Eversource Energy and the Northern Pass Transmission project have announced a large donation to support conservation projects in New Hampshire. The $3 million donated by Eversource will be given to local conservation projects through grants administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).
“That’s a huge donation. It represents our largest New England corporate donation in the history of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation,” said David O’Neil, vice president of NFWF.
The money will be spent over the span of three years, focused primarily on preserving young forests and cold-water streams.
The first two grants to receive support from the program were announced Thursday as well, each receiving $50,000 from the fund. One project, conducted by the Wildlife Management Institute, aims to restore 30 acres of New England cottontail rabbit habitat. The second, run by the Connecticut River Watershed Council, is a study on how to help brook trout overcome barriers to up-stream passage.
David McHale, Executive Vice President at Eversource told assembled press and supporters that he wanted “to address why the Northern Pass project is committed to this investment.”
“We feel really, really strongly, that clean energy infrastructure, like Northern Pass, can co-exist – in fact has to coexist – with a natural and healthy environment,” he told the crowd.
Critics of Northern Pass were quick to dismiss the effort as a PR stunt ahead of the expected submission of the project’s application to the state later this year.
There are even some of the skeptics among the beneficiaries of the donation.
Paul Doscher is with Trout Unlimited, which plans on assisting the Connecticut River Watershed with its project. He says there’s a “degree of skepticism” within his organization when it comes to Northern Pass.
“We reserve the right to comment on Northern Pass, as it goes forward,” Doscher said, “We may have objections, we may have criticisms, and we may decide to oppose the project.”
Northern Pass spokeswoman Lauren Collins stressed at the event that they chose to work with NFWF in order to avoid any possible conflicts of interest.
“Northern Pass is not deciding who gets the money, Northern Pass is not deciding what grants get awarded, NFWF is. And they’re very well respected for the work that they do,” says Collins, “So we appreciate the neutrality of that process.”