Energy and Environment

Proposal for a bill regarding energy created in, and passing through, New Hampshire.

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Richard Clogston
- Warren
Proposal for a bill regarding energy created in, and passing through, New Hampshire.

There's a lot of debate about energy in New Hampshire these days. Northern Pass, which is a power transmission line running through the state of New Hampshire from Quebec into Massachusetts and beyond, has strong opinions surrounding it.  There's also a proposal to build a natural gas pipeline across the Southern third of the state.  And then there's the ever-growing forest of windmills dotting ridges all over the state.

 

There was similar debate back in the 1970's about proposals that had bipartisan support from our politicians, even being backed by noted populist Mel Thompson.  The people of New Hampshire, however, didn't want it, and it didn't happen.  Such is the case today, at least as far as the will of the people goes.  A recent poll cited by the LFDA indicates that 86% of New Hampshire voters do NOT want Northern Pass.  Unfortunately, there is reason to believe that it's already a done deal, and now that it's in the news the people doing it are trying to make people like it.  Note to them; we don't.

 

It's the same sort of reaction the wind farms are getting, and the gas pipeline.  Whatever the reasons, there seem to be several, and it comes down to the fact that the people of this state are dead set against them.  These reasons run the gamut, some disliking how they look, others, the fact that New Hampshire doesn't actually get any of this energy.

 

Which raises the question; just where does New Hampshire get its energy?  It seems that the state's largest utility provider, PSNH, used to produce its own power through a branch known as Eversource Energy, using a variety of methods.  The state allowed PSNH to sell off Eversource and buy its energy on the open market in a move that would supposedly save them $300 million in the short term.  The deal included legislative language that forced PSNH to keep the Eversource plants open for an additional 18 months, for the people whose jobs would be lost when they closed.

 

In spite of this, somebody - and I've had some difficulty in finding out who - is spending millions building wind farms in Groton and other places.  From what I understand - and, again, my sources are few and sketchy - this power is going elsewhere.  One source said that maybe as much as 10% of the energy these wind farms produces actually get used here in NH.

 

So we can't make it in a cost effective manner, except by using windmills, which admittedly don't create a whole lot compared to a power plant running off wood chips or a hydroelectric dam.  What NH seems to be good for is a roadbed for power going elsewhere.  And then "elsewhere" is where our power comes from.

 

So with that as a backdrop, here's my proposal:  That the state legislature pass the following law:  Any power created in, or passing through, New Hampshire except by truck or train be made available for use by New Hampshire utilities first, at a price equal to or less than the price of the energy they're currently buying.  If a pipeline, a transmission line, or a wind farm can't sell here at a competitive price, you can't come through.  Period.

 

Now, if the Northern Pass lines send more power than PSNH and the COOP can use, they're more than welcome to sell the rest elsewhere.  Same with the natural gas pipeline.  And the wind farms would help them be able to have an excess.  But any energy going through or otherwise coming from New Hampshire would be for us first.  It's only fair.  We use energy, too, and we should make as much of our own as is practical.

 

This is just an idea, but I hope it's one that will stimulate a little debate.

Michael Harrington
- Strafford
Proposal for a bill regarding energy created in, and passing thr

Richard, let me start by saying that everyone has a right to thier own opinion but ( there is always a but) you obviously do not understand the NH and New England Energy markets. These markets are very complicated and even though I spent 9 years working on them ( As a NH PUC Commissioner, Senior Energy Policy Advisor to  the PUC and the NH Manager for the New England States Committee on Electricity) I don't understand all of it

The key thing you are missing is that there is no NH market. The markets are regional, i.e New England. ISO-NE runs the New England electric markets and the price wholesale price for electricity is set there. These wholesale markets are regulated by FERC and therefor the law you proposed would be preempted by FERC rules and could not be enforced. FERC also  regulates the wholesale natural gas markets.

Simply solutions to complicated issues usually don't work

 

Richard Clogston
- Warren
Proposal for a bill

You're right, I don't understand it. Let me state up front that I am not a zealot who's already decided on the issue. I'm a consumer, trying to understand why something seemingly obvious isn't.

If I'm gathering what you're saying, the energy we use and/or create is collected centrally, and distributed from that central location, wherever it may be. This is puzzling to someone who is used to a process that goes 1) I own land with trees on it, 2) I cut down one of my trees and cut it up and take it to my shed, 3) I throw wood into my wood stove. When I'm driving through Rumney and see those windmills creating energy, I can't figure out how it's easier/cheaper/more efficient for that power to be transmitted to Point B before it, mixed with a bunch or other energy, comes back to my computer. It's not oil, or water, it's electricity.

It does explain, however, why a NH bill relating to the NH market can't be, and thank you for that. What are your thoughts on de-centralizing energy distribution?

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