Energy

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Members of New Hampshire's energy industry joined lawmakers Monday at the state’s annual energy summit, which helps set priorities for next year's legislative session.

They debated the policies – and politics – that could help lower the region’s high electric costs, diversify and stabilize fuel supplies, and reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Governor Chris Sununu and Democratic rival Molly Kelly presented contrasting ideas on those issues at the start of the summit.  

NHPR File Photo

Energy has become a focal point in the race to become New Hampshire's next governor.

The region’s high energy rates make it a key economic issue, and climate change make it a crucial environmental one.

Democrats Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand and Republican Governor Chris Sununu are all working to differentiate themselves on those challenges.

Marchand is a self-described energy wonk. He's gone all in on the details of what he calls "generational change."

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Residents of the Manchester area got a chance on Tuesday to ask representatives of Liberty Utilities about its proposed natural gas pipeline, The Granite Bridge.

The 27-mile pipeline would link two existing pipelines in New Hampshire that run north to south. It would be buried along Route 101, between Stratham and Manchester, and would include a large liquefied natural gas storage tank in Epping.

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Governors from every New England state but Maine are weighing in on lowering energy rates.

Their joint statement comes as they meet on energy and other issues with leaders from Eastern Canada.

The five governors say they'll work to encourage energy efficiency this coming winter. They say more hydro, wind and natural gas capacity will help lower rates and boost reliability too.

flickr/creative commons

The mayors of New Hampshire's 13 cities are pushing back against Gov. Chris Sununu's recent veto of two energy bills.

The mayors plan to send a letter to legislative leaders, asking them to overturn the vetoes in September.

Courtesy of Twin Pines Housing

Construction is now officially underway on New Hampshire's first net-zero, multi-family housing project.

Rep. Annie Kuster joined state and local officials for the groundbreaking Wednesday in Lebanon.

The building’s 29 units will not only be energy-neutral, their electric use offset by solar panels, but also affordable. Resident incomes will be capped at about 60 percent of the area median, or about $42,000 for a family of four.

Saratoga Associates

After years of planning and debate, construction on a wind farm in the town of Antrim is scheduled to begin next week.

Walden Green Energy, the company behind the project, has notified state and local officials that it intends to break ground on or around August 6.

An advocacy group says the state's renewable energy mandates rely too much on out-of-state investments and so-called "dirty" fuels.

New Hampshire's renewable energy policy aims to get the state using 25 percent renewable power by 2025. To get there, it increases the required use of different types of renewable fuels every year.

Michael Kappel via Flickr CC

A new study says rural residents in New Hampshire and the Northeast spend more of their income on energy than almost anywhere else in the country.

The study from the advocacy group American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found that people living outside metropolitan areas in the Northeast and central Southeast had the nation's highest energy burdens.

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New Hampshire loggers want the legislature to overturn Gov. Chris Sununu's veto of a bill to bolster the biomass industry.

They will make their case Thursday night at a closed meeting in Bridgewater.

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Concord is the latest city to set a goal of working toward using all renewable energy sources in the coming decades. 

Concord's city council unanimously passed a non-binding resolution on the issue Monday night. 

The new goal includes public works, homes and businesses, and covers heat and transportation, as well as electricity. 

Over the next year, the city will seek public input and write a strategic plan on how it could achieve the goals. 

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Concord's city council will vote Monday night on setting a city-wide goal of using all-renewable energy sources within a few decades. It's the second time they've discussed the plan, and this time, it's expected to pass.

Rob Werner is a Concord city councilor who helped write the energy resolution. He says the first time council took it up, they heard concerns from the city's chamber of commerce and conservation committee, and that the plan came off as too binding.

New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association

Governor Chris Sununu is standing by his veto of a bill to boost the biomass industry – even as more of the wood-burning plants say they may shut down as a result.

A wood buyer for Bridgewater Biomass confirmed Tuesday that the plant took the veto as a signal about the industry's future, and stopped buying new wood in late June.

The Pinetree Power plants in Tamworth and Bethlehem did the same, according to spokeswoman Carol Churchill of their parent company, ENGIE North America.

Eversource

Eversource is doubling down on what it says will be the best way to run a new power line under the Seacoast's Little Bay. 

The transmission line known as the Seacoast Reliability Project is how Eversource wants to meet the mandates of New England’s electric grid operator.

First proposed in 2016, the project includes a mile of cable buried beneath Little Bay, between Durham and Newington.

Asea / Flikr Creative Commons

Governor Sununu signed a bill on Wednesday that would extend the subsidy for the Burgess BioPower biomass plant in Berlin by three years.

