Northern Pass

June 5, 2011 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

All over my area of New Hampshire a new crop is popping out of the ground. It’s called the “NO NORTHERN PASS” sign. What is Northern Pass you ask? It’s a project by Northeast Utilities and NSTAR. These corporations want to build 180 mile line of towers, 130 feet high and a corridor to 410 feet in width through New Hampshire’s forests of 31 towns, from Quebec to Franklin, New Hampshire. The purpose is to bring hydro power to southern New England. New Hampshire will not be able to access the power running through our forest.

From my research this is what I’ve come across:

[The project is] a jointly owned venture of Connecticut based Northeast Utilities and Massachusetts based NSTAR, both public utility companies, seeks Presidential Permit approval to construct an above-ground, 140 mile long 350 kV HVDC power transmission line to transmit up to 1200 MW of hydro-electric power generated by Hydro-Quebec, located in Canada, to a power converter station located in Franklin, NH. The HVDC will then be converted to AC and connected to a network power distribution grid in Deerfield, NH for further distribution. Pursuant to 18 C.F.R. § 385.214 and the Application for Presidential Permit-Northern Pass Transmission LLC, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) respectfully moves to intervene in opposition to the Application as submitted in the above-captioned proceeding. (source)


The transmission line would enter NH from Quebec near Pittsburg, NH, requiring 45 miles of new corridor; traverse approximately 10 miles of the White Mountain National Forest, crossing the Appalachian Trail and passing within 4 miles of Lonesome Lake Hut and within a 1/2-mile of Eliza Brook shelter; (source).


A paper published by Robert Johnson of Smarter Grid Consulting*, a consulting company dedicated to fact based research and analysis, states this about the Northern Pass project, “The bottom line is a private company is asking New Hampshire to provide a right of way through its National Forests and wild lands, diminishing its economically important tourist trade and depriving citizens of their lands; to what end?” (source)

There is lots of opposition to Northern Pass for a variety of reasons. Many feel it’ll be a scar on the landscape thus reducing tourist dollars (the second largest employer in NH). Some oppose because the power companies will be able to use eminent domain to acquire the properties along the route. Opposition also comes from those who use the land to employ themselves such as loggers. Still more opposition comes from those who feel the US should not rely on foreign power as will be the case. Me? Well, I oppose it for all the reasons above. And because it’ll run through my place of worship: the northern woods.

I stated all this when I called my elected officials last week. First I touched upon how it’ll run right through my town, how it’ll create short term jobs but not long term ones, be a scar on our landscape, and how I feel getting off our electric addiction is important. One official asked me what my solution is to the US’ increased power needs so I explained how all our electronic gadgets are not necessary, they are desired to keep up with the Jones’ and that the answer is LESS not MORE. (Sound a little familiar? Need and want: This discussion fits nicely into that post!)

Mostly, however, “it would destroy my place of worship. No one would think of putting a tower on Saint Paul’s in Franklin” I said “why would you think of putting a tower in the place I commune with my deities?” Not one official had a response to that.

At the same time, I responded to Northern Pass EIS’ online survey:

I oppose the Northern Pass.

Aside from the fact New Hampshire will not benefit from the electricity carried through to southern New England states, and aside from the fact 140 foot towers will be built to suspend the lines in the air, and aside from the fact my property will be affected, I think it’s high time the US starts solving their own damned energy problems instead of relying on foreign energy to power our PDAs, cellphones, TVs, computers, and other electric devices such as dishwashers, washing machines, hot water heaters, and blow dryers.

Local power sources, including water, solar, and wind are the answer to the power riddle. And, more importantly, reducing corporate, governmental, and individuals power needs is really what our planet and local fauna and flora need not 180 miles of towers defiling our planet.

This project will not just scar New Hampshire. It’ll scar Quebec also. And, if an alternative route is taken to build the towers, then Vermont may well be damaged. I don’t want an alternative route because I don’t want to see any of our landscape desecrated. Rather, I would like to see this project scrapped all together. Reducing our energy needs is the answer not increasing them.

Lots and lots of resources for you to peruse:

Live Free or Fry

Discussion forum on Northern Pass

New Leaf Turing: Northern Pass (The Buck)

Town of Landaff

Maine Public Broadcasting

Real Clear Politics

Appalacian Mountain Club News

The Tip Sheet

New Hampshire Lakes and Mountains

City of Franklin

The Union Leader

The Union Leader

Conservation Law Foundation

Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust

Upper Valley Land Trust

Northern Woodlands

NH Watch Dog

Congressman Charles Bass (R-NH)

Northern Pass Project Journal

Concord Monitor

Concord Monitor


Bury the Northern Pass

The Wire NH

Town of Holderness (PDF)

Society for the Proctection of New Hampshire Forests


Public Service of New Hampshire

Blue Hampshire

Northern Pass YouTube

Trees Not Towers

The Northern Pass EIS

New Hampshire Business Review

NH Sentinel Source

NH Public Radio

Edited to add: if you are looking for No Northern Pass signs and other paraphernalia, please contact Atta Girls Record. They have all the swag you need to oppose Northern Pass.

