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At Sig Sauer, Sununu Defends Energy Vetoes, Promises Rate Savings

Annie Ropeik

Governor Chris Sununu was with business leaders and state legislators in Epping Friday, talking about lowering energy costs in the state.

Sununu spoke at Sig Sauer's firearms training range. He says retaining big, industrial employers like Sig Sauer means keeping energy costs down.

"These jobs could be easily lost if we're not putting a lot of these manufacturers first, their needs first, understanding what's important to them to create our thriving economy,” he says.

Representatives from Sig Sauer and other businesses said they knew they could save millions on energy by moving out of state.

They said more natural gas pipeline capacity – including through Liberty Utilities’ new Granite Bridge pipeline proposal – and a diverse portfolio of fuel sources would lower their bills and help them stay.

One panelist on the roundtable was Chris Suprock, a former state legislative candidate who runs an engineering firm in Warren.

"One of the main things that needs to happen is the encouragement and not the shunning of specific types of generation capacity,” Suprock says.

He says that means cheap, consistent fuels like nuclear and natural gas – rather than renewables that Suprock calls "niche."

At the event, Sununu repeatedly defended his recent vetoes of two bills that would, in part, have supported New Hampshire’s biomass and solar power industries.

“We know we have to have a broad renewable energy portfolio,” Sununu told reporters after the roundtable. “But we have to look at the cost of those rates as it pertains to the actual ratepayer – to that elderly family, to the low-income family, who traditionally has to pay a large portion of the costs on this.”

Legislators and advocates want to see Sununu’s vetoes overturned in September.

But Sununu urged business leaders to call their lawmakers and support the vetoes, which he says are geared toward “the greater good" of lowering rates and allowing fair competition.

Sununu also signed three Republican-backed energy bills on Friday.

One requires utilities to list details of renewable energy policy costs on consumers’ bills. Another gives the legislature control of a ratepayer fee called the system benefits charge, which funds low-income energy efficiency projects.

The third bill requires state utility regulators to oppose any regional or federal policies that would raise electric rates or go against current New Hampshire law.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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