October 30, 2012

Two Down, Two to Go

Forest Society successfully raises enough to close two of four easements to block Northern Pass. Discussions with additional landowners are ongoing.

As of Monday, Oct. 29, we have successfully raised $868,500 for the Trees Not Towers campaign, enough to close on two of four conservation easements that will keep Northern Pass towers and powerlines from being built on the protected acreage.

“We are working on the due diligence required to close all the transactions,” said Jane Difley. “We are scheduling the closings over the winter, with the first to occur in December.” 

Fundraising to complete the Trees Not Towers campaign to thwart Northern Pass will continue into the new year. Donations can be made via Forest Society website at www.forestsociety.org

“A number of key donors of told us that it would be helpful to be able to make donations in the 2013 tax year,” said Susanne Kibler-Hacker, vice president of development for the Forest Society. “landowners have signed purchase-and-sale agreements that enable us to meet our donors’ requests.”

The Forest Society also continues to engage additional landowners in the effort to thwart Northern Pass.

“As our blocking action falls into place, we fully expect Northeast Utilities and PSNH to attempt to squirm their way through in some other fashion,” said Will Abbott, vice president of policy/land management. “Other landowners are coming forward, and we are working with them to strengthen the block.”

Our goal is to stop Northern Pass as proposed in the North Country in order to protect 180 miles of New Hampshire, including the White Mountains, from the unnecessary blight of more than 1100 towers,” Difley said. “Northern Pass’s proposal is outdated, and stopping them from moving forward would appear to be the only way to start a serious discussion of more common-sense ways to transmit electricity, such as burial along transportation corridors.”

October 26, 2012

Why Support the Trees Not Towers Campaign to Thwart Northern Pass?

For this house, this generation of the families from Quebec and now New Hampshire, these grandchildren, this is a very simplistic debate. All collateral discussion aside, who owns the environmental quality of our lives? The citizens of New Hampshire or the faceless holders of the equity line on the balance sheets of companies like Hydro-Quebec and NU.

Steven Dionne
Laconia, NH

Trees Not Towers Challenge Met!

Thanks to 25 first-time donors to the Forest Society from as far away as California, the matching gift challenge has been met! The campaign continues to draw support from a wide geographic area that includes 23 states and 2 foreign countries. It is gratifying to see that the New Hampshire landscape is so important to so many people!  Thank you to all who are contributing to this success!

October 25, 2012

$827K and Climbing

Thanks to a steady stream of online gifts the Forest Society's campaign to block the intended route of Northern Pass is at $827,000 as of Oct. 24.

"We're encouraged by the increasing number of donations," said Susanne Kibler-Hacker, vp of development. "That tells us that we can be successful in reaching our goal."

To date 810 donations have been made to thwart Northern Pass by putting conservation easements on 1800 acres that disrupt the route Hydro Quebec, Northeast Utilities and PSNH had hoped to use. Forty-six percent of those gifts have been made via the web.

"We've seen a notable number of anonymous gifts from the Manchester area," Kibler-Hacker said.
"It's also interesting and encouraging to note that gifts have been coming in from out-of-state as well," said Kibler-Hacker,"as landowners and other people with family connections to New Hampshire get the word that we can block Northern Pass from using their intended route."

To date the 810 donations include gifts from 23 different states from Florida to California to Maine, plus two international gifts.

Northeast Utilities application for a presidential permit to cross the US/Canada boundary with its proposed private high-voltage transmission line has been on hold since June 2011 due to their inability to secure a route in the face of strong public opposition.

October 22, 2012

Trees Not Towers Gains Momentum

From Monday's Union Leader:

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests has raised almost $800,000 for its campaign to block the project’s intended path in the North Country.

“We’re seeing a lot of grassroots support,” said Susanne Kibler-Hacker, vice president for development at the Forest Society. “Most important, the momentum is building as we approach our Oct. 31 deadline. We’re anticipating some larger grants in the final days of the campaign, but we still have a gap to fill.”

To read Paula Tracy's story in full click here.

October 17, 2012

Matching Gift Challenge for New Trees Not Towers Donors

If you are not already a supporter of the Forest Society and you give now, your gift will have double the impact. We have a generous donor who will match gifts to the Trees Not Towers Campaign from first-time Forest Society donors, up to $1,000.

You can  help us secure this extra $1,000 contribution to the campaign by making a credit card contribution using the "Donate Now!" link on the right side of this page, or sending a check made out to Forest Society with Trees Not Towers on the memo line to:
Forest Society, 54 Portsmouth Street, Concord, NH 03301.

For information on making a stock gift, please contact Susanne Kibler-Hacker at skhacker@forestsociety.org. Thank you for helping us to thwart Northern Pass!

October 15, 2012

SB361: Getting the 'runaround' from Northern Pass

If we really needed to bring Canadian electricity to the southern New England market, you'd think Northeast Utilities and PSNH would jump at the chance to work with the state to secure the use of transportation rights-of-way to do so. Instead they have stonewalled explorations of any alternative to their Northern Pass overhead transmission line proposal, which just happens to include the idea of using 140 miles of PSNH distribution line right-of-way.

Reporter Annmarie Timmins reported in the Oct. 14 Concord Monitor on the frustrations of Sen. Jeanie Forrester, who is heading up the commission created via SB361 to study the possibility of burying transmission lines along existing transportation corridors.