Comment Feed

20 Responses

  1. This sounds a lot of run of the mill NIMBY rhetoric with exception of the fact that you, contrary to most people, are willing to take an active role in reducing their dependence on centralized electrical distribution thus reducing the need for projects like this.

    So what is your practical short-term alternative given that the Eastern Grid needs more transmission lines and the existing lines are already running at or near capacity? Just to be clear: convincing more people to be like you is neither practical nor short-term.

    What we did down here in Texas is while they’re building the Central Texas Turnpike system, the land being cleared for the highway is also being used for some transmission lines. Admittedly, new paths were ripped up in the middle of farm country to put up new transmission lines down here on the Texas Grid.

    Maybe you could propose that these lines be built along the Interstate Highways as they are already cleared tracts of land and right-of-way may already exist for this to happen. Also, something tells me you aren’t worshipping on the side of a highway anyway. Granted, it would require a level of inter-agency cooperation I rarely see outside Texas – but it’s an idea that is both practical and short term. I’m sure there are highways in NH that go North to South ;).

  2. Almost all the highways in NH go north/south. It’s fairly difficult to go east/west in northern New England. Getting to Maine from Vermont is a nightmare!

    What does “NIMBY” stand for?

    While the lines may need to be upgraded, this project is about adding more towers and making them almost twice the size of those already standing.

  3. NIMBY == Not In My Back Yard

  4. Hello! There are a number of inaccuracies in the post. I offer these corrections in the spirit of providing factual information that may assist you in understanding the project:
    The majority of structures will be in the range of 80 – 90 feet tall. The 130′ structures will be the exception, not the rule.
    And, the width of the required right of way is not 410 feet.
    We are focused on utilizing current rights of way, where power lines already exist, for the project – with the exception of ~ 40 miles in the far north, where no transmission lines exist. In that area, the project would require a 150 foot wide right of way, with structures in the range of 80 – 90 feet high.
    I understand that you may still oppose this project, even after seeing these corrections; but, I do feel it’s important that you have a true understanding of it.
    You also state that “…we will not be able to access…” the power from these lines. That is not true. ALL power generated or imported into New England becomes part of the regional “power pool.” All customers – you, me, everyone – in New England then draws their needed energy from the pool. The energy transmitted along The Northern Pass will be utilized by New Hampshire, and every other New England state.
    A key factor is this: because 1,200 megawatts (enough to power one million homes) of renewable energy from Quebec is in the pool … 1,200 megawatts of some form of more expensive energy will not be. That will result in millions of dollars of reduced costs, for everyone in New England; and, millions of tons of reduction of carbon emissions.
    Thanks for takng the time to read this!

  5. Thank you for replying Mr. Murray. I appreciate the corrections. After all, I do want to report accurate information. That said, while researching tower heights I came across many different numbers. And it was the same with the width of the corridor. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus.

    Usage of current right of ways will still negatively affect the properties along the corridor, including mine. I wonder, will your property be affected Mr. Murray?

    It is my goal to get off the power grid. I do not like using nuclear power to generate the electricity my home uses. I have done many things to reduce my consumption of electricity. And while this project will connect New England, specifically New Hampshire, to Hydro-Quebec, I don’t think using foreign power is the answer to our energy needs.

    Further, hydro power is all well and good until rivers are damned up. Look at what happened in (Iran. That is just one example of hydro gone wrong.

  6. Greetings Howling Hill. I too live near Northern Pass’s proposed route. I think perhaps Dave from Texas does not realize how small and rural it is here-the nearest interstate about an hour away, and the Connecticut River valley only a mile wide at best, between the mountains on either side. Towers and power lines, corridors etc, no matter what height or width will have an impact-visual, social and ecological. We all know Hydro-Quebec is an ecological/social quagmire. We all know that conservation is the best answer, even if it seems quixotic to pursue. We know that someone will make a profit from this. We know that we are in one of the poorest, most rural areas in our state.
    Also one of the most beautiful. I don’t know many people with the NIMBY attitude; i think it is just that everyone feels it is a bad idea from so many angles. Why aren’t the companies with money[hundreds of millions to build NP] doing more to promote conservation and alternative energy? [No profit in it?] Making power cheaper does not give anyone incentive to use less. Power would be extemely expensive if we factored in the true costs to the environment. Why does it always have to be more, more,more? And so the land suffers. And that is what makes me sad.

  7. I’m totally with you, Entwife. Why do people automatically assume that more = better, especially when it so clearly isn’t? Hasn’t the planet been developed ENOUGH? Is the unspoken goal really to develop, build on, or pave over every square foot of the earth? Because that is what is happening, and at a greatly accelerating rate.

    We don’t need “energy” to survive – no humans did for 99% of our species’ existence. We don’t need any of that “development”. We never did. I think it’s way past time to stand up and say enough is enough. STOP.

  8. The one with the NIMYB attitude is Connecticut… where the power is headed. It’s not for New Hampshire. What is so ironic, and downright discusting is that the power is for a state that has banned exactly the type of structures in their state that they are talking about cursing us with. If you don’t allow them in your state (and you are the ones who will be getting the benefit), why should we be curse with them???

