Environment

Rob Strong / Sierra Club

A new report from the Sierra Club says about 50 American municipalities are now working on using 100 percent renewable energy in the coming years.

The first New Hampshire town to get on board was Hanover, which says it’s nearly a quarter of the way toward using only renewable electricity by 2030.

EPA on Twitter

During his New Hampshire visit Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt signaled plans for new federal energy policies that could bolster a struggling regional industry – biomass.

In a letter to Gov. Chris Sununu, Pruitt suggests the agency plans to add biomass, including wood and other plant-based fuels, to its “‘all of the above’ energy portfolio.” (Read the full letter below.)

Michael Kappel via Flickr CC

With the Northern Pass transmission line on the rocks, regulators in Massachusetts are facing a big decision. They had planned to give that project a long term contract, but now might have to pick a different option.

Some are hoping it'll be another New Hampshire project, a transmission line proposal from National Grid called the Granite State Power Link. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with NHPR's energy reporter Annie Ropeik about that project and its prospects.


col&tasha, Flickr

Massachusetts is expected to decide by Friday if it can move forward on a deal with Northern Pass.

Since Eversource was denied a permit by the state of New Hampshire, other developers – large and small – have been eager to step up.

Massachusetts wants to sign a contract or contracts for 1,200 megawatts of renewable power by late 2020.

John K via Flickr CC

The town of Colebrook is the first to get money from a state trust fund for water infrastructure upgrades.

It comes from New Hampshire’s $236 million settlement with Exxon Mobil in 2015, over contamination from a gasoline additive known as MtBE.

Marine insight

Governor Chris Sununu says it looks unlikely new offshore drilling would affect New Hampshire, but regional fishery managers are still worried.

The U.S. Department of the Interior says it wants to open most of the nation's coastline to new oil and gas leases. Sununu opposes drilling off New Hampshire's Seacoast, and says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke assured him the North Atlantic won't be high priority.

Google maps

New Hampshire has put the brakes on the Northern Pass energy project for now, but some towns are still prepared to block it with local laws asserting their view on big utility development.

Plymouth is the latest municipality to approve an ordinance saying certain energy projects, while allowed under state law, are harmful to local health and environment.

When such laws are enforced, developers either have to go elsewhere, or sue to build in town.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state Site Evaluation Committee waded deeper into questions of Northern Pass's impact on the North Country on Wednesday.

Fewer protesters and even fewer supporters were there to listen than on the first day, as members continued their final deliberations on permitting the transmission line.

In discussions of how Northern Pass will affect land-use plans along its route, members seemed to grow more conflicted about how to define the tipping point where the project might become too impactful.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

UPDATE:  New Hampshire regulators began final discussions Tuesday on whether to grant a permit to the Northern Pass transmission line. 

State officials and public representatives at the Site Evaluation Committee in Concord will meet 12 times between now and Feb. 23.

NHPR File Photo

Eversource’s Northern Pass transmission line is the sole project picked for long-term energy contract negotiations with Massachusetts.

Officials made the announcement Thursday afternoon, less than a week before New Hampshire begins its final permitting deliberations on the controversial project.

Northern Pass would carry 1,090 megawatts of power from Hydro Quebec dams to the New England grid, over a partly-buried 192-mile power line. It would run under New Hampshire’s White Mountains and mainly follow existing transmission lines, ending in Deerfield.

Thomas Gehrke / Flickr Creative Commons

Energy developers are set to learn Thursday which of their projects will get long-term contracts to provide 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy to Massachusetts.

Several projects in New Hampshire are in the running.

Developers sent in more than 40 proposals to bring hydro, solar and wind power to Massachusetts, primarily from Northern New England and Canada.

New Boston Fire Chief Dan MacDonald

The freeze-thaw weather cycle of recent weeks is fueling ice jams in rivers across New Hampshire – including in New Boston, where a huge, persistent blockage could cause flooding this spring.

The jam on the Piscataquog River is more than 3,000 feet long – the length of 10 football fields.

New Boston Fire Chief Dan MacDonald says it's made of foot-thick icebergs that have melted and cracked, then frozen back up into a single solid glacier.

BOEM

Hearings on plans to open New England and most of the nation's coastline to offshore drilling have been postponed due to the government shutdown.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was set to talk about the proposal in Concord on Tuesday. It’s rescheduling that meeting and others this week in Maine, Boston, and Providence, while some of its funding is suspended and employees are furloughed.

Hearings in the drilling hubs of Louisiana and Alaska are also postponed this week. A hearing in Hartford, Connecticut, is still set for February.

Courtesy ReVision Energy

A new solar panel installation at Phillips Exeter Academy is now the largest at any school in the state.

The array of more than 1,500 solar panels was installed by Revision Energy. The company says it will provide the majority of the electric load for the private school’s new field house.

Christina Zlotnick with ReVision Energy says the continued decline in solar energy costs has more businesses interested in projects like this one.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state commission on the Seacoast’s high cancer rates signaled Friday it would push for cleanup at Coakley Landfill, despite objections from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The legislators and public representatives who make up the Cancer Cluster Investigation Commission have a report due this fall on what's driving those cancer rates, and they’ve honed in on the EPA’s Coakley Landfill Superfund site as a likely culprit.

