Northern Pass

Headlines have quieted down on the Hydro-power project called Northern Pass, but efforts to continue and thwart the project are ongoing.  A new study questions the need for Northern Pass’s  hydropower, given low natural gas prices. Meanwhile, there’s been activity  on land purchases in the North Country that could connect the dots for the project’s final route. We will look at that latest news around Northern Pass.


A group of power providers that would compete with the Northern Pass says the project can’t make money without some kind of renewable energy, government subsidy, an assertion  Northern Pass disputes.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.


A group of New England power generators is worried Northern Pass will try to get federal or state subsidies by persuading government officials to declare its electricity is renewable.

Such hydro-electric power is not currently eligible for subsidies.

The extremely low prices for natural gas – which can be used to generate electricity - have some  opponents  of Northern Pass wondering whether Hydro-Quebec  might reconsider the project. But a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that’s unlikely.

Utility Merger Could Impact Northern Pass

Apr 10, 2012

After 18 months of federal and state review, Northeast Utilities has completed a $5-billion purchase of Boston-based NStar. The deal makes PSNH’s parent company the largest utility in New England.

During a conference call, CEO Tom May said the acquisition would help his company pursue the Northern Pass project.

"The new NU will, because of the financial strength of the combined companies, actually have credit rating upgrades, which should make it a lot easier to finance this project," said May.

Photo: Chris Jensen

Much of the battle over the Northern Pass hydro-electric project has focused on cutting a new route through the forests of the North Country.

Northern Pass intends to use 140 miles of existing right of way for much of the remainder of the project.

That may not be as easy as it sounds.

NHPR's Chris Jensen reports.


It takes maybe five minutes – including crossing a large brook on a narrow board – for Kris Pastoriza to reach the right-of-way that cuts through her wooded land in Easton.

Looking at day-to-day coverage of Northern Pass, it tends to (unsurprisingly) focus on the New Hampshire perspective.  Will the project provide a much-needed boost to the North Country economy, or just create a spot of temp work?  What will the project do to land values?  Who’s selling their land, who’s holding fa

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Two of three North Country towns yesterday approved an ordinance designed to fight the Northern Pass project by trying to strip corporations of their power.

Lancaster, Sugar Hill and Easton all had the same idea: An ordinance that would assert a town’s rights over those of corporations.

The idea is to prevent large corporations – such as those behind the Northern Pass project – from using the legal muscle given them by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

Hiking for the Cause

Feb 15, 2012
Larissa Dannis

Opposition to the Northern Pass Project has inspired lawn signs, bumper stickers and even legislation.   Avid hiker Larisa Dannis has taken her protest of the proposed 180 mile transmission line through New Hampshire’s North Country to the top. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Town meetings begin next month.

One issue some towns are looking at is a radical new tactic ultimately designed to challenge the legal power of corporations.

Opponents of the Northern Pass hydroelectric project are at the forefront of the move.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.


Northern Pass opponents have won what they see they see as a victory in their fight against the huge hydro-electric project.

Lynch On Northern Pass

Jan 31, 2012
Chris Jensen for NHPR

The controversial Northern Pass hydro-electric project “cannot happen without local support” and “should not happen with eminent domain,” Gov. Lynch’s said today in his State of the State address.

Here is the paragraph from his speech:

StateImpact’s Amanda Loder has an interesting analysis – with some help from the Concord Monitor – at how opposition to eminent domain breaks out demographically and by political persuasion.

Here’s her report.

StateImpact NH is a cooperative project between NHPR and NPR.


Chris Jensen / NHPR


The New Hampshire Senate has voted to strengthen the rules for taking private property by eminent domain. But there are questions as to what the wording of the final Senate bill really means.

Mark McCulloch lives in North Stratford, way up North on the Vermont-New Hampshire Border.

His house is smack in the middle of the route for the hydro-electric transmission project, Northern Pass, the 180 mile transmission line that would bring electricity from Canada to New England.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A new study says far fewer jobs will be created by the Northern Pass than the utility has forecast, according to StateImpact, a project between NHPR and NPR.

Here’s part of Amanda Loder’s report:

“Today, the New England Power Generators Association released a report it commissioned from PolEcon Research.  The Association is one of the major opponents of the Northern Pass project. 

Sam Evans-Brown


An industry group has put out a new study that disputes Public Service of New Hampshire’s claims about the number of jobs the Northern Pass project will create.

The study cuts PSNH’s jobs prediction in half.

A trade group representing power plant owners commissioned an independent analyst to study how many jobs the Northern Pass project might create.

That analysis found that the project could expect to create just over 600 jobs in New Hampshire, about half of the 1,200 jobs figure released by Northern Pass.

One of the main questions that lingers over Northern Pass is: Will it create jobs, especially in the struggling North Country?

And, befitting the layers of controversy surrounding the project, the simplest answer won out.

It depends on who you ask.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Lynne Placey, a North Country woman who’s struggling to make ends meet but has refused to take money from Northern Pass, has been given $2,650 by a group that admires her gumption.

