Top 5 Reasons to Support or Oppose Proposed “Northern Pass” Transmission Line

Picture Showing Northern Pass Route in New Hampshire as of August 28, 2013

Northern Pass Route in New Hampshire as of August 28, 2013

Note: Northern Pass is a HOT topic in Northern New England. We originally wrote this several years ago as a resource to jump-start a constructive dialogue. We recently noticed that this is perhaps our most popular post. As such, we have updated it to better reflect the current conversation about Northern Pass. 

One of the economic challenges facing Northern New England is very high electricity prices. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as of 2012, the average retail price for electricity were the highest in Vermont at 14.22 cents/kWh (5th highest in the country), followed by  New Hampshire at 14.19 cents/kWh (6th highest in the country) and in Maine at 11.81 cents/kWh (12th highest in the country). This is more than twice as expensive as the lowest cost state in the country–Idaho at 6.92 cents/kWh. 

The proposed $1.4 billion “Northern Pass” transmission line would bring 1,200 megawatts of lower cost, renewable hydro-power from Hydro-Quebec to the New Hampshire/New England electrical grid system.  As shown in the map above, the transmission line would run through the North Country of New Hampshire to a DC-AC converter in Franklin, New Hampshire in the central part of the state.  The transmission line would then be extended to Deerfield, New Hampshire where it would be tied into the larger New England grid.

Let’s face it, 1,200 megawatts of electricity is a lot of power (the equivalent of the Seabrook nuclear facility in southern New Hampshire).  Playing Devil’s Advocate, where else will we turn for that kind of power?  Will Seabrook be expanded?  Wind mills and solar would be more visually appalling than the transmission lines.  We want to encourage a constructive dialogue . . . what’s the alternative?  Please discuss.

After our own examination of the pros and cons, here are our top 5 reasons to support or oppose The Northern Pass:

5 Reasons to Support Northern Pass:

  1. Access to 1,200 megawatts (the equivalent of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station) of lower-carbon, lower-cost, renewable hydro power.
  2. New high-voltage transmission and converter capacity adding needed robustness to the North American power grid to prevent blackouts and even security from terrorist attacks.
  3. The creation of 1,200 new jobs and a new source of property taxes in economically-challenged areas of New Hampshire–$28 million in local, county, and state revenues.
  4. Whether you agree with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or not, it is a reality and this project is needed to met the RGGI goal of a 10 percent reduction in CO2 by 2018.
  5. Would we rather get our power from Canada or from extremely unstable areas such as Iraq/Iran/Russia/Venezuela?

5 Reasons to Oppose Northern Pass:

  1. Negative environmental impact of the towers, right-of-way and construction and of the Canadian hydro-stations/reservoirs.
  2. Negative visual impact which would discourage tourism–the region’s number 1 industry.
  3. Negative health affects from the electro-magnetic radiation on people living nearby and on wildlife.
  4. Hydro-Quebec is a large, state-owned corporation and is collaborating with other mega-corporations to get their way.
  5. The power will just pass through New Hampshire to southern New England with little, if any, impact on high regional prices. 

Additional Northern Pass Opposition:

Are there any pros and cons we have missed? 

Additional journalistic resources about Northern Pass:

See our other informational posts about Northern Pass:

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Please add your thoughtful comment . . .
Soothsayer says:

The token increase in property taxes is overshadowed by the $1 million per mile reduction in property value.

Soothsayer, thanks for the comment. I’m curious as to your source for claiming the loss in property value of $1 million per mile. Most of the Northern Pass is going through existing right-of-way so most of the economic damage to those properties has already occurred. At the margin, NP will result in lower property values but the your estimate sounds too high to me. Though perhaps not for the 40 miles of new transmission line.

Nhcrev says:

Plan Concept Costs not complete; C O P Y

Robert P. Burke Wed, Feb 16, 2011 at 11:07 AM
To: [email protected]
Cc: [email protected]
Reply | Reply to all | Forward | Print | Delete | Show original
Dear Mr. Mills:
Please pass ths communication within your Agency on the Northern Pass Transmission Line Project in New Hampshire.
The cost of a detection and “defense plan” to keep this project operating, because of it’s potential to do great damage to our country, is not included. There are other alternatives.
Your agency may have The War Powers Act, on the N. H. PUC in regards.
References below.
Robert P.Burke
P. O. Box 42
Rye Beach, N. H. 03871
Tom Bearden Book AIDS – EM Wave potential diagrams time released

DVD on “weather” engineering.


