November 15, 2012

Trees Not Towers Tops $1 Million

As of mid-November, more than 1,000 donors have now made a gift to the Forest Society's Trees Not Towers campaign to disrupt the intended route of the proposed Northern Pass HVDC transmission line. To date more than $1 million has been raised, with $135,000 coming in the door since Nov. 1.

"We're extremely pleased with the response to our recent announcement that we have successfully raised enough to close on two of the four conservation easements that are a blocking action against the Northern Pass intended route," said Jane Difley, president/forester. "It's clear to me that those who value New Hampshire's scenic landscapes are encouraged and want to see us reach our ultimate goal."

Donors come from far and wide, inside and outside the state. The Forest Society has received gifts from 178 different towns across New Hampshire, showing broad, statewide support of the Trees Not Towers effort. Donations have been received from 26 states and three foreign countries. Half of the gifts have come via our website.
The Forest Society must raise $2.5 million to put conservation easements on properties owned by four landowners in northern Coos County. The goal of the campaign is to block Northern Pass from finding a route through some of the state's most scenic landscape in order to begin a genuine discussion of viable alternatives such as burial of transmission lines along transportation corridors or co-locating along an existing HVDC transmission corridor that already runs from Canada to Massachussets.

Public Plea to SB361 Commission on Northern Pass

Although the SB361 Commission was not charged with making any specific determinations regarding the proposed Northern Pass private transmission line, most of the 150 people who showed up at a public hearing in Plymouth made it clear that they were looking for the members of the Commission to hear their concerns that the project is not right for New Hampshire. Union Leader reporter Paula Tracy's story about the hearing can be read here.

The comments from Nancy Martland of Sugar Hill received the most enthusiastic ovation from the crowd of some 150 people at the hearing.

"You are our elected and appointed representatives," Martland said, addressing the members of the SB361 Commission. "You stand for us in the face of the coming onslaught of power transmission through our towns and our state. Individuals and even towns have no power to control or manage the way energy is transported through New Hampshire, but you do, and you owe it to us to take control and manage energy transmission responsibly for the protection of our state’s natural heritage and for our future generations."

"I urge you in the strongest possible terms to look out for our interests," Martland concluded. "I urge you to resist the pressures that have been applied and will continue to be applied by big corporate interests that seek to bully New Hampshire into submission. I urge you to stick to your original recommendation that a moratorium on new construction be implemented and that elective lines must be placed underground."

Martland's complete testimony can be read here.

Burial is an Viable Option Says Draft SB361 Report

According to the draft report of the SB361 Commission, "testimony suggests that underground transmission facilities on appropriate state transportation rights of way may be technically and financially competitive with other transmission designs and locations."

The SB361 Commission was established by the legislature to identify the feasibility of using state-owned transportation corridors for energy infrastructure and, if the commission finds the use of transportation corridors feasible for such use, shall specify which corridors are most appropriate for specific utility infrastructures.

The Commission issued a draft report on Oct. 31, 2012, and subsequently held public hearings to gather input about the draft. At a hearing on Nov. 14, 2012, the Forest Society, along with the Appalachian Mountain Club, Conservation Law Foundation, Conservation New Hampshire and The Nature Conservancy (New Hampshire Chapter) offered a joint letter commenting on the draft. The letter commends the Commission for identifying four existing highway corridors that may serve future energy infrastructure needs, and for identifying key issues that it did not have time to research.

The letter also urged the Commission to consider including additional recommendations, including:
  • Requiring the NH Dept. of Transportation prepare a report identifying which, if any, of the state-owned rail corridors could be added to the list of highway corridors as potentially viable for energy facilities.
  • Amend the Site Evaluation Committee statute to require elective transmission developers to propose an underground alternative if it is proposing to build new overhead transmission lines.
  • Recommend that a task force be appointed by the Governor to continue the research the Commission has begun, specifically to answer the six bulleted items on page five of the draft.