In the crowd of around 250 people that filled the Franklin Opera House Monday night for the first Northern Pass Public Information Session, a few dozen stood out. Opponents of the Northern Pass project were decked out in blaze orange vests, hats, and shirts that reiterated their oppositional mantra of “Trees Not Towers,” while supporters of the Northern Pass project donned dark blue shirts reading: “Support Clean Energy. Support Northern Pass.”
At the hearing, Eversource Energy President Bill Quinlan explained the $1.6 billion proposal before taking questions from the crowd.
Amongst questions concerned with how the transmission lines would affect health and property value; the main topic of the night was focused on burying the lines, specifically why Eversource didn’t plan on burying the entire line.
Julie Moran, a firm opponent of the Northern Pass, told Quinlan that if Eversource would bury the entire $1.6 billion, 1090 megawatt, 192-mile transmission line then the opposition would become supporters.
“This whole sea of orange would turn to blue,” Moran said to audience applause.
Quinlan answered her question by saying that the current proposal is already a compromise, while also discussing the economic infeasibility of complete burial of the line.
“We’ve been trying to strike a balance between a project that’s affordable and that, when it can, addresses resident concerns,” Quinlan said. Burying the other 132 miles, he said, could add an extra $1 billion in cost, or between $5 million and $10 million per mile.
In closing Quinlan stated that, “This is the single best project to replace aging and retiring energy plants.”
In addition to Quinlan, Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield, a huge advocate of the project, thanked the SEC for coming to Franklin while discussing the benefits of the expected $7.5 million in property tax revenue that would be generated from the project. Some of the benefits would include improving city services and boosting economic development.
Merrifield ended on an optimistic note, stating that if the project is approved Franklin “may well see a second golden age. It’s an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Merrifield concluded.
One of the proudest moments of the night was when our very own Tiler Eaton spoke on behalf of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 104 and the 2,600 ‘real jobs’ that the Northern Pass would bring.
All in all, the first Public Information Session went well, generating good discussion between all interested parties.
Also, as a reminder, if you are in Rockingham County near Londonderry, please make your best effort to participate in the second NHSEC Public Information Session tonight at Londonderry High School, 295 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, New Hampshire.
Northern Pass: For you, for the economy, for New England, for the future