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Energy challenges lie ahead for New Hampshire

DOVER — New Hampshire has work to do if it wants to secure its energy future.

That was the consensus, during a panel discussion at Cochecho Country Club Friday morning, as experts gathered to talk about energy.

“If you're a business, at least from an energy generator business (standpoint), it's not a low-tax environment,” said Ed Cherian, New England development director for Iberdrola Renewables, a firm that manufactures wind turbines. “It's a high-tax environment, and it's an extremely difficult state to do business in. We work in 17 states, including the ones people think are very hard to work with — New York, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Vermont. Each of those states are not only less expensive, but less bureaucratic, from our perspective, than New Hampshire at this point.”

Several of the panelists at the conference, which was hosted by the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce, commented on how difficult the energy industry is in the Granite State.

“We won this innovation challenge in New Hampshire,” said Clay Mitchell, policy director for New Hampshire Sustainable Energy. “We did this pitch of 10 slides in 13 minutes, and the first thing all three experts... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

DOVER — New Hampshire has work to do if it wants to secure its energy future.

That was the consensus, during a panel discussion at Cochecho Country Club Friday morning, as experts gathered to talk about energy.

“If you're a business, at least from an energy generator business (standpoint), it's not a low-tax environment,” said Ed Cherian, New England development director for Iberdrola Renewables, a firm that manufactures wind turbines. “It's a high-tax environment, and it's an extremely difficult state to do business in. We work in 17 states, including the ones people think are very hard to work with — New York, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Vermont. Each of those states are not only less expensive, but less bureaucratic, from our perspective, than New Hampshire at this point.”

Several of the panelists at the conference, which was hosted by the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce, commented on how difficult the energy industry is in the Granite State.

“We won this innovation challenge in New Hampshire,” said Clay Mitchell, policy director for New Hampshire Sustainable Energy. “We did this pitch of 10 slides in 13 minutes, and the first thing all three experts said was, 'Get out of New Hampshire.' This was in New Hampshire at a forum for business innovation, and they all said to get out of New Hampshire because the politics are so unstable.” 

Cherian said it's hard for a business that specializes in renewable energy to commit to long-term projects when the laws keep changing.

“There's a lot of instability and uncertainty, both legislatively and regulatory-wise,” he said. “It's hard to make a 25-, 30-, 40-year investment if the rules are constantly changing or being reinterpreted on the fly.”

With electricity rates expected to rise dramatically this winter, area businesses have been on edge.

“We have so much advanced manufacturing and composites here, and they're getting hammered by electric rates,” said Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, who was in attendance. “We lost a potential manufacturer who considered moving into the area. I think the question for the legislature is, how are we going to be able to, in the short term, increase energy supplies (...) given the likelihood of local resistance? It's not a new debate, but I think there is a real urgency in the legislature. I think (energy is) one of the top one or two issues. That was not true a couple of years ago.” 

The Northern Pass, a proposed $1.4 billion transmission infrastructure project in northern New Hampshire, was briefly discussed as one of several ways to add megawatts to the state's power needs.

“We're hearing very loud and clear from businesses that these (electricity) price pressures are unsustainable,” said William Quinlan, president and chief operating officer for Public Service of New Hampshire. “We're starting to hear universally the need for projects like Northern Pass (...) that will undoubtedly lower and stabilize energy prices.”

Diversifying the state's energy resources was also discussed as a need. Natural gas has risen from producing 15 percent of New Hampshire's electricity in 2000, to now producing 46 percent.

On Friday, 62 percent of New England's energy fuel mix was comprised of natural gas and nuclear power, according to ISO New England's iPhone app.

“I think the question is, how dependent do you want to be on natural gas?” Quinlan asked. “How comfortable are we being 70 or 80 percent dependent (on natural gas for electricity)? History has shown that if you don't have diversity of supply, you can have challenges if there are disruptions.” 

Natural gas is also used by many homes for heat in winter. Using gas for both home heat and producing electricity can strain the supply, said keynote speaker Michael Giaimo, senior external affairs representative for ISO New England Inc.

“The electricity crisis we see in the winter time is largely a function of natural gas supply constraints,” said Giaimo. “There's a tremendous push to convert people from oil heat to natural gas. As you increase the demand for natural gas, you exacerbate the challenge.”

Lowering consumption through energy-efficient homes and businesses was also eyed as a way of easing usage.

Convincing homeowners won't be easy, said speaker Sam Evans-Brown, environment and education reporter for New Hampshire Public Radio.

“The problem is the up-front cost and how you realize the benefit of up-front costs,” he said. “It's a little bit of psychology. What do you want to invest in to make your home better? Folks want granite counter tops, and they're not thinking about air sealing or attic insulation. There needs to be a cultural shift. I tend to believe that that cultural shift will start to occur when some creative financing model appear that will allow someone with capital to realize the benefits of investing in efficiency.” 

Wind, solar and hydro power were also discussed. 


Source: http://www.fosters.com/apps...

NOV 22 2014
http://www.windaction.org/posts/41702-energy-challenges-lie-ahead-for-new-hampshire
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