Energy

Courtesy of Keene State College

Keene State College is pledging to run its heat plant completely off biofuels, rather than heating oil, in less than two years. In that same window, it will look to cut per capita electric, heat and water use by 20 percent.

Those are among a number of new sustainability goals the college is announcing this week.

By 2030, the school is also pledging to cut overall greenhouse gas emissions by half over current levels, as well as divert upwards of 90 percent of its waste. 

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The Northern Pass project will go back before the state Site Evaluation Committee next month.

The panel denied the huge power line proposal in February, and developer Eversource had asked it to reconsider.

Now that its written denial of the project is out, the committee has set a hearing on the issue for May 24 in Concord, with an extra day scheduled for June 4 if necessary.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Lebanon is pursuing several energy-related efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint and lower power costs citywide.

One is what’s known as municipal, or community, aggregation. Under that model, city residents and businesses could opt-in to collectively purchase electricity.  That would enable them to buy wholesale power at relatively low rates.  

Flicker CC / https://flic.kr/p/drsrm8

A proposal for New Hampshire's biggest solar farm doesn't pass muster with zoning laws in Concord.

The Zoning Board of Appeals this week rejected the 54-acre solar farm because it had too many "impervious surfaces" that would cause rain to run off instead of soak into the ground.

Project developer NextEra will consider whether to appeal. Spokesman Bryan Garner acknowledged to the Concord Monitor that the project doesn't "fit neatly or conform to existing zoning codes."

Sunset Power Lines
Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

In an effort to cut down on infrastructure costs and reduce energy bills for consumers, Liberty Utilities is looking to install batteries in hundreds of homes in the Upper Valley this fall.

The effort is a pilot program involving 300 customers in the Lebanon area, spokesperson John Shore said. Ultimately, the company plans to expand to about 1,000 homes 

PSNH

The first law of thermodynamics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can change from one form to another. One of those forms is heat. And now an entrepreneur in New Hampshire says he has found a way to make use of the heat given off at power plants to increase the efficiency of those power plants and generate more electricity.

Granite Geek David Brooks, a reporter at the Concord Monitor, joins All Things Considered host Peter Biello to explain how this works.

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

Robert Garrova for NHPR

The City of Nashua announced today a new program to bring more solar power to the city.

 

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess outlined the campaign at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter which switched on its own 131-panel solar array earlier this year.

 

It’s called the “Solarize + Campaign,” and the plan is to allow residents and local businesses to pool resources in order to get better deals on solar energy construction and efficiency improvements.

 

Maine In, N.H. Out for Energy Contract with Massachusetts

Mar 28, 2018
Sam Evans-Brown /NHPR

Massachusetts energy officials have announced they're going with Plan B to bring Canadian hydroelectric power to the Bay State.

They've selected a back-up project that runs transmission lines through Maine, after New Hampshire state regulators refused to allow Plan A – the controversial Northern Pass project.

But the Maine project, known as New England Clean Energy Connect, also faces an uncertain future.

In Massachusetts, the announcement got kudos and criticism from those closely watching the state's selection of a massive clean energy project:

ISO-New England

New England has gotten federal approval for a first-in-the-nation type of power supply auction. It'll let new renewable energy projects take over for old fossil fuel plants on the grid.

Once a year, the nonprofit grid operator ISO-New England holds an auction for power generators who want to supply energy for the region, starting three years out. 

Courtesy photo

Governor Chris Sununu says state environmental regulators will roll out what he calls a New Hampshire-first energy policy within a few weeks.

He offered few details Thursday at a conference with clean energy advocates, but he spoke broadly of balancing technology with energy costs.

“For so long we’ve had this idea that – that either you’re all in on renewables or you’re all in on low rates…. That is old school thinking. We can have our cake and we can eat it too.”

Offshore Drilling Debate Revived In New England

Mar 7, 2018

A public hearing earlier this week attracted environmentalists, fishing groups, and many others who oppose President Trump's new proposal to expand offshore drilling in the Atlantic, including off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. We talk with NHPR's energy and environmental reporter Annie Ropeik about the latest developments and what impact offshore drilling might have for the state. 

Eversource

The Department of Environmental Services has finished a long-awaited report on a Seacoast power line proposal from Eversource.

The DES is recommending the state Site Evaluation Committee approve the 13-mile reliability project – with conditions.

Those center on the potential water quality and sediment effects of Eversource’s plan to bury nearly a mile of cable under Little Bay, between Durham and Newington.

Before the state decides whether to permit the project, DES wants Eversource to test its proposed method, which involves blowing a trench across the bay bottom.

EPA on Twitter

During his New Hampshire visit Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt signaled plans for new federal energy policies that could bolster a struggling regional industry – biomass.

In a letter to Gov. Chris Sununu, Pruitt suggests the agency plans to add biomass, including wood and other plant-based fuels, to its “‘all of the above’ energy portfolio.” (Read the full letter below.)

Michael Kappel via Flickr CC

With the Northern Pass transmission line on the rocks, regulators in Massachusetts are facing a big decision. They had planned to give that project a long term contract, but now might have to pick a different option.

Some are hoping it'll be another New Hampshire project, a transmission line proposal from National Grid called the Granite State Power Link. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with NHPR's energy reporter Annie Ropeik about that project and its prospects.


Marine insight

Governor Chris Sununu says it looks unlikely new offshore drilling would affect New Hampshire, but regional fishery managers are still worried.

The U.S. Department of the Interior says it wants to open most of the nation's coastline to new oil and gas leases. Sununu opposes drilling off New Hampshire's Seacoast, and says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke assured him the North Atlantic won't be high priority.

NHPR Photo

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers wants Gov. Chris Sununu to support another big New Hampshire-based power line, now that the future of the Northern Pass project is in doubt.