Dear Special Agent Brian Coffee:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security should look into taking a “defense” position in regards to the planned Electrical Transmission System under consideration in the NorthEast . The dangers are outlined in the Site of r/Lt. col. Tom Bearden on ice storms/weather engineering in regards to power lines. An opposing opposition story is

An alternative to energy production to promote is safer as it is not a central system to “hit” like the present distribution of power. See the “Trailer”
Robert P. Burke, [email protected]

Shaun says:

There are already existing dc and ac power lines running through central, NH. Specifically from the Moore and Comerford reservoirs in Littleton and Monroe. They do not seem to bother tourism in that area, and in fact most of them are snowmobile trails. I am not saying it is a panacea, but it is a viable option. Clean power. Yet no one wants it in their back yard. Well, it is in my back yard and I have no problem with it. Bring on the windmills too.

Shaun, thanks for the comment. You’re absolutely right about those power lines and they are pretty tall too. They even run by Mountain Lakes which is a large, second-home community marketed to out-of-staters and the power lines haven’t stopped development. Glad to finally get a balancing comment . . . lets keep the discussion rolling and please don’t forget to vote in the sidebar.

Phil says:

I am glad to see that there is a braille key board out there. I HAVE a power line in my back yard and I don’t want more towers twice the height and increase in right of way. Someone suggested to bury it under Interstate 91, goes from Canada to Mass and Ct where the power will be used, no problem with eminent domain and maybe it will help out with electric cars.
If you live in New Hampshire, Northern Pass IS in your Backyard.

Pete says:

What about burying the pass or putting in under the Conn. River? I have researched both, and either would be feasible, safe and affordable. Submarine cables have been in use for many years in the U.S., Canada, Europe and elsewhere. Whenever you ask PSNH about it, they say they can’t afford it, never heard of it, blah, blah, blah. Hydro Quebec is footing the bill for the Northern Pass project and they have $68 billion in assets and make over $2 billion every year in profits. Of course they can afford it. NH can’t afford Northern Pass. HQ can afford to bury it. Pete

Pete, thanks for the comment. Those options should definitely be on the table. Though I’m not sure how feasible putting it under the CT river would be since they ultimately want/need to connect in Franklin/Deerfield which isn’t exactly next door. At the very least, maybe there is room for compromise where the “most sensitive” view-sheds get underground cables and the rest remain overhead?

Don Johnson says:

Just a passing thought. It seems to me I learned about a cable that runs from Nova Scotia, or Newfoundland to England. Oh YEAH, that’s right they call it the Trans-Atlantic Cable. HHhmmmmm, have we really stopped teaching history? Yes, DUH, I know it’s a communication cable. My point goes directly to feasibility. Back to the relavant point. Highway medians are readily available access for transmission lines, as well as the CT river. To feed Franklin/Deerfield, you didn’t specify if you are referring to Franklin and Deerfield, NH or MA. But it seems to me Franklin, NH and Deerfield, MA are accessible via nearby rivers.

Don Johnson says:

I totally on board with you, Pete.

Randy says:

I own and operate a tourism eco adventure business in Lincoln/Woodstock. This will definitely negatively impact our business as well as tourism as a whole!! This is FOREIGN power! Above the question is would we rather rely on Canada or Saudi arabia for power? The answer is NIETHER!!!! This project thwarts NH’s efforts to generate its own power. Not to mention health reasons and the fact that this will permanently SCAR our most beautiful mountainous region of the state!! I thought we were supposed to leave things better for our kids??? STAND UP AS AMERICANS AND FIGHT THIS !!!!!!

Randy, thanks for the comment. Though I’m curious as to what options you think are best for “NH’s efforts to generate its own power.” If NH develops its own hydro-power or wind power, that too will scar the landscape–especially the North Country where most of those resources are located. The only real option to replace 1,200 megawatts of power would be to expand Seabrook (nuclear) which doesn’t seem likely either. Vermont is already compounding New England’s power woes by proposing to shut down Vermont Yankee (nuclear). So it’s not clear to me what the other options are?