First Meeting For The Undergrounding Commission

Today in room 100 of the statehouse in Concord, the first meeting for the commission to study the feasibility of creating an underground energy corridor through the state of New Hampshire got underway at 10:00 am. The meeting was for organizational purposes only to set future goals and guidelines.

The ultimate future goal: put the Northern Pass and other large scale high voltage transmission projects underground, along already softened roadways and railroad beds that connect throughout the state. It is my understanding that the commission would eventually write binding laws to enforce the burial of  future high voltage transmission projects, along the established energy corridor. Projects that may want to bring more energy through New Hampshire and into the southern regions of New England. The bonus for the state is much needed revenue in the form of rent that would help to build and maintain infrastructure within the state. The bonus for the people: no towers, no loss of property value, no health effects from EMF radiation when the lines are buried, no scenic blight.

Sounds great right? Well, PSNH does not want the Northern Pass to be buried, preferring instead to build 85-135 foot towers on their current ROW, leaving a permanent scar across the entire state, while extracting property value from businesses and private homes, imposing health effects from long-term EMF radiation exposure on anyone who lives near the line, and scenic blight. Hopefully, the commission can stop this project from erecting these metal lattice towers across the state.

The Commission:

State Senator Jeanie Forrester

Karen Monahan – Energy manager, NH Dept. of Adminstrative services

Stephen Hamilton – Director of property appraisal division, NH Dept. Revenue Administration

Susan Thorne – State Energy Program, NH office Energy and Planning

Benoit L. Lamontagne – Industrial Agent, NH Dept. Resources Economic Division

Representative Laurence Rappaport

Representative Jaqueline Cali-Pitts

Michael Pillsbury – Deputy Commissioner, Department of Transportation (DOT)

Vicki Quiram – Assistant Commissioner, NH Dept. of Environmental Services

Vicki Quirum was absent. Ann Ross, General Counsel for the NH Public Utilities Commission (PUC), temporarily stood in for PUC Commissioner, Robert R. Scott, who will be replaced to avoid any conflict of interest.

Jeanie Forrester is the chairperson of the commission and encouraged public input. In the original bill, SB 361, Senator Forrester requested that there be 7 members of the public on the commission. This was shot down in Governor’s office… Instead, Senator Forrester spent the time to ask the public viewers for questions and comments.

The commission will address certain issues as they seek an energy corridor through the state. The general issues are as follows:

  • establishing a viable energy corridor to bury large scale electric transmission projects through the state.
  • Researching property values affected by the Northern Pass route.
  • Eliminating health risks of overhead high voltage transmission lines through burial of cables.
  • State revenue opportunity.
  • Providing a transparent and public report of progress to the people.
  • Investigating reliability of overhead versus buried transmission lines in severe weather.

The next two meetings will be Thursday August 16th and 30th, with time TBA. The public is encouraged to attend.