  9. Oops…S/B “NIMBY attitude”

  10. To all the senators that voted to re-refer HB648 (the bill protecting private landowners from the use of eminent domain by private, for profit, companies).

    I ask.

    What if you were under the threat of losing your land by eminent domain to a huge, foreign, billion dollar, company?…

    How would you feel if your elected officials stood up to all the presure/greed and did the honorable thing and passed a bill protecting you rights?…

    How would you feel if your elected officials caved into all the pressure/greed and turned their backs on you and did not protect your rights?…

  11. I am a resident of Stratford, N.H.and the proposed power lines would be within a half mile of my Home. Stratford does stand to add to it’s tax base from this project, at least to start. That decreases with time as the value of the lines goes down. Under stand that this is a “Private Company” that wants to “Own” a large part of our Preserves and Forests. It wants to use the power of the Courts to do so. New Hampshire is adding Wind Power in the North Country this year that will max out the grid here. New Hampshire produces a surplus of power now. Excess is shipped South. We are are already doing our share. Enough is enough! Hollowwood


    • I have many yellow Stop the Northern Pass signs and also some of the bumper stickers. E-mail me at
      We have placed more than 1500 signs so far and working on the next 500
      By the way I am not a “NIMBY” Just someone who cares about my state and the people who live in it. I m tired of being push around by big corp’s who buy our politicians and who don’t give a dam about the enviroment we live in.

  13. you may try the website I imagine you can find a contact person through it. Good luck! Also you can always make your own sign- an orange background seems to be standard.

  14. Pittsburg NH is God’s Country nothing is up there but wildlife and peace. Why is this even being considered? Where else can you go for the peace and quiet and the beauty anymore? There really is none and why would anyone want to ruin this?

  15. Wow, The east coast is so crowded that it will be impossible to supply energy to all soon. It is not the company that is being greedy, they are just supplying energy to Blackberries, big screen TVs and Ipods, lots of them and without burning coal or using nuclear. If you want peace and quite the North East is not the place. Try the midwest.

    It not hotels they are building. Why must everthing be so hard. Nevermind don’t answer that. I already know.

  16. Apparently there is already an existing energy corridor in Vermont, 50 miles west of the proposed New Hampshire site.

    According to VT’s former lieutenant governor, the Vermont route would be 10 miles shorter…why not use it?

    The following excerpt refers to the Iroquois gas pipeline that was constructed through NY & CT when I was living in those states. Although the pipeline passed within a quarter mile of my house, CT residents did not receive any gas from the project…it was all for Long Island.

    Construction of that pipeline through Dutchess County and elsewhere in New York was highly controversial. The company paid more than $22 million in fines, and several of its executives pleaded guilty for damaging wetlands and violating construction specifications that resulted in concerns about the safety of the pipe.

  17. The power actually can be accessed by southern new hampshire, that is kind of the point. But I do agree with you, the northern pass is not necessary because it’s very expensive and the power is not needed. Also, the towers are going to be between 85-135 feet tall so they will tower over the trees, be noisy, and look ugly.

  18. It continually astounds me…the replies from Martin Murray. I’ve been to many meetings, and personally asked him to clarify his answers to our questions. He neglects to tell the whole story, and relies on half truths to sell this project. He neglects to say that in the “pre-existing right of ways” they propose to use, they will need to expand the width to accommodate the new 1200 MW line. He neglects to to say that in that right of way, especially through the White Mountain National Forest, those towers WILL be 135 ft. tall. And he neglects to mention that the only way they can install 80-95 foot towers is to make the ROW wider than 150 feet. He neglects to focus on the true impact to homes and businesses along the route. What about the decline in property values that will offset whatever revenues he claims the project will bring to the area. What about tax rebates that property owners will insist on? He neglects to answer a number of questions concerning the supposed jobs they’ve promised. Aside from Murray, none of the “big wigs” behind Northern Pass have even shown up to speak to the public face to face. Where has Gary Long been? What about the CEO’s from Northest Utilities, and NStar? I can tell you…Gary Long has apparently been buying up property as a partner in another land grabbing venture, which just happens to be along the proposed route by Northern Pass.
    If you want the truth, you need to read between the lines, and the rhetoric and propaganda. Northern Pass is NOT the save all, end all, solution to our energy needs, but it will be a huge consequential blow to the state of NH. The last thing they won’t say is their true reason for disregarding ALL of the other alternatives that have been suggested. For example: Bury the lines, (bury them along our North/South highways), use the existing corrider in VT, or SCAP the whole project altogether, unless they can do it right. The answer comes down to GREED, COMPETITION, AND THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR. For that, they will do anything to push this project through. Including shoving it down the throats of citizens living in the 30+ towns where this line is proposed…citizens who clearly voted in opposition to this project at their town meetings in March. Shame on Mr. Murray, and the other NP representatives who refuse to take “NO”, absolutely NOT, for an answer.

  19. where can i get a “stop northern pass” sign?? I cannot find any on the site

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