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Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.
Mar
2013
7

Package of Bills that Would Hamper Infrastructure Development Passes New Hampshire House Committee

There is little that big business and organized labor often agree on.  However, in New Hampshire, representatives from both sides of the economic aisle are coming together to oppose legislation that would halt large-scale energy projects in the state.  The projects include proposed hilltop wind farms and the Northern Pass high-voltage energy transmission line which would connect transmission between Canada and the United States.

A package of 7 bills has cleared the state’s House Science, Technology and Energy Committee and will be voted on this year. Joe Casey, business manager of Local 490 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has contacted his union’s 400 members and asked them to help stop the bills. This, the state’s Building Trades unions assert, is the only way to guarantee the jobs that would come with the projects down the line.

Arguably the most important bill in question is one that would place a moratorium on new wind turbine plants and electric transmission lines. Casey told the Union-Leader that the jobs created on the project would pay roughly $27 an hour, along with health care benefits and retirement.  If the moratorium passes the jobs will be no more.

Business leaders, on the other hand, oppose the moratorium because they believe the government should stay out of the affairs of certain industries:

BIA Vice President Mike Licata said the organization has not taken a stand one way or another on Northern Pass or any specific wind farm. But he said BIA has had a strong philosophical opposition to legislation that targets a specific business or project. He said the state has an existing process - the Site Evaluation Committee - to review projects to make sure they comply with regulations and are good for the state.

“It’s inappropriate for the Legislature to insert itself into the existing process and change the rules,” Licata said.

He said the BIA is not coordinating opposition with labor groups.

Other parts of the seven-bill package include:

“A bill that would let the Public Utilities Commission order transmission lines to be buried if they aren’t “necessary for the public good” was retained on a 19-0 vote.

A bill instructing the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to consider local recommendations when approving new energy facilities was retained on a 18-1 vote.

A bill that would require new “elective transmission lines” (private, for-profit lines
that aren’t needed to maintain the reliability of the power grid) to be buried underground was retained on a 17-2 vote. An attempt to recommend passage of the bill died on a 14-5 vote.

A bill that would require new transmission lines to be located in state transportation rights of way “to the extent possible” was retained on a 17-2 vote.

A bill that would place a one-year moratorium on new electric transmission facilities was retained on a 15-4 vote.

And a bill that would require local town meeting or city council approval for projects visible from public property, such as roads, was retained on a 17-2 vote.

Retaining these bills does not mean they will be implemented, but with a spending cut-happy GOP in place across the country new job-creating infrastructure projects can never be too safe.

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