Many have made the argument that Northern Pass provides little benefit to New Hampshire, while the state has to bear all the negative consequences of the project. In this blog, I have relayed the fact that this power is earmarked for southern New England and that New Hampshire doesn’t need the power because we produce 70% more power than we use.
Yesterday, I posted an article on this Patch blog (http://exeter.patch.com/blog_posts/a-new-film-about-northern-pass-3cf34f43), and quickly received a comment questioning my logic behind The Power of Place. The commenter noted that NH’s electric rates are the 4th highest in the nation, and that while we produce more power than we use, Northern Pass would change the energy mix in the state and lower electric rates. After a few replies, it became obvious I could end up spending my whole day arguing with this guy, and I bowed out of the conversation (I’d rather talk to you guys!) But, by raising the idea of lower electric rates, I decided to do a little research.
According to the Northern Pass website, they predict that electricity costs in New Hampshire will be reduced by $25 – $30 million dollars annually. Assuming this transpires (and we’ve been promised these things before, without them actually happening), what does that translate to for the average residential consumer in New Hampshire? According to the US Energy Information Administration, residential consumers account for 28% of electricity use in New Hampshire. According to the US Census, New Hampshire had 514,000 households in 2010. So $30 million/514,000*28% = an average annual savings per household of $16.34 or $1.36/month. And this is a best case scenario believing Northern Pass’s figures.
So even if you are a cost-conscious citizen who wants lower electric rates, can you really say it’s worth the desecration of some of our most cherished landscapes for the cost of half a cup of coffee per month? Could you look a person in the eye and tell them you need to save that $16 a year and they just have to deal with these power lines ruining the sense of place they feel on land that’s been in their family for generations, or that they’ll just have to live with having the power lines right next to their home, creating a health risk for their kids? I don’t think so.
But wait, there’s more. According to this analysis by the Conservation Law Foundation, it is actually very likely that market forces will result in Northern Pass actually increasing residential electricity rates in New Hampshire in order to prop up the aging, expensive fossil-fuel power plants in the state. Sounds like a good deal to me.
There are less than 36 hours left to pledge to my Kickstarter campaign funding The Power of Place. I’m getting close to reaching my goal, and would be grateful for your support!