Hassan to Malloy: Hydro Doesn't Need Support

May 8, 2013

Credit Chris Hunkeler / Flickr Creative Commons

Governor Maggie Hassan has sent a letter to the governor of Connecticut, Democrat Dannel Malloy, asking him to reject changes to that state’s renewable energy laws, called the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The changes are seen as a boost to the controversial Northern Pass Transmission line.

The Governor Hassan’s letter says the Connecticut proposal that would allow hydro to be counted toward that state’s renewable energy goals quote, “undermines our common goal of fostering new and small-scale renewable resources here in New England.”

Her letter notes when the New England states decided which energy facilities could qualify for regional subsidies, large scale hydro was deliberately left out. That was because such projects don’t need help in order to be profitable in the marketplace.

Hassan also expresses concern that the changes would exclude several small, wood-burning power plants in New Hampshire from receiving Connecticut subsidies. Many of these New Hampshire plants currently receive renewable energy credits (RECs) from Connecticut, and invested in pollution controls so that they would be able to do so. The income generated from selling these credits has been crucial for the plants' commercial viability.

Governor Malloy’s chief of staff, Mark Ojakian replied that accessing hydro-power would lower electricity rates, and be cleaner than the power from the wood-burning electric plants that Connecticut currently uses. He says doing so is quote a “win-win for Connecticut and the Region." He added that "the purchase of more expensive and less clean biomass is not an option." 

PSNH continues to say that the changes to the CT law are not necessary for the viability of the Northern Pass project. "A distinguishing and substantial benefit of Northern Pass is that it is can compete with other fuel sources without a subsidy or the need for legislative changes to existing RPS laws," says PSNH spokesman Mike Skelton in an email.

However, that does not mean that the plan couldn't possibly see any benefit from the change. At least one investing research firm, UBS Investors, has upgraded the stock of PSNH's parent company, Northeast Utilities, because of the likelihood that this bill will be signed into law by Governor Malloy.