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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

You Say Tomato And I Say Toe-Mah-Toe

One of the true pleasures of being a journalist with a blog is providing my readers with what radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to call "the rest of the story."

My latest opportunity to do that is with Eversource Energy, which held its annual meeting Wednesday at Hartford's Infinity Hall. At that meeting, Thomas May, the company's chairman, president and chief executive officer, confidently told shareholders that the company's Northern Pass transmission project would not be derailed.

 May called opponents of the project, which will be built in New Hampshire, a “a vocal minority ... a small project of resistance.”

As anyone who has traveled through New Hampshire with any regularity can tell you, there are probably thousands of signs opposing Northern Pass. They can be found in towns all along the route that the transmission line will take as it brings hydro power from Canada to be included in New England's mix of energy options.

My story had the temerity to report that the company is talking with state officials about how it can remove any political opposition to the project. That's important because New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan is opposed to Northern Pass in its current form and the project requires state approval.

In the story, I referred to those discussions as "negotiations." And that sent Eversource Energy's public relations army into a snit.

Martin Murray, an Eversource Energy spokesman in New Hampshire, told me the term negotiations "carries a legal  meaning” that does not reflect what the company is doing in the state. And the company was so concerned about my story that they even devoted to short post to it in the blog they devoted exclusively to Northern Pass.

"We continue to solicit input from a broad range of stakeholders, including landowners along the route, municipalities, businesses, environmental groups, and elected officials, as we consider adjustments to the project that will provide substantial New Hampshire benefits," the Northern Pass blog post said in part.

All I can say is: I'm flattered that Eversource considers me such an influential journalist. We have published a clarification to the story, not because we believe that what we originally reported was wrong, but to be fair to the company in the court of public opinion.

 I'll leave it to you, dear reader, to decide whether you can have negotiations without discussions or vice versa.

 But consider this: If Eversource is so confident that Northern Pass will be approved at the state level that its own CEO is dismissing opponents as "a vocal minority," then why does the company "continue to solicit input from a broad range of stakeholders, including landowners along the route, municipalities, businesses, environmental groups, and elected officials."

And one final thought as you ponder the answer to that question. An Eversource shareholder asked May during the meeting how much it cost the company to change its name from Northeast Utilities to Eversource Energy, a change which occurred earlier this year.

 May demurred at first, saying he didn't know and then "It's in the millions."

Following the meeting, I asked a company spokesman how it was possible that the company could spend that amount of money on a rebranding and not know exactly how much. And after a little bit of prodding, he acknowledged that it was number that Eversource officials would rather not make public.

Keep that in mind as you try to decide what Eversource is actually doing in New Hampshire

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Anonymous A. Robert Baker said...

Welcome to the rabbit hole.

May 1, 2015 at 8:03 AM 
Blogger kmtorres said...

NE Utilities--Eversource--who cares? Wasted $$ to rebrand. The name doesn't matter if the actions are the same. Since NH isn't the end user of this power, stay out of the state! Don't build towers and don't say you'll bury the lines. Have you ever tried to bury things in granite? Many locations would require blasting to bury the lines and that would scar the beautiful NH landscape just as well as towers. Have ME, VT, NY turned you down? NH should have already dismissed the proposal. Stay out! Go home! This is from the "vocal minority." Your arrogance will be your downfall.

May 3, 2015 at 2:01 AM 
Blogger Disney Walker said...

Don't do anything to stop global warming here! We're all Democrats! We're the good guys, remember!

May 4, 2015 at 12:10 PM 

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