Hard to fathom Mass. OK of Northern Pass in face of such opposition
Why did Eversource’s controversial Northern Pass project ever get picked from among all of the bidders in Massachusetts’ “clean energy” effort? Northern Pass was opposed by virtually every constituent interest in New Hampshire, including landowners, municipalities, environmental organizations, and a significant number of legislators and county commissioners (“Transmission line’s setback could be fatal,” Page A1, Feb. 3). The opposition in New Hampshire should have been taken into account, and the possible denial of the permit by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee should have been anticipated.
Moreover, it is hard to believe that Judith Judson, Massachusetts’ Department of Energy Resources commissioner, didn’t know that the Site Evaluation Committee appeal process in New Hampshire would take at least another year, no matter who won or lost the permit battle. There simply was no way Northern Pass could be in service by 2020.
Beyond that, if Northern Pass were ever to get a permit. there were certain to be landowner lawsuits over the use of existing rights of way and other legal battles over permitting of the use of town-maintained roads. All of this was flagged in the final briefs of the various opposition parties in the Site Evaluation Committee proceedings, which were filed more than three weeks ago.
Did Judson have her marching orders before the so-called evaluation process began? As the people of New Hampshire have known for a long time, one should never take a representation by Eversource at face value. And here, verification of the facts on the ground would have been easy.
The writer is an attorney who represents opponents of the Northern Pass project and is an opponent himself.
Baker gets a do-over — other, better bids deserve attention
Now that New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee has decisively rejected Eversource’s Northern Pass proposal, the Baker administration should waste no time in advancing the best of the other 46 bids for delivering clean energy.
Unlike the failed Northern Pass project, whose sole energy source was hydropower imported from Quebec, most of the proposals received by the Department of Energy Resources include solar or wind components, or both. Significantly, many of the bidders have proposed energy storage, either by batteries or other means, to address the question of variability. And because the preponderance of the wind and solar generation would be located in New England or New York, most of the projects in competition with Northern Pass would keep more jobs and dollars within our borders.
So, the Baker administration gets a do-over. This time it should incorporate some genuinely clean domestic energy supported by neighboring states. Relying exclusively on Big Hydro from Canada was never the best option.
Next order of business: a carbon tax
Anyone who regularly reads the Concord Monitor of New Hampshire sensed that permitting for the Northern Pass project wasn’t going to be a slam-dunk. Guarantees that it would be built quickly were pregame trash talk.
In Nebraska, landowning ranchers and environmentalists of all political stripes united against the Keystone XL pipeline. In Georgia, landowners and environmentalists have pushed their state to call a timeout for more than one pipeline. In New Hampshire, landowners, environmentalists, leaders of 29 towns along the route, and 95 percent of statements received from individuals opposed the plan.
Massachusetts wasted valuable time choosing a losing plan.
Instead, our government should enact a carbon tax to encourage residents to decide how they’ll lower their transportation emissions. It would also push homeowners and businesses to decide how to use less heating oil and gas.
Unfortunately, humans need a carbon tax to push us to reduce our carbon footprints. We don’t do what’s good for us without a coach reminding us.
Also, as a carbon tax cuts transportation and heating emissions, it would reduce pressure to make electricity decisions.
Let’s send the utilities back to the drawing board for more in-state renewables projects and already-permitted out-of-state projects.