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Romney gets fund-raising aid from official with firm seeking to build controversial power line

An official involved in a controversial power project in New Hampshire is co-chairing a fundraising event for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

According to an invitation provided by the liberal Center for American Progress, Greg Butler, the senior vice president and general counsel for The Northern Pass, is one of the co-chairs of a $500-a-head fundraiser for Romney at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan this Wednesday evening.

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Butler co-chaired another Romney fundraiser in September, and has donated $2,500 to Romney’s presidential campaign.

The Northern Pass project is a product of the NSTAR utility company. The company has proposed a new transmission line from a hydroelectric power facility in Canada to a “power pool” in New England. The project includes the construction of a terminal in Franklin, N.H. and the construction of a new transmission line from Canada, through northern New Hampshire, to Deerfield, N.H.

Northern Pass says the project will lessen reliance on fossil fuels by opening new markets to hydroelectric power.

The project has resulted in fierce opposition across the state, from members of the state’s congressional delegation to state legislators to grassroots activists. Opponents cite the impact on property values and on views from conservation lands. They say there is no guarantee that the project will help New Hampshire.

The opposition led Northern Pass to back away from its preferred route for the transmission line, but it has not yet suggested a new path. Recent negotiations between landowners and Northern Pass, which is said to have threatened to seize land using eminent domain, has inflamed the opposition.

Jack Savage of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, which opposes the project, declined to comment on the Romney fundraiser. But, he said, “Northern Pass and New Hampshire voters’ feelings about it are likely to play a role in every election at least in the next 12 months if not the next three to four years.”

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Romney’s position on the Northern Pass project.

Shira Schoenberg can be reached at
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