How North Country Reps Voted On Burying Electric Transmission Lines

Jan 23, 2014

Opponents of the Northern Pass transmission project strongly favored House Bill 569. Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

Only one representative from the North Country voted Wednesday against a bill that would encourage state regulators to give preference to electric transmission lines that are buried or located along public highways.

As NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown reported the House voted 171 – 139 for HB 569.

It directs the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to give preference to power lines that are buried or use public rights-of-way instead of crossing private land.

It also says the Site Evaluation Committee “may presume any line not required for system reliability and not proposed to be substantially buried will have an unreasonably adverse effect on aesthetics.”

Aesthetics is one of the factors the committee is supposed to consider when considering projects.

The bill, sponsored by Larry Rappaport, a Republican from Colebrook, had the support of opponents of the controversial Northern Pass project.

The only North Country representative to vote against the bill was Edmond Gionet, a Republican from Lincoln.

In an e-mail Gionet said one of his reasons was that “given the fact that our nation was built on free enterprise don't mess with it.”

“It may appear to you that the vociferous group against Northern Pass is woven into the fabric of New Hampshire. Take a closer look,” he continued. “The majority of my constituents, the real backbone of New Hampshire, support it.”

However, in 2011 Lincoln voted against the Northern Pass.

The bill now must get an okay from the Ways and Means Committee and face a second vote in the House before it can be passed along to the Senate.

Should it become law it would not require lines to be buried or located on existing rights-of-way, something Northern Pass opponents would like.

But it means that the SEC would begin with the premise that burying lines or locating them along existing rights-of-way is preferable, said Doug Patch, a lawyer who was on the SEC for almost a decade. The applicant would then have to present evidence showing that was not the best method.

Representatives from the North Country who voted in favor of requiring lines to be buried or located along state rights-of-way were:

Rebecca Brown, Sugar Hill, Democrat

Ralph Doolan, Littleton, Republican

Susan Ford, Easton, Democrat

Marcia Hammon, Whitefield, Democrat

William Hatch, Gorham, Democrat

Linda Lauer, Bath, Democrat

Linda Massimilla, Littleton, Democrat

Wayne Moynihan, Dummer, Democrat

Larry Rappaport, Colebrook, Republican

Leon Rideout, Lancaster, Republican

Herb Richardson, Lancaster, Republican

Robert Theberge,  Berlin, Democrat

Yvonne Thomas, Berlin, Democrat

Brad Bailey, Monroe, Republican

Representatives from the North County who voted against the bill were:

Edmond Gionet, Lincoln, Republican

Representatives from the North County who were excused from voting were:

Gary M Coulombe, Berlin, Democrat

Larry Enman, Errol,  Democrat

To see how other representatives voted go here.