GCRC Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner 4/12/12

Republican Gubernatorial Candidates Kevin Smith and Ovide Lamontagne speaking at the Lincoln-Reagan Dinner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g5Cloqjur0

Alliance Against Northern Pass members, Tom Mullen, Heather McLean and George Wright attended the Grafton County Republican Committee, Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner at the Indian Head Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire this past Thursday evening, April 13th.  The keynote speaker for the evening was United States Senator, Kelly Ayotte. Other noteworthy speakers in attendance were Republican candidates for Governor of New Hampshire, Kevin Smith and Ovide Lamontagne, along with Executive Councilor Raymond Burton, Grafton County Commissioner, Omer Ahern Jr. and numerous members of the New Hampshire Legislature.

With respect to the Northern Pass project, Gubernatorial Candidate, Kevin Smith spoke first and began by promising, if elected, to lower New Hampshire’s electric rates, which are some of the highest in the country. He said that he is adamantly opposed to the Northern Pass project, as proposed, and that as an avid supporter of private property rights, he would do everything humanly possible, should the project try to move forward, to keep the Northern Pass from gaining the power of eminent domain. He also advocated burying the cables in order to save the “North Country” from visual blight and other negative effects the towers could bring.

Another Republican candidate for governor, Ovide Lamontagne, whose law firm happens to also represent PSNH and the Northern Pass project, stated that the Northern Pass needs to bury all of its cables underground and that no towers should ever be erected. Lamontagne also stated that he is in favor of having PSNH enter into a Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) guaranteeing that New Hampshire will receive the potentially low cost power first in the case of any major outages, and that without such a PPA, the project should not move forward.  To be fair, Lamontagne has recently asserted that within his law firm, he has formally distanced himself from any and all matters pertaining to Northern Pass and PSNH and the Alliance has no reason to believe otherwise.

Senator Kelly Ayotte, with much of her attention focused on matters in Washington DC, is slightly more distanced from Northern Pass issues than Candidates Lamontagne and Smith. With this thought in mind, Alliance member, Tom Mullen asked her what she specifically would advise former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to do in the event that he becomes the next President of the United States, and in that capacity, is asked to issue a Presidential Permit allowing the Northern Pass to move forward. Senator Ayotte’s response to Mullen, with the hint of a smile passing her lips, was that she would tell Romney that New Hampshire doesn’t want the project to cross the Canadian border unless it’s buried. She also suggested that Romney would probably be more open to receiving advice about the project from the next New Hampshire “Republican” Governor (emphasis added). The Alliance Against Northern Pass supposes that such a partisan comment is to be expected and to some extent, tolerated at a strictly Republican gathering.

This particular blog for the Alliance Against Northern Pass is meant to be non-partisan, even though the Alliance was attending an admittedly partisan event. The information herein, specific to the Northern Pass, is provided in order to inform our readers, regardless of party affiliation, about what’s going on with the Northern Pass project, now and going forward. It is apparent that all of the major candidates are listening carefully to North Country citizens, and they are crafting their campaigns’ appeal to address the overwhelming opposition to the project. The Alliance applauds these gubernatorial candidates’ efforts and comments regarding the Northern Pass and it will hold these candidates firmly to their words.

Now, to add some editorial commentary on Ovide Lamontagne’s statement that PSNH should have a Purchase Power Agreement in place to assure that a significant amount of the power slated to go through New Hampshire would be readily available to New Hampshire customers at very competitive rates and would continue to service New Hampshire customers on a priority basis should there be outages or shortages, this presents a unique and interesting quandary for PSNH, and in turn, the candidates!  Part of the fear of allowing foreign power into New Hampshire is who, in times of outages or shortages will Hydro-Quebec and PSNH take care of first?  Clarification and specifics on these issues and questions from Candidates Lamontagne and Smith, and all other gubernatorial candidates as well, would help New Hampshire voters come to grips with who they might support in the upcoming election. Would the PPA be with Hydro Quebec?  Would it be enforceable to require Hydro-Quebec to attend to New Hampshire’s needs first if an outage problem originates across the border? And really, the larger issue is, the power is not really for New Hampshire’s consumers.  Why should New Hampshire put up with the downsides of the project if it gets none of the project’s supposed benefits?

At the present moment, as many of New Hampshire’s landowners are being asked, and in some cases, are being coerced into supporting the Northern Pass project, the Alliance is struggling with the reality that if PSNH has not addressed it’s own customer’s needs, why should New Hampshirites tolerate the damages the Northern Pass will inflict on our state when there are no apparent benefits from the project to our state and it’s citizen’s?

These are serious questions and issues for all the Gubernatorial Candidates to address as they move forward with their campaigns. Issues surrounding the Northern Pass project are paramount in the minds of citizens throughout our state. As town after town discovers the extent of the havoc that will be visited upon them by huge towers, miles of thick dangling cables, plunging property values, requests for tax abatements and the inability of property owners to sell or even refinance their homes, the truths about the horrors of the Northern Pass will come home to roost, even down south where the realities of the project have not fully hit home.  Northern Pass is certainly the most controversial and potentially damaging project to be visited on our state since the Seabrook nuclear plant was first proposed.  The Alliance Against Northern Pass hopes that as it brings these issues forward, all candidates for state  and local office will listen to the citizens’ voices and that all the citizens’ concerns about Northern Pass will be heard and acted upon in a fashion that safeguards their rights and that preserves all that is precious about New Hampshire.