Many Opponents Attend Southernmost Northern Pass Open House

Sep 4, 2013

Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

More than 100 people showed up to an information session about the Northern Pass project in Concord last night. It was the sixth and southernmost of a series of ten scheduled sessions.

Central New Hampshire residents got the most detailed look to date of the route. The main attraction was a series of five computers where residents could look up the footprint of the project in relation to their property.

“So someone can enter their address and we’ll bring where the project is in relation to their home address,” project spokesman Mike Skelton explained that after the first few open houses officials decided to more than double the number of computers on hand for this section of the open house, where engineers “show them specific structure heights and structure locations and then get their feedback.”

The open house attracted many property owners whose land abuts PSNH’s right-of-way where it passes through Canterbury and Concord, and who were deeply skeptical of the project.

“Well we’re here so they can give us happy-talk and I understand that. I’m grown up enough to understand that’s the way it’s done and it’s a pretty impressive show,” said abutter Patrick Chaloux.  He explained he’d prefer to see the power line buried along its entire length. Chaloux lives in Mckenna’s purchase, a development on the Concord Heights.

At each open house attendees mill from station to station where company experts on the route, tower construction, electric and magnetic fields, and the tax valuation of the towers are available to answer individual questions.

The open house drew the orange clad picketers who have become a staple of Northern Pass events who set up shop in front of the conference center, and many who attended were already dead-set against the project.

However, some who were perhaps a bit more ambivalent were on hand. Aubrey Davis, another abutter in Concord says he’s been following the project in the news, but until the information session he didn’t realize that the easement boundary actually crosses over a corner of his garden.

“Those lines are going to come much closer to our property. We’re going to have a view of power lines that we did not have in the past,” said Davis “I’m not real happy about that.”

While the event was congenial, one attendee handing out an opposition pamphlet was asked to leave. 

The open houses, continue in the next two weeks in Lancaster, Lincoln, Campton and Ashland.

**A previous version of this article stated that the Open Houses are required as part of the federal permitting process. This is not correct. FERC says that applicants "must identify specific tools and actions to facilitate stakeholder communication and the dissemination of public information to those who are interested in the proposed project," but does not require open houses.**