Energy | New Hampshire Public Radio

Energy

The landmark Supreme Court ruling known as Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency held that greenhouse gases were pollutants that could be regulated by the executive branch, and defined de facto federal climate policy in the United States for a decade.

Could it soon be reversed? 

Today, we're pleased to share one of our favorite episodes, which was recently awarded a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for "Best News Documentary".

Editor's note: This episode was first broadcast in 2020, before the November election. Since then, a Trump Era rule tailored to curtail the authority of MA v EPA was thrown out by the Circuit court of appeals. A coalition of Republican States' attorneys general have now asked the Supreme Court to overturn that decision.

The Executive Council heard more from Governor Chris Sununu’s nominee to the Public Utilities Commission at a hearing Wednesday.  

The Public Utilities Commission is made up of three commissioners that oversee electric, natural gas, water and sewer utilities. It’s often a place where state energy policy is carried out.

The fight against fossil fuel expansion in New England has a new front in Killingly, Connecticut. Climate activists want the state to reject a proposed natural gas plant there, which is tied to the company behind a controversial pipeline development currently underway in Minnesota and a recently completed natural gas line in New England.

President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal seeks to help reach the administration's ambitious clean energy goals for the U.S. over the next decade.

Part of that means funding upgrades to the country's electric transmission system — the poles and wires that everyone relies on to access power nearby or from hundreds of miles away. As New England experts explain, these upgrades are essential to reach clean energy goals in the region.

Liberty

Some state weatherization contractors are warning that inaction by state regulators on New Hampshire’s energy efficiency plan could harm their business.  

Liberty

Liberty Utilities has suspended a home weatherization program for its natural gas customers because of delays at the Public Utilities Commission in approving expanded energy efficiency goals for the state.

Other electric and gas utilities say they could soon face similar choices that will affect their customers if regulators continue to leave the issue undecided.

Community Power New Hampshire

A bill that would transform municipalities’ control of their energy sources will now move forward, after advocates and legislators found agreement on key elements.

The House Science, Technology and Energy committee voted unanimously on Monday morning to recommend that the full House pass an amended version of the community power bill.  

Community Power New Hampshire

State lawmakers heard testimony Friday on a controversial bill that would change how community power programs could operate in the state.  

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A bill that would require New Hampshire to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 got a first hearing in a state legislative committee Friday, earning support from state officials and the public, but meeting with skepticism from some members of the Republican majority.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Dartmouth College has announced that it will not move forward with a plan to replace its current heating plant with one fueled by wood chips.

The college is looking at implementing a number of different renewable energy sources instead.

Community Power New Hampshire

More than 20 local governments sent a letter to the state’s Public Utilities Commission last week asking it to develop rules and regulations that would support community power programs.

These programs allow municipalities and counties to purchase power on behalf of residents and businesses within their jurisdiction. Advocates say this is one way to get more energy from renewable resources, and at possibly lower costs to ratepayers. 

Utilities would still be the ones to distribute that energy.

A piece of cardboard reads "We are a nation made strong by people like you. Thank you RBG." There is a candle in front of the small poster.
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A continuación, encuentra las noticias del lunes 21 de septiembre.  

Puedes escucharlas haciendo click en el audio o leerlas.

Una nota: Lo escrito es nuestro guión para nuestras grabaciones. Tenlo en cuenta si ven algunas anotaciones diferentes.

Autoridades reportan nuevos casos, algunos de residents menores a 18

Flikr Creative Commons / Claudio Schwarz

A new study says New England has the largest gap in energy burdens between low-income energy burdens and median energy burdens than any other region in the country. 

Household energy burden is the percentage of annual income spent on yearly energy bills.

Nick Mott

When the debate over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge first emerged, most people had never heard of global warming. So over the last four decades, the controversies over oil in the Refuge and climate change evolved on different tracks.

Now, those tracks are intersecting. In the final episode of The Refuge miniseries -- a dive into the resulting tensions and contradictions around oil and climate.

For the month of August, Outside/In is featuring Refuge, a four-part Peabody award-winning documentary series from Threshold. This is part four.

Reverend Don Ruggles, courtesy Chisasibi Heritage & Cultural Centre.