Representative Charles McMahon, a Republican from Windham, chairs the commission.  

Andy Schafermeyer / N.H. Fish and Game

Residents can fish without a license for one day only Saturday as part of a twice-yearly state program.

The Fish and Game Department holds another free fishing day the first Saturday in June, but this is only the second time they've done one in the winter.

Inland fisheries chief Jason Smith says recent weather might make open water levels too high to fish in some places – which means this year is all about ice fishing.

File Photo

New Hampshire's Democratic congressional delegation is requesting that the Pease International Tradeport be included in a nationwide health impact study on chemicals such as PFOA found in drinking water.

Legislation authored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter establishing the study was signed into law by President Donald Trump last month.

The Pease Tradeport formerly served as an Air Force base. In 2014, the city of Portsmouth closed the Haven well at Pease after the Air Force found high chemical levels.

National Grid Map

Developers behind a transmission line that's competing with Northern Pass to supply renewable energy to Massachusetts will hold a listening session in Concord on Thursday.

National Grid's Granite State Power Link would carry 1,200 megawatts of Canadian wind power through Northern Vermont to Monroe, New Hampshire.

Boston-based nonprofit Citizens Energy is co-developing the project. They'll be at the Concord Holiday Inn from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday to talk about how the power line could benefit low-income families along its route.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

State officials say they're close to finalizing a deal that would bring clean water to Bedford residents whose wells have been contaminated with toxic chemicals called PFCs since 2016.

The contamination likely came from air emissions at the nearby Saint Gobain Plastics Plant. Since then, many residents have been drinking bottled water as they wait for Saint Gobain to pay to connect them to Manchester's water system.

File photo

New Hampshire's largest utility has completed the sale of its power-generating plants.

Eversource has sold its three large fossil generation facilities and two combustion turbines to Granite Shore Power LLC. The large plants include the Newington and Schiller stations and Bow Station in Merrimack.

The company's nine hydroelectric facilities have been acquired by Hull Street Energy, LLC and affiliates, based in Bethesda, Maryland.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The legislature is debating whether utilities should tell customers how much of their electric bills go toward renewable energy. 

Monthly energy bills already show how much each customer pays for things like transmission. Now, Rep. Michael Harrington is proposing adding a line, showing the cost per ratepayer of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS.

John K via Flickr CC

A state lawmaker wants entities that cause pollution in New Hampshire to pay in to the state's general fund as part of the cleanup.

Pixabay

Legislators are considering sharply lowering how much arsenic New Hampshire allows in drinking water – but regulators said in a committee hearing Wednesday it'd be easier said than done.

Right now, New Hampshire uses the federal arsenic limit of 10 parts per billion in drinking water.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

State lawmakers on Tuesday reaffirmed their support for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The RGGI program lets polluters across nine states either cut carbon emissions or buy carbon allowances. Right now, New Hampshire puts a fifth of the money from selling those allowances into energy efficiency projects, and rebates the rest to customers.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A Carroll County judge will soon decide if a lakefront landowner in Ossipee can sell her property to someone other than the town, which wants to turn it into a residents-only beach.

The town's plan to spend $1.2 million on land for an Ossipee Lake beach failed by just a handful of votes at a special town meeting in November. That land is currently a seasonal campground, owned by Dianne Sheehan.

Wikimedia commons

Governor Chris Sununu says he opposes oil drilling off New Hampshire's coast, as the federal government proposes opening the North Atlantic region and much of the nation's coastline to oil and gas production.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management wants to hold two auctions for offshore drilling space between New Jersey and Maine, in 2021 and 2023 – plus four more auctions in the South and Mid-Atlantic.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

State lawmakers on Wednesday put off voting on the future of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in New Hampshire.

They’d planned to consider two opposing bills about the program known as RGGI during their first session day of 2018.

One would have repealed the cap and trade program in New Hampshire entirely. Similar proposals have failed in the past.

The other bill would redirect the rebate money that residential energy users currently get from RGGI, and put it toward more energy efficiency projects in schools and low-income areas.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Dozens of bundled-up hikers tromped onto the snowy trails of five New Hampshire State Parks Monday, marking the frigid start of 2018 with the parks’ eighth annual First Day Hikes.  

The forecasted high at Wellington State Park in Bristol was only 3 degrees. Park workers handed out beanies, face buffs and hot cider as hikers headed into the woods.

Even the wind chill warning didn’t stop Kathy Bishop and Martha Doelle – both teachers from Enfield – from strapping on snowshoes for a trek up into the park's higher elevations.

via greenenergytimes.org

Two proposals in the next legislative session would slap extra fees on hybrid and electric vehicles, but but environmental advocates say it's an unfair penalty.

New Hampshire sets annual vehicle registration fees based on weight -- $30 or $40 for a small car, into the hundreds for a big truck. Then there's the fuel tax to cover road maintenance. But electric cars don't use gas, so they don't pay the tax.

NH Solar Shares

Plymouth will soon be home to the state's first small solar panel arrays designed to help low-income families. The nonprofit behind the project hopes other towns will follow suit.  

Solar Shares has raised more $115,000 for the arrays and plans to break ground on the first one, near the Common Man Inn, in the spring.

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