energy rates

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

State senators heard three hours of testimony Tuesday from dozens in the New Hampshire forest products industry who support a plan to resurrect biomass energy subsidies.

The plan, proposed in an amendment on an unrelated bill, is a version of a law passed last year that's since stalled in a legal challenge before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Factories in New Hampshire pay more for energy than they would in almost any other state. There are steps they can take to reduce their costs – but those changes can be expensive, and they could even require policy reform.

Still, some businesses are making investments and getting creative to try and save on energy.

Taylor Caswell, Commissioner of the Department of Business and Economic Affairs joins us. The state's economy is looking robust with unemployment the lowest in the region. But there's also a labor shortage, workforce development challenges, and high energy costs for businesses. We get Caswell's take on these issues -- and on what senate Democrats are proposing: freezing business tax cuts.

NEPOOL

Energy can be tough to understand. When we flip a light switch, we know the lights should come on. But we might not know where that power came from – or why it costs what it costs.

In New England, much of those costs are controlled by a select group of stakeholders – called the New England Power Pool, or NEPOOL.

NEPOOL is now facing criticism for a lack of transparency, and for decisions that could be raising the already high cost of energy in the region.

creative commons

Eversource’s residential customers will likely see their bills increase in February, after the utility asks state regulators to approve a proposed rate hike this week.

New Hampshire's largest utility says it needs to increase its default electric service rate for the first half of next year by about half a cent per kilowatt-hour.  

A lobbying group that has supported Gov. Chris Sununu’s energy policies wants federal regulators to invalidate a new state subsidy for the biomass industry.

The legislature passed the subsidy by one vote, over Sununu’s veto earlier this year.

It will require utilities to buy energy from biomass and trash-burning power plants at a discounted rate, passing the extra cost onto customers, for the next three years.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Members of New Hampshire's energy industry joined lawmakers Monday at the state’s annual energy summit, which helps set priorities for next year's legislative session.

They debated the policies – and politics – that could help lower the region’s high electric costs, diversify and stabilize fuel supplies, and reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Governor Chris Sununu and Democratic rival Molly Kelly presented contrasting ideas on those issues at the start of the summit.  

The Debate Over N.H.'s Biomass Industry

Sep 7, 2018

We unravel the complicated debate over N.H.'s biomass industry.  This spring, the governor vetoed two energy-related bills designed to subsidize the biomass industry and expand the state's net metering program.  The governor says the bills would inflate already-high electric rates while supporters argue subsidies are crucial for the forest industry and renewable energy.  The veto created an uproar and an effort is underway to overturn the vetoes on Sept. 13, the legislative "Veto Day." 

GUESTS:

NHPR File Photo

Energy has become a focal point in the race to become New Hampshire's next governor.

The region’s high energy rates make it a key economic issue, and climate change make it a crucial environmental one.

Democrats Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand and Republican Governor Chris Sununu are all working to differentiate themselves on those challenges.

Marchand is a self-described energy wonk. He's gone all in on the details of what he calls "generational change."

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

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.