Under a 2011 agreement, Eversource pays Burgess at above-market prices. That's capped at 100 million dollars, but that could be reached sooner than anticipated.

So, with this new bill, the subsidy will continue for three years after hitting the cap. 

Those who opposed this bill argued that those above-market prices would be passed on to customers.

Governor Chris Sununu has vetoed a bill to expand electric net metering in New Hampshire, but renewable energy advocates hope legislators will force the bill through.

Ted Vansant runs a solar business and leads the state's sustainable energy advocacy group. He calls the governor's move short-sighted.

"I really feel like he's missing an opportunity to move our state toward the growth of good jobs, clean air, clean water, and true long-term cost savings," Vansant says. (Read his organization's full statement below.)

Fred Bever / Maine Public

By Fred Bever, Maine Public

 

While the Trump administration is working to prop up coal-fired power plants, many states are on the hunt for renewable energy. In New England, though, a plan by Massachusetts to tap into Canada's vast, low-polluting hydroelectric dam system is drawing fire.

 

NHPR File Photo

Governor Chris Sununu has signaled he’ll sign a pair of energy-related bills approved by legislators at the end of session last week.

One gives lawmakers control of the system benefits charge. That's a small fee on energy bills that helps pay for energy efficiency upgrades for low-income ratepayers.

Legislators also voted to tell utilities to list the costs of complying with renewable energy standards on electric bills.

Sununu says that will help consumers understand what’s behind New Hampshire’s high energy rates, which are some of the highest in the country.

Liberty Utilities' natural gas pipeline proposal gets its first close-up with the public tonight in Epping.

The company will hold an open house to answer questions about the project, known as Granite Bridge.  

The 27-mile proposed pipeline would run underground along Route 101 from Stratham to Manchester. Liberty also wants to build a liquefied natural gas storage facility in an empty quarry in Epping.

Wednesday’s open house marks the start of public input on the project, as Liberty works to get Granite Bridge approved.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Concord’s city council wants more time to get local businesses on board with a plan to transition to all renewable energy sources within about 30 years.

Councilors in the state capital voted Monday night to get a fiscal review of the proposal before aiming to pass it next month.

Saratoga Associates

The state Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a much-debated wind farm in the town of Antrim.

Plans for the project began nearly ten years ago, but have been tangled in regulatory and legal battles. Nearby residents argue the proposed turbines threaten the natural landscape and wildlife, as well as human health.

File photo / Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New England’s power grid operator is getting pushback on a study that said some worst-case scenarios could lead to rolling blackouts in the region by 2024.

Jim Richmond via Flickr Creative Commons

Critics of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant voiced concerns about the facility’s bid for a new license at an annual federal meeting in Hampton Wednesday night.

Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission say the Seacoast plant is currently operating safely, despite cracks spreading through some of its concrete.

New Hampshire has high electricity rates, a major nuclear power plant, and has been in a years-long battle over hydropower development. How do these factors impact energy policy in the Granite State? We look at the state's newly updated energy plan, which prioritizes lowering rates, and has less to say about mass transit and renewable energy.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Energy leaders from around New England met in Manchester Friday to brainstorm how to keep the region’s lights on at a reasonable price long-term.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Senator Maggie Hassan was in Nashua Friday to tout her proposed study on the renewable energy practice of net metering, which lets ratepayers offset their bills by selling power they generate back into the grid.

It’s commonly used for homeowners to save on energy costs with rooftop solar panels, but it’s possible with bigger customers and energy developments, too – depending on state laws.

Hassan, a Democrat, wants the National Academy of Sciences to study the issue, so states like New Hampshire can fine-tune those rules.

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Eversource has filed a new version of its request for a new hearing on its proposed Northern Pass transmission line.

The state Site Evaluation Committee, or SEC, is already scheduled to discuss the utility's appeal on May 24.

But the committee hadn't yet put out its formal, written denial of the project the first time Eversource made that request, in February.

creative commons

The New Hampshire Senate Thursday put an end to one effort to expand energy efficiency funding in the state.

They voted down a bill regarding how the state spends money from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI.

The proposal, which had passed the House, would have gotten rid of the RGGI rebate for residential ratepayers.

A solar power developer wants to install an array on a sealed-off Superfund site in Londonderry. It’s one of the largest solar projects currently in the works in the state. 

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: April 20, 2018

Apr 20, 2018

Legislators find the state may be on the hook to pay a lot more money to hospitals for people with no insurance or for those on Medicaid.  A proposed constitutional amendment that would give crime victims more rights gets hung up in a House committee.  And the state emphasizes cost and competition in its new energy plan. 

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