To bury or not bury Northern Pass transmission lines - 239 responses,

Mar 31, 2014

Recently, the NH Senate held a public hearing on HB 569, which would require the state Site Evaluation Committee to give preference to any plan or project, including Northern Pass, that bury electrical lines and place them along public rights of way. Supporters of the proposed bill contend that transmission lines will damage NH’s natural beauty and tourism industry. Detractors of the bill, though, cite the Edison Electric Institute, which claims underground construction costs for high-voltage transmission lines are 5 to 10 times higher than traditional overhead construction.

The debate may be academic, however, based on the wide range of responses offered by Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) Facebook members when asked if NH should mandate the burial of Northern Pass electrical transmission lines. In fact, 42 percent of respondents did not answer the question, but instead chose to discuss the need for the project at all as well as alternative fuel options, their respective costs and efficacy. In total, the LFDA received 239 citizen responses, including specific comments from 68 individuals supported by 137 concurrences.  Of those who responded directly to the question, 64% supported the burial of the power lines and 36% were opposed.

To a great extent, the tone and content of responses mirrored those found in a recent LFDA Facebook discussion in which a similar percentage of respondents preferred a broader dialogue on the ideal energy source. As noted previously, this discussion elicited a wide range of comments from respondents who chose to focus on related issues. “It doesn't matter to me what you do with transmission lines,” remarked one commentator. “The problem is that we are unable to be self sufficient in the first place.

Others respondents, though, claimed Northern Pass benefits the wrong people. “Why should NH customers be paying for this at all?” said one gentleman. “The Northern Pass project is to bring electricity to southern New England, not NH.”

For many who answered the question affirmatively, however, the mandate would protect one of NH’s most valuable assets. “Draping ugly lines across the picturesque scenes of NH's greatest vistas is an idea straight out of the book of bad ideas,” one individual noted.

On the other side of the issue, several respondents expressed a pragmatic point of view. “No,” said one gentleman. “It’s just a power line.”

With some citing the high cost to taxpayers and others claiming Northern Pass will not impact the state’s financial outlook whatsoever, it would appear HB 569 may elicit more question than answers.

Click here to see the full Facebook discussion of this question.

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