By Judy Reardon

Do we need the Northern Pass transmission line to lower electric bills in New Hampshire? That’s what the advocates of Northern Pass have been saying for years to justify the permanent damage this 192-mile transmission line will do to our scenic landscapes, fragile wildlife habitats, property values and tourism industry. 

Not so, according to a study by the Carsey Center for Public Policy at UNH released last week that has received little news coverage.

In fact, this study reveals that the average residential electric bill in New Hampshire is the same as the national average and the average commercial electric bill is actually lower here than the national average.

And this will be the case for the foreseeable future. A just-completed bidding process for the power New England will need in 2020-2021 came in with the lowest price in years.

That’s the price of power. What’s been driving up electricity rates in New Hampshire and the rest of New England is the cost of all the new transmission lines that have been built in recent years. 

That’s why we need to consider the cost of constructing the Northern Pass transmission line, which Eversource currently estimates to be $1.6 billion. Maybe I’m cynical, but Eversource (that’s what PSNH wants to be called now) has a long history of grossly underestimating the cost of large construction projects. I’d bet my house that if the Northern Pass transmission line is ever built it will end up costing way more than $1.6 billion.  That would be a good bet for me, but Northern Pass is a bad bet for New Hampshire.