February 8, 2011

NH bill hearing turns into power project session

A legislative hearing Tuesday on a bill that proposed changes to New Hampshire's renewable energy law morphed into a public information session about a project that would carry hydroelectric power from Canada to New England.

Opponents to the Northern Pass Project, many of them from New Hampshire's North Country, traveled by bus to Concord and held a news conference, then crowded into a House committee hearing room to discuss their concerns about the bill.

They said the bill gave a boost to the project, which would clear about 40 miles of new power line thorough forestland and include high-elevation towers.

Sponsor Richard Barry, R-Merrimack, said that his bill dealt with adding hydroelectric power projects to the mix, but that it had nothing to do with the Northern Pass.

Gary Long, president of Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities -- one of the project collaborators -- said an analysis of the proposed economic benefits shows increased tax revenues for the communities and an estimated 1,200 construction jobs over several years, plus lower electric rates.

"I think we're very fortunate to have neighbors to the north, that have vast resources, vast waterways that they can use to create renewable energy," Long said.

Hydro-Quebec is also paying for the costs of the line, he said. "You and I do not have to pay a cent," he said.

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