Listening to the economic expert for Northern Pass testify at the Site Evaluation Committee hearings during the last two weeks, I got to thinking: why doesn’t the company ever talk about what Northern Pass will do for individual businesses? Here’s why: Northern Pass will do very little to help individual businesses in New Hampshire create jobs, and it’s almost impossible to imagine the business that would decide to relocate to our state because of Northern Pass.

Under cross-examination at the SEC last week, Julia Frayer, the economic expert for the company, testified that Northern Pass on average would provide residential, industrial and commercial consumers using 300 kWh/month of electricity savings of about $1.50 on their monthly bill.  That translates to a rate reduction of one half of one cent.

Keep in mind that the economic expert for the Counsel for the Public found it’s likely that at best Northern Pass would reduce rates by about half that amount, but I’ll use Northern Pass’s much higher number to look at how it will impact individual businesses.     

With Northern Pass, an industrial consumer on average would save $251.68 a month based on the average monthly industrial consumption of 50,377 kWh in New Hampshire. That’s $3,020.22 year. Even a small amount of savings is a good thing, but, let’s face it, no manufacturer can hire someone for an annual salary of $3,000.  

What if the manufacturer used ten times as much electricity as the average? Then they’d save $30,202 a year, but in New Hampshire that’s not enough to hire even one electronic equipment assembler (average NH salary $34,060) or one machinist ($46,150), never mind a mechanical engineer ($87,040). And those figures are just salaries, no benefits factored in.

How about commercial consumers like retail stores, offices and restaurants? They’d save $17.68 a month at the average monthly consumption of 3,536 kWh in New Hampshire or $212.15 a year.

What if the retail store or office or restaurant used 50 times as much electricity as the average? Then they’d save $10,607.50 a year, not enough to hire one retail salesperson (average NH salary $27,490) or one secretary ($34,770) or one fast-food cook ($20,240).

How about a really big grocery store? At the SEC public hearing last week the president of the NH Grocers Association said a 60,000 square foot supermarket pays about $450,000 for electricity every year. Northern Pass would lower a big grocery store’s yearly electric bill by about $22,500, just about enough to hire a cashier (average NH salary $21,400) as long as the store doesn’t provide any benefits to its employees.

And, don’t forget, if the Public Counsel’s expert is correct, the savings are about half as much for these different businesses.

With the modest amount of savings Northern Pass’s economic expert said it would provide, it is very hard to picture the business that would relocate to New Hampshire because of Northern Pass, especially since the one-half-of-one-penny rate reduction would occur throughout New England. So, if you’re trying to decide between locating in Massachusetts or Connecticut or New Hampshire, the rate impact of Northern Pass just wouldn’t be a factor. And, sadly, with its 192 miles of transmission lines and towers cutting through New Hampshire and New Hampshire only, we would lose some of the natural-environment advantage we have over those two states.