On July 6, a federal judge ordered the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline -- a victory for the resistance movement led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

But pull on the thread of this moment and you'll find it’s connected to a long and complicated history, of treaties made, kept, and violated, as well as the Supreme Court decisions that constitute so-called “native law."

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Eversource has notified the state that it plans to power up its new Seacoast transmission line at the end of this month, on May 29.

The Seacoast Reliability Project runs about 13 miles between Madbury and Portsmouth, with a mile buried underwater beneath Little Bay, between Durham and Newington.

Eversource proposed the project in 2015 as part of its response to a call for more reliable infrastructure from the regional grid operator, ISO-New England. The utility says the line will help carry electric load and back up other transmission lines in the area.

Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative has taken the rare step of adjusting its winter electric rate mid-season, due to warm temperatures and low prices. 

Enel Green Power North America

A Massachusetts-based company is withdrawing its application to build a battery energy storage system in Littleton.  

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New England used more wind and solar power than ever last year, but fossil fuels still make up half the electricity generated in the region.

In new data, power grid operator ISO-New England says 49% of electricity generated in New England last year was from natural gas. Less than 1% was from coal or oil. 

Natural gas use has roughly plateaued in the region in the past few years. It peaked in 2015.

ENEL Green Power North America

Littleton residents continued to evaluate a proposal to build a battery energy storage system in town at a public hearing Tuesday night. 

The proposed battery storage system would cover about 13 acres in a rural zone in Littleton. At Tuesday’s meeting and in previous hearings, residents raised concerns about fire safety.

“There were a lot of what if questions,” said Jessica Daine, chair of the Littleton Planning Board.

Enel Green Power North America

The Littleton Zoning Board will continue to hear from residents at a hearing Tuesday about a proposed battery storage project.

Battery energy storage systems use rechargeable lithium ion batteries to store electricity from the grid when prices are low.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu has a new plan to expand renewable energy net metering for towns and businesses. It’s an alternative to a plan he’s blocked the past two years.

file

For the third year running, net metering is set to be a top renewable energy issue at the State House in 2020.

Advocates have tried for the past two years to pass expansions of net metering for towns and businesses.

Net metering would let these large customers generate more of their own power and save on their bills by selling the excess back to the regional grid.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A power plant in Bow -- the largest coal-burning plant left in New England -- has been the target of protests and civil disobedience in recent weeks. 

This month, activists from across New England have twice attempted to block trains carrying shipments of coal to the plant. Protests on the train tracks and at the plant have so far resulted in dozens of arrests.   

The activists say Merrimack Station should close. Its owners argue that criticism is misplaced. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Northern New England began an ambitious planning process for offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine Thursday.

More than 200 stakeholders packed into the first meeting of the new regional wind task force at UNH.

They say the new industry will take years to develop – but it could be a powerful way for Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to fight climate.

File photo

Eversource says it plans to become carbon neutral by 2030 – but the move won't change the kind of energy that's delivered to customers.

The utility, which is the largest in New England and New Hampshire, says it’s the first investor-owned utility in the U.S. to make this move.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR file

Protesters at a climate strike in Concord Friday called on state lawmakers to oppose a natural gas pipeline plan from Liberty Utilities.

The rally was part of another global day of protests, tied to a major United Nations climate change summit taking place in Spain.

BOEM

The state has begun preparing for potential offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine.

Governor Chris Sununu issued an executive order Tuesday calling for two studies on the issue, due by January 2021. They'll look at how offshore wind could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New Hampshire, and at how existing port infrastructure could benefit.

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

An application to build what could be New Hampshire's largest solar array cleared its first step at a public meeting Tuesday with the state's Site Evaluation Committee.

Committee members unanimously voted that NextEra Energy’s application was complete.

The 30 megawatt solar array in Fitzwilliam could be the state’s largest and is the first solar proposal to come before the SEC.

NextEra had requested a waiver for on certain decommissioning requirements of the solar array.  But the committee unanimously voted to defer ruling on that request until later in the process.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Dartmouth College had a plan to build a wood chip burning plant to heat its campus. This would have added a new biomass market for landowners and foresters within a 50 mile radius of Hanover.  

But, after months of local pressure the College said it would reconsider building the plant. Dartmouth’s decision speaks to the complexity of using wood biomass to transition away from burning fossil fuels.


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