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Governor's SEC nominees draw fire from Northern Pass opponents


by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
December 12, 2018
REGION — Those in opposition to the Northern Pass project, which seeks to run power lines from Canada into southern New England are up in arms once more over upcoming changes to the Site Evaluation Committee.

Gov. Chris Sununu has nominated Republican Rep. Michael Vose of Epping to sit on the committee.

Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, however, has concerns with this nomination, stating "There's been a lot of concern in Grafton and CoŲs Counties that Vose has leanings towards Northern Pass. He was very vocal against the biomass plants and was outspoken against Senate Bill 365."

Kenney has received more than 40 e-mails in opposition to Vose's nomination. Included in those e-mails are words of praise to Kenney for voting against Geoff Mitchell, another recent Sununu nominee who was known to be pro Northern Pass.

"On Dec. 19, I'll be asking a lot of questions. It does not look like I will support Vose," Kenney added. "With the state Supreme Court now looking at a decision of the SEC, it's now critical more than ever to look at these nominations and how these individuals feel about Northern Pass. I think it's back in the public eye again. I believe the Governor is looking for new blood and he's looking to shake up the committee."

Kenney believes Sununu is attempting to 'stack' the SEC with those in favor of approving the Northern Pass project.

According to Kenney, "Sununu very much wants to see Northern Pass come to fruition, that's now quite apparent. There has been a big out cry of people who are adamantly opposed to this. It's a very hot topic."

"I don't know what will happen with the new council, but I think it's been the Governor's strategy all along, as he has not re-appointed anyone to the SEC," said Kenney.

Last February, the SEC voted unanimously to deny a permit to Eversource's controversial project.

Kenney shared one of the e-mails sent to him, this one from Gretchen Hesler, a resident of Franconia, who wrote "Thank you for your recent Vote [sic] against Geoff Mitchell's nomination to the SEC. We appreciate your efforts to keep individuals who have an ulterior motive, off of the SEC. It's such an obvious wrong, but politics being what it is, there seems to be no shame in nominating folks who clearly are not impartial."

Hesler went on to say, "The lack of approval from the SEC for Northern Pass was quite remarkable, not because the project makes sense, but because of the power of big business and politics. The project would not only scar our beautiful landscape, but would devalue property up and down the corridor. My husband and I have owned a small business in the North Country for 18 years. It's a hard gig making a living in the North Country however what we have on our side (besides amazing residents) is our landscape. Visitors come from all over the world to spend time in our pristine forests, mountains and lakes. Nobody I know is giving up the fight against Northern Pass, but we cannot do it without our Politicians. Politicians who are not 'bought and sold' by other interests, politicians who are working for the best of NH residents quality of life."

Kenney offered a final word on the topic, for now: "I find it odd that Sununu is kind of doing this at the last hour. We will have quite a debate on the 19th of December."

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