Call it a combination of corporate “chutzpah” and lack of political leadership!
On the “chutzpah” front, REAL is perplexed as to why Northern Pass would not withdraw its current proposal for jarring and damaging above-ground lines through some of the most beautiful and sensitive areas of New Hampshire. The two competing projects in the New England/New York region, Champlain-Hudson Power Express and Northeast Energy Link have proposed 100% subsurface lines, including under existing highway and railroad rights of way. This option would appear to be available for exploration by Northern Pass.
Note, however, that the current Northern Pass proposal locates the vast majority of the route on the existing right of way owned by Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH). It is unclear whether moving to a more responsible design and route (underground on public highway or rail rights of way) would represent a revenue loss for PSNH, since PSNH would no longer be providing the right of way. The use of public or third-party rights of way might also reduce the full flexibility of Northern Pass’s corporate sponsors to expand the “transmission corridor” in the future for additional lines. REAL suspects that greed is the main reason why Northern Pass refuses to look at alternatives that are better for New Hampshire.
As to lack of political leadership, one need only note that the utilities sector, including PSNH in New Hampshire, is a major contributor to political election campaigns. As one New Hampshire state senator remarked on the senate floor, there is a perception that PSNH is more powerful than the state senate. The corporate sponsors of Northern Pass have, to date, been successful in using their influence to neuter popular will in the political process.