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BALSAMS RESORT’S LES OTTEN SUPPORTS NORTHERN PASS
DIXVILLE, N.H. (March 7, 2016) – Les Otten, founder of the renewable energy company Maine Energy Systems and developer of the Balsams Resort, testified in favor of the Northern Pass Transmission project this evening. At a public hearing co-hosted by the NH Site Evaluation Committee and the Federal Department of Energy, Otten said the Northern Pass and its Forward NH Fund will be, “critical to the success of the Balsams and the revitalization of the North Country’s economy.” Northern Pass is a 192-mile transmission line project that will bring 1,090 megawatts (MW) of clean, affordable energy from Hydro-Québec’s world-class hydroelectric plants in Canada to New Hampshire and to the rest of New England.
“I’m for clean energy, and renewable resources,” said Otten. “I am also for jobs, and growing our North Country economy. The socioeconomic situation of Coos County has been declining for years. It is only going to deteriorate further if we continue to rely only on what we have now.”
Otten said Northern Pass will boost the North Country’s tourism economy, not harm it as opponents have suggested. “Right here in New Hampshire there is another Hydro Quebec line that is taller than the average height of Northern Pass’ proposed line. It was built in 1986 and runs directly through major tourism areas without negative impacts. And, thirty-three wind towers were placed on mountain ridges above Dixville. It’s still one of the most beautiful places on earth – and always will be,” said Otten.
“If I thought for a minute that wind towers and Northern Pass would keep people away from the Balsams, I certainly would not be spearheading a $143 million investment into restoring it. But I am, and we are confident the electric infrastructure will have no impact on our ability to succeed,” he added.
Otten noted the building and re-opening of the Balsams will significantly boost the North Country’s economy, and Northern Pass has made a strong financial commitment to help the Balsams remain on track to begin construction in early summer.
“Beyond the benefits of clean, low-cost energy for New Hampshire consumers, Northern Pass’ $200 million Forward NH Fund will provide Coos County access to substantial resources to support economic development, tourism, and community betterment efforts,” said Bill Quinlan, president of Eversource New Hampshire Operations. “The Balsams redevelopment initiative is exactly the type of project the Forward NH Fund was created to support. We are pleased to provide a $2 million advance investment from the Fund to enable the Balsams’ strong progress to continue on schedule, and look forward to the hundreds of permanent jobs and exciting economic opportunities the Balsams revitalization will provide North Country communities.”
Otten added, “The North Country is facing the highest unemployment in New Hampshire, which has caused our young workers to leave in masses. There is a major drug addiction epidemic. Schools, roads and other infrastructure all need more funds to be fixed. Northern Pass’ Forward NH Fund can play an important role in helping to address many of these issues.”
The Northern Pass is projected to create 2,400 new construction jobs, with a labor agreement to ensure that as many jobs as possible go to qualified New Hampshire contractors and laborers. The Balsams is projected to create nearly 600 jobs during construction and up to 1,700 new jobs at build-out.
The Balsams’ project continues to gather great momentum. Over the last 10 months, the Balsams has achieved the following legislative and permitting milestones:
- May 2015 – The NH Legislature passes and Governor Hassan signs SB 30, allowing the NH Business Finance Authority to consider a $20 million loan guarantee for the project
- July 2015 – NHDES – 401 Water Quality Certificate to withdraw water from the Androscoggin River for snowmaking
- November 2015 – Coos County Planning Board and Delegation – zoning amendment approvals
- December 2015 – Coos County Planning Board – Planned Unit Development approval
- December 2015 – NHDES – Wetland Permit
- December 2015 – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit
The Balsams’ redevelopment proposal includes renovating the historic Dix House, Hampshire House and Hale House, as well as the acclaimed Panorama golf course and clubhouse designed by pioneering golf course architect Donald Ross. The Balsams Lake Village, which will encompass the Dix and Hampshire Houses, will feature a new Lake Gloriette House hotel, a 500-seat conference center, Nordic hot baths and spa, a performing arts center and an open-air marketplace. The resort’s fine cuisine and chef training programs, known worldwide, will return through multiple dining opportunities around the resort. All will embrace the farm-to-table concept by sourcing locally-grown meats, produce and dairy.
The plan also includes expanding The Balsams Wilderness Ski Area into the largest and most technically advanced ski resort on the East Coast. With a skiing base camp at 2,350 feet above sea level, in a true alpine climate zone, The Balsams is known to receive among the highest annual snow totals of any ski resort in the Northeast. At build-out it will offer 2,000 acres of alpine terrain accessed by 23 lifts, and 100 kilometers of Nordic trails.