Hundreds of people from the timber and renewable energy industries crowded the New Hampshire State House lawn Thursday, rallying for legislators to overturn two vetoes they say could put them out of business.
Standing before the loggers, solar installers and biomass workers gathered in the shadow of the state capitol dome, Republican state Sen. Kevin Avard had a clear message for undecided legislators -- and he delivered it in song:
“Override the veto and free my soul, these electric prices are out of control, I ain’t goin’ away,” he belted out to the tune of “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray, before leading the cheering crowd in a reprise.
Avard and others say Gov. Chris Sununu was wrong in June to veto bills subsidizing biomass power and expanding net metering in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire’s roughly 100 megawatts of wood-burning biomass plants provide one of the state’s few remaining markets for low-grade timber.
Loggers like Rebecca Crow of Littleton say they need that market in order to keep forests healthy and generate higher-value logs.
"It's our wood,” she said in her speech at the rally. “It should stay here in New Hampshire, and it should be used to provide energy to New Hampshire."
Advocates also say both bills will encourage home-grown energy development to replace fossil fuels, and help towns and businesses save on energy costs.
Sununu has argued bills would raise rates too much over the next three years. Some environmental groups that oppose the use of biomass also want that veto sustained.
Senators say their chamber seems poised to overturn both vetoes, but the House of Representatives remains split. Both bills originally passed with bipartisan support and two-thirds majorities.
Legislators will vote whether to override all six of the governor’s 2018 vetoes Sept. 13.