The controversial transmission line proposal from Eversource is supposed to get a big contract with Massachusetts to help meet the state's renewable energy goals. But New Hampshire regulators denied Northern Pass its final permit last week. Now, Bay State officials are weighing whether to pick a different option.

Some New Hampshire legislators hope that option will be National Grid’s Granite State Power Link, a competitor to Northern Pass that’s still in the early stages of development. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

New England utility markets are still processing Thursday’s rejection of the Northern Pass project application at the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee.

Eversource’s 192-mile transmission line proposal had just been picked by Massachusetts for a big contract to bring Canadian hydropower to New England.

Now that the project has stalled, Massachusetts says only that it's re-evaluating. Its other options include other big, hydro-fueled transmission lines.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

UPDATE:  New Hampshire regulators began final discussions Tuesday on whether to grant a permit to the Northern Pass transmission line. 

State officials and public representatives at the Site Evaluation Committee in Concord will meet 12 times between now and Feb. 23.

NHPR File Photo

Eversource’s Northern Pass transmission line is the sole project picked for long-term energy contract negotiations with Massachusetts.

Officials made the announcement Thursday afternoon, less than a week before New Hampshire begins its final permitting deliberations on the controversial project.

Northern Pass would carry 1,090 megawatts of power from Hydro Quebec dams to the New England grid, over a partly-buried 192-mile power line. It would run under New Hampshire’s White Mountains and mainly follow existing transmission lines, ending in Deerfield.

Thomas Gehrke / Flickr Creative Commons

Energy developers are set to learn Thursday which of their projects will get long-term contracts to provide 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy to Massachusetts.

Several projects in New Hampshire are in the running.

Developers sent in more than 40 proposals to bring hydro, solar and wind power to Massachusetts, primarily from Northern New England and Canada.

Julian- / Flickr Creative Commons

Some New Hampshire business owners say the Trump administration's new tax on imported solar panels will slow the growth of residential solar use in the Granite State.

The tariff starts at 30 percent and drops 5 percent in each of the next three years. It's not as severe as Trump could have imposed, and it’s meant to boost the American solar manufacturing industry.

BOEM

Hearings on plans to open New England and most of the nation's coastline to offshore drilling have been postponed due to the government shutdown.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was set to talk about the proposal in Concord on Tuesday. It’s rescheduling that meeting and others this week in Maine, Boston, and Providence, while some of its funding is suspended and employees are furloughed.

Hearings in the drilling hubs of Louisiana and Alaska are also postponed this week. A hearing in Hartford, Connecticut, is still set for February.

Michael Kappel / Flickr CC

A new report says New England could see rolling power blackouts within a matter of years without more stable fuel supplies.

ISO-New England is an independent nonprofit that manages the six-state power grid. The group studied how fuel supply and demand might play out in those states in the hypothetical winter of 2024 to 2025.

Read the report here.

NHPR File Photo

As Massachusetts prepares to announce where it will buy 1,200 megawatts of new renewable power, the 46 projects in the running – including many with a big footprint in New Hampshire – are hoping for the best.

Among the smaller-scale wind, hydro and solar installations that are vying for a Massachusetts contract are big transmission lines to carry Canadian hydro- and wind power.

Those include Eversource’s Northern Pass, and two National Grid plans to use mostly existing power lines in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

National Grid Map

Developers behind a transmission line that's competing with Northern Pass to supply renewable energy to Massachusetts will hold a listening session in Concord on Thursday.

National Grid's Granite State Power Link would carry 1,200 megawatts of Canadian wind power through Northern Vermont to Monroe, New Hampshire.

Boston-based nonprofit Citizens Energy is co-developing the project. They'll be at the Concord Holiday Inn from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday to talk about how the power line could benefit low-income families along its route.

Wikimedia commons

Governor Chris Sununu says he opposes oil drilling off New Hampshire's coast, as the federal government proposes opening the North Atlantic region and much of the nation's coastline to oil and gas production.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management wants to hold two auctions for offshore drilling space between New Jersey and Maine, in 2021 and 2023 – plus four more auctions in the South and Mid-Atlantic.

Kim Carpenter via Flickr CC

As the record cold continues, programs in New Hampshire that help people pay their heating bills are seeing more demand.

In Sullivan and Cheshire counties, Southwestern Community Services chief operating officer Beth Daniels says they have about as many enrollees so far this year as normal – around 3,500, with at least 5,000 expected by the end of winter.

But she says the cold is having an impact:

"All last week and already today has been phenomenally busy, just people calling us out of heat, out of fuel, or very [close] to being out,” she says.

via NEPGA

New England's electrical grid is working overtime to keep up with power demand during this record cold spell – but analysts say recent upgrades to the system's safety net are paying off.

Dan Dolan is president of the New England Power Generators Association. He says his members learned their lesson from 2014's Polar Vortex, when fuel prices spiked as power suppliers scrambled to meet demand.

Intriguing: Top 2017 Science and Tech Stories

Dec 20, 2017
Allegra Boverman, NHPR

We discuss the top stories in science, technology, the environment and energy in New Hampshire in the past year.  From the eclipse that captivated the nation's attention to the biofabrication industry gaining steam in the Manchester Millyard, we look at top stories nationally and in New Hampshire, including extreme weather, solar power, and a bitcoin bubble.  Plus intriguing discoveries in outer space and in the human body.


Flicker CC / https://flic.kr/p/drsrm8

Construction of the state’s largest solar array is set to wrap up by the end of the year.

The project, in Moultonborough, will help power the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative's grid.

The array is the first energy source the Electric Co-op will own and operate itself -- it buys the rest of its power for its 84,000 customers, in 115 towns across the state, on the open market.

The new solar project will only cover about 1 percent of that load, but spokesman Seth Wheeler says it’s a long-term investment.

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