives of this project as proposed far outweigh the positives," Councilor Burton said.

"Though the final approval and construction of this massive power line is years away, I am not in support of allowing this foreign power coming right by our own local producers of hydro power, wind power and wood-to-energy plants," he explained.

Councilor Burton said he had listened to a professional presentation by Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) and Hydro Quebec officials, as well as to affected landowners, large and small business owners, and also read written pieces that were both for and against the proposed project.

"As a longtime elected official, I see no value in this project coming through New Hampshire as currently proposed," Councilor Burton stated. "I recommend it be built in Vermont along existing right of way (ROW). "I urge all interested and affected parties to continue to contact their local and state officials."

Councilor Burton said in a Saturday morning telephone interview that he has had no pushback from Franklin, which is located in Merrimack County and not in District 1.

If, as proposed, a $250 million DC-to-alternating-current (AC) converter station were to be built in Franklin, then the tax base of that beleagured city would increase by approximately 50 percent.

"I'm not leading the parade of those opposed to the project as now proposed but am part of those who would like to help open the door to compromise," Councilor Burton explained.

Some very good and experienced former state Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) employees are working on the project, he pointed out. He noted in particular that former NHDES commissioner Robert "Bob" Varney, also formerly Regional Administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and now president of Normandeau Associates, and former NHDES assistant commissioner Dana Bisbee, formerly of Pierce Atwood LLP in Portsmouth and now chair of the environmental group at the law firm of Devine Millimet in Manchester, are working on behalf of moving the project forward.

"I would expect that as time goes on adjustments would be made to the proposed project," Councilor Burton said. "Right now, Cos very much needs to be able to focus on its natural resources. The massive towers that this proposed project would entail would not help stabilize the county's still-faltering economy."

Councilor Burton also pointed out that the federal and state permit process would take two or more years and provide lots of opportunity for citizen input.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Alton School
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