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Opponents continue to rally against Northern Pass


Will speak out in House Tuesday against bill to declare hydro renewable


February 04, 2011
BETHLEHEM—Opponents of the Northern Pass power transmission line met last Wednesday at North Country Council (NCC) to strategize how to oppose the proposed project.

This will include attending a State Senate committee meeting next Tuesday in Concord to speak against HB 302, which would modify existing law to allow hydro power to be considered renewable energy.

The House committee hearing Tuesday is before the Science, Technology and Energy Committee at the Legislative Office Building, Room 304 at 1 p.m.

The opponents last week at NCC discussed various forms their organization might take, and how broad an umbrella of opponents they would consider philosophically. Some opponents of the plan oppose any new right-of-way; others are opposed to transmission towers but would not object to the lines being buried. Both perspectives have been evident at various meetings about the project throughout the North Country.

At last week's meeting Executive Councilor Ray Burton made his opposition to the current proposal quite evident.

"This is a foreign government owned project that would pass right over our local wood, hydro and wind generators," Burton said. "This is a serious situation that will destroy what we have left—our outdoors recreation economy."

Burton had at first not opposed the project—which would build a 140-mile long transmission line from the Canadian border to a converter station in Franklin carrying electrical power from large dams in northern Quebec—but after studying it and hearing from numerous constituents has come out against it. Hydro-Quebec, a company owned by the province of Quebec is the main partner in the project.

The theme that this is a foreign invasion of sorts was returned to again and again.

Randy Farwell, the owner of Alpine Adventures in Lincoln said the theme of a foreign invasion would appeal to a broad range of people, including veterans.

Bob Baker, of Columbia, reiterated that it is indeed a foreign invasion because not only is the power coming from Canada but also the company is government owned.

Tom Mullen, of the Owl's Nest Resort in Campton said that this project was already ruining him economically.

"This project is the most dangerous situation New Hampshire has faced in the 47 years that I've been here," Mullen said. "This is a threat that has effectively put us out of business."

Because so many businesses depend on tourism this project is viewed as a direct threat to businesses in the North Country that depend on tourist dollars.

Some of various strategies agreed upon by the group of 30 or so opponents present include putting up signs near the route of the lines, putting up balloons at the height of the towers so passerby could see their potential impact on the landscape; lawsuits; debates; bring second home owners into the fight; and legislative solutions.

The group also worked on a mission statement, going back and forth between a vision statement promoting local green energy and a statement of opposition to the proposed project.

The latter had the broadest support among those present as it could garner the backing of the widest range of people.

In addition to those strategies, the group is going to have a strong presence at the SnoDeo, the large snowmobile event in Colebrook in early March that has controversially received the sponsorship of Northern Pass, though the club that puts on the event has vociferously denied supporting the project.

Opponents to the project will also have a table at the 28th annual New Hampshire Farm and Forestry Expo at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester this weekend.

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