According to Timmins' article companies and state agencies including Unitil, National Grid, the state Department of Transportation and state tax officials have responded to the commission's request for information.

But from Northern Pass, Forrester says, "We are getting a lot of runaround. We are not getting a lot of hard information."

To read minutes of the SB361 commission (aka the Commission to Study the Feasibility of Establishing Energy Infrastructure), visit Sen. Forrester's website here.

October 12, 2012

$650K and Climbing Thanks to 99% Claim

The Forest Society's Trees Not Towers campaign to thwart Northern Pass with conservation easements that block the intended route is getting an unexpected boost this week. Donors reacting to claims by Northeast Utilities that they have "about 99 percent of the property necessary to announce a new proposed route" through New Hampshire's North Country and south through Groveton, Plymouth, Franklin, Concord and on to Deerfield have made the total raised-to-date up to $650,000 towards the $2.5 million goal.
The more than $200K in donations is the most of any week since the campaign began. The deadline is Oct. 31. Donations can be made online here, or by calling Susanne Kibler-Hacker at 224-9945.

The intended route itself is no great mystery--if you're interested in seeing their intended route through northern Coos County, click here to see a map based on the lands and rights-of-way they've acquired to the tune of about $20 million. From Groveton to Franklin to Concord to Deerfield they propose to add towers up to 135-feet high and transmission lines along an existing PSNH distribution line ROW. In the White Mountain National Forest, where a Special Use Permit is required, they propose to replace the existing 50-60 foot wooden pole structures with two sets of metal towers extending well above average tree height at 85 feet.

All of which is moot if they can't get from point A to point B across conserved lands. Stay tuned as additional donations toward our Trees Not Towers blocking action are in the works.

October 11, 2012

Campaign to Block Northern Pass Hits $500K

The Forest Society's campaign to block the proposed Northern Pass transmission line by working with willing landowners to put conservation easements on land that interrupts the intended route continues to make steady progress. As of the beginning of this week, more than 400 donors have contributed over $500,000 towards the $2.5 million goal. If successful, conservation easements would be put on more than 1800 acres, preventing transmission towers or lines from crossing those lands now or any time in the future.
"By blocking Hydro Quebec, Northeast Utilities and PSNH from using northern New Hampshire as a transmission mega-corridor we stand a good chance of stopping it from happening across 180 miles of the state all the way south to Deerfield," said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society.

Questions Posed About Fairness of Northern Pass Permitting Process

Will the federal review of Northern Pass be the fair, objective, and open process that New Hampshire deserves? Or is the game rigged in the developer’s favor yet again? These are two key questions that the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), among others, is asking pointedly following discoveries of potential bias from documents CLF obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. You can read the CLF's concerns as articulated by Christophe Courchesne here. Or read reporter Paula Tracy's story in the Union Leader here.
Northern Pass needs a Presidential Permit to cross the US/Canada border, a process that is overseen by the federal Department of Energy. You can find the DOE's information about that process here. It's important that the data gathered to inform the Presidential Permit decision is fair and accurate because it will likely also inform decisions by the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC).

October 6, 2012

"Benefits" of Northern Pass Challenged

"Although federal approvals of the 180-mile high-voltage transmission line are on hold pending establishment of a right-of-way from the Canadian border to Groveton, debate over projected costs and benefits of Northern Pass has not slowed."
In this New Hampshire Business Review article, Maureen D. Smith highlights two studies that question the economic benefits of the proposed Northern Pass transmission line touted by Northeast Utilities and Hydro Quebec. Read more here.
The studies in question include the June 2012 report, "Electricity Market Impacts of the Northern Pass Transmission Project," by PA Consulting, who reached far less rosy conclusions than a similar analysis commissioned by Charles River Associates commssioned by Northern Pass itself; and  "Job Impacts in New Hampshire from Construction of the Proposed Northern Pass High-Voltage Transmission Line," in which Dover-based PolEcon Research concluded that job impacts from the project would be about half of Northern Pass estimates and would be temporary.

October 5, 2012

NH Gov candidates Both Concerned about Northern Pass

The candidates for governor found common ground yesterday on the Northern Pass project, with Republican Ovide Lamontagne and Democrat Maggie Hassan both expressing concerns about the controversial plan to transfer hydropower from Quebec to the New England electricity grid on power lines through the North Country. Read the full story by Ben Leubsdorf in the Concord Monitor.

October 3, 2012

NU Stock Gift Lifts Trees Not Towers

The Forest Society's campaign to thwart more than 1100 towers that would erected across180 miles of New Hampshire landscape got a lift from an ironic source this week: a $5000 gift of Northeast Utilities stock. NU and it's subsidiary, PSNH, are partnering with Canadian crown corporation Hydro Quebec to propose the private HVDC transmission line known as Northern Pass.

The anonymous donor said she was "tickled pink--and maybe a little orange" to be able to make the gift of NU stock to go towards thwarting the company's Northern Pass proposal. The stock will be sold and the $5000 will be added to the growing Trees Not Towers fund that will be used to conserve some 1800 acres that disrupt the intended route of the private transmission line.

The $5000 gift lifted the total to date over $400K, to $402,500. Nearly 400 donation have been made so far. The deadline to raise $2.5 million to conserve the land and thwart the Nothern Pass threat is Oct. 31.