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NH Chambers of Commerce opinions on Northern Pass split geographically

By Union Leader Staff
March 11. 2013 8:14PM

It's North versus South, as chambers of commerce in the state continue to line up on one side or the other when it comes to the Northern Pass hydroelectric project.

The plan to string 1,200-watt transmission lines to bring power from the Canadian border to an existing substation in Deerfield, and from there into the New England grid, is being praised by the business community in the large cities to the south, and panned by chambers in the smaller towns north of Concord that will be most directly affected.

The Plymouth Regional Chamber of Commerce became the most recent business group to take a stand, with a statement issued on Friday that called the project "a detriment to the region," while the Rochester Chamber of Commerce a week earlier endorsed the idea.

"We understand that some chambers of commerce in regions of New Hampshire not subject to any direct impact from this project have chosen to publicly support it," the Plymouth statement read. "As a chamber representing an area where the project will have significant, direct impact - an impact which we feel will be negative - we feel the need to state our opposition."

The statement is a reference to votes by chambers of commerce in Nashua and Manchester late last year endorsing the project. The Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce endorsed it on Feb. 22, saying, "We believe planning for a stable, low-cost energy future is critical."

"This new source of power will create tens of millions in energy savings, hundreds of new jobs and millions in new tax revenue for New Hampshire, while diversifying our energy supply at a time when the region is becoming more and more dependent on natural gas," read a statement issued by Chairman of the Board Bruce Boudreau and President Laura A. Ring.

The Plymouth chamber said the project will negatively affect tourism, while putting local power producers at a disadvantage with no guarantee that the imported power will lower electric rates in New Hampshire.

The Littleton Chamber of Commerce issued a statement Feb. 14 in opposition to the project, while the North Country Chamber of Commerce in Colebrook is surveying its members.

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