Placey, of Stewartstown, says she turned down an offer of around $500,000 from Northern Pass for a right-of-way on her land although her only income is Social-Security and giving piano lessons.

“She’s a modern-day hero,” said Rikki Ramsden, one of the owners of Atta Girl Records of Thornton, which was behind the fund-raising effort.

The Forest Society says it has raised the $850,000 needed for a conservation easement at the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch. It blocks a right-of-way for the proposed Northern Pass hydro-electric project. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

The Forest Society’s deadline for raising $850,000 for a 5,800-acre conservation easement at the Balsams resort was January 15th.

It raised the money with a record 1,500 contributions.

And, The Forest Society says Northern Pass’ hope to use the land for its electric towers deserves some of the credit.

John Macomber

John D. Judge, who will take over as head of the Appalachian Mountain Club next month, says its priorities will include continued opposition to the Northern Pass project and trying to get more children away from computer games and into the outdoors.

The proposed hydro-electric project would clearly have a detrimental impact on recreation and conservation, said Judge.

A donor who asked to remain anonymous has contributed $150,000 to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forest to help it buy a conservation easement at the Balsams resort in Dixville Notch.

The forest society has a deal with the Tillotson Corp. to buy the easement for $850,000. With a deadline of January 15th it has raised $609,000, according to a news release.

The easement covers about 5,800 acres as well as a right-of-way that the Northern Pass project sought to use for its transmission lines.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Newt Gingrich was in Littleton Thursday and he put aside national and international issues for one focused on one of the biggest issues in the North Country: The Northern Pass. 

Like a good politician Newt Gingrich couldn’t have come up with a more popular position at a town meeting at the Littleton Opera House.

It had to do with Northern Pass, the proposed hydro-electric project despised by many in the North Country.

In particular it had to do with the federal government’s consideration of a Presidential Permit.

Sam Evans-Brown


Senate lawmakers met today to discuss a bill that would change the rules of eminent domain.

As NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown reports, the debate is spurred by people concerned that they will lose their land to the Northern Pass Project

The judiciary committee considered more than a half dozen amendments that all sought to clarify when and how utilities can use eminent domain.  

In the end, the committee recommended Republican Senator Sharon Carson’s proposal.

Part of the deal to sell the Balsams resort in Dixville Notch will apparently prevent the Northern Pass from using the land for its electric power lines. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.


When the Balsams resort was up for sale the Northern Pass utility project was interested.

Northern Pass apparently wanted a right-of-way for the huge towers bringing hydro-electric power from Canada.

But if the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests can raise $850,000 that won’t be happening.

Almost since it was first unveiled a year ago, the Northern Pass , a $1.1 billion hydroelectric project that would transmit power from Canada to central NH then on to the new England grid, has provoked sharp debate especially in the north country, where some forests would have to be cut for transmission lines. But now the debate is spreading to Central New Hampshire. We get the latest from two reporters who have been covering the communities where the discussion had been the loudest.


The Boston Globe is reporting that an official working for the controversial Northern Pass project is hosting a fundraiser for presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“According to an invitation provided by the liberal Center for American Progress, Greg Butler, the senior vice president and general counsel for The Northern Pass, is one of the co-chairs of a $500-a-head fundraiser for Romney at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan this Wednesday evening,” the newspaper reported.

The Northern Pass electric project is searching for a new, less controversial path through the North Country.

But a small group of landowners is determined to block the utility’s plan even though it means giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Sound of piano music.

At 65 years of age Lynne Placey gives piano lessons.

She lives with a cat and a gray-muzzled dog in a small house in Stewartstown.

And she hopes she’s blocking the path of a corporate giant.

Brady Carlson, NHPR

The Northern Pass hydropower project from Quebec, which includes transmission lines through New Hampshire, has divided our state with passionate disagreement on the amount of energy it will bring, how badly that energy’s needed, and the economics of the project, including its affect on property values. We’ll talk to those on both sides of this debate.


Faced with strong, statewide opposition officials from Northern Pass say they are reworking parts of their plan, including finding a better route through the North Country. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

NorthernPass officials say they want to change some important parts of their plan to bring 1,200 megawatts of hydro-electric power from Canada.

 Their possible changes include finding a new route between Canada and Groveton, one that will calm the furor in the North Country.

 Last month at least 2,300 people attended seven public hearings on the project.

Chris Jensen, NHPR

Transcripts of the seven public hearings on the Northern Pass project are now available at a web site operated by the U.S. Department of Energy, which conducted the meetings.

 1) Colebrook:



While some critics are lining up to oppose the Northern Pass Project in New Hampshire, others are following those wires to their source.

And that source is a series of dams in Quebec Canada run by Hydro-Quebec.

As Northeast states increasingly look to satisfy their demand for low cost renewable energy, opponents are arguing that big hydro is not as green as it appears.

As part of a collaboration of Northeast stations John Dillon of Vermont Public Radio reports: