Library filed under Energy Policy from New Hampshire
Rep. Fred King, a Colebrook Republican and a member of the county planning board, which oversees land use in the unincorporated areas, said the county delegation and commissioners have endorsed the wind project. But, he said, he has made it his "mission in life" to see the transmission line upgraded so biomass plants, which would create more long-term jobs and sustain the region's history of logging, can be built, too. "It's safe to say, if we did get to vote on it and we had the two to pick from (biomass and wind), my guess is we'd probably vote for the biomass plant," he said.
Boisvert said future projects only will result in more spending as the utility carries out needed improvements. She also said one of the most expensive projects on the horizon could be the proposed Coos County Loop. She said this project requires the transmission lines in Coos County to be upgraded so new biomass, wind and solar power generated there can be transported to Southern New Hampshire and other states as needed. Boisvert said PSNH has to carry out that project to meet the state's Renewable Portfolio Standards approved by state lawmakers. ... It has yet to be determined if the costs will be borne by PSNH ratepayers, New Hampshire state taxpayers or shouldered by customers of member utility companies that make up ISO-New England throughout the Northeast. "There's no definitive answer," Boisvert said.
Memo from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Chairman, Paul Hibbard, to the ISO New England. Chairman Hibbard expresses his concerns over the push to regionalize costs for building expensive transmission lines to service renewable projects (wind) built far from load centers. Current FERC rules are unclear on how to justify distribution of the costs across all ratepayers within the region unless it can be shown such transmission is needed to ensure the reliability and integrity of the grid.
The [New England] region's power system has had a long history of dependability, but electricity costs have been an issue for businesses and residents for decades. As the region plans ahead, New England's policymakers face a series of decisions that will have an abiding impact on our energy future. ...Economic, reliability and environmental goals are not always perfectly aligned when it comes to electricity generation and transmission. Whatever path policymakers choose to take will require trade-offs. How New England officials balance these sometimes conflicting goals will demonstrate our priorities, impact the regional economy and determine which objectives we can realistically achieve.
This extended news piece addresses efforts to bring renewable generation to northern New England.
State and regional regulators acknowledge the hurdles - especially in northern New Hampshire - but don't have ready solutions. A bill before the New Hampshire Senate would have the state be ready to act if no regional solution is forthcoming. ISO New England, which manages power for the region, is considering changing rules so more of the costs of transmission upgrades could be shared regionally. But as things stand now, backers of projects generally must pay for upgrades needed to connect them to the system. "None of this is a real speedy process," acknowledges Michael Harrington, senior regional policy adviser for the state Public Utilities Commission.
Hopes for a renewable energy park to be developed appear to be dashed, at least for now. The partnership hoping to open the park, which had three options on land in town including a 50-acre parcel owned by the school district, has pulled the plug on those options this week. The reason, Levine said, is the transmission lines in the North Country are not able to accept the level of power that would be generated from the venture, which had already been given the name Groveton Renewable Energy Park. Levine said the project is in line behind two wind generation projects in the approval process as well as for connecting to the power grid transmission system in the region.
Aternative energy, much-talked about on local, county, state and national levels in recent years, has become an issue in the Souhegan Valley in recent months, with different communities taking vastly different roads on the issue. Amherst, which actively opposed wind turbines last year, has changed its tune and now is proposing a zoning ordinance allowing some, if not all, alternative energy systems. Milford planners are considering regulatory measures regarding wind power, while in Hollis, building and planning officials have embraced the idea. Brookline officials have not had to deal with wind towers.
A way to open up the state's logjam in building renewable energy projects could come out of a proposed 10-state regional greenhouse initiative. According to the Public Utilities Commission, the North Country needs a power line upgrade in the $200-million range to help developers build hundreds of megawatts of future wind farms and biomass electricity plants. Those could meet most of the state's goal of producing 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Until they win approval or drop out, those projects at the head of the line are blocking plans for a 600-megawatt gas-fired plant somewhere in Rockingham County. The would-be developer is unidentified on the Web site of the ISO-New England electric grid. The federal approval process accepts applicants on a first-come, first served basis.
A newly released state Public Utilties Commission report says that, under current federal regulations, New Hampshire can expect no fiscal help from the rest of New England to upgrade power lines in Coos County. The power lines would required to fulfill the supply created by several proposed renewable energy power plants in the region. According to the report, it would take a change in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rules to make Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and the rest of the ISO-New England power grid share the cost to beef up the closed transmission loop that runs through Littleton, Berlin and Whitefield. Any change in policy at that level would take years to effect, if it is even possible
George Gantz, a Unitil vice president, unveiled some company dreams this past week to reinvent the big regulated utility. He told Rep. Naida Kaen, D-Lee, and other stakeholders for "distributed energy" that Unitil would like to work itself out of business as a traditional energy retailer. Distributed energy, a new buzz word, is made by small generators scattered across the electric grid, often remote from the big power plants. ...Under existing law, that would be like McDonald's buying burgers from its patrons. But everybody would win if Unitil could claim the renewable energy credits a business or homeowner can earn under a new state law also sponsored by Fuller Clark. It rewards sustainable energy sources.
While paper mills close and Cabletron spins off its remnants out of state, power plants from the Seacoast to Whitefield enjoy the perks of a poorly understood, $100-million subsidy program just for energy producers. It has a bureaucratic name: the forward capacity market. ...An unidentified 600-megawatt, gas-fired power plant project somewhere in Rockingham County is blocked behind half a dozen North Country renewable energy projects in the ISO-New England regulatory queue. The waiting list policy is first-come, first-served. A plant like that would typically pay its host community $4 million or more in property taxes, with few smokestack emissions. But those wind- and wood-fired projects at the front of the line are all in limbo. The Public Service power lines in the region are too small. Most of the players can't even bid into the upcoming ISO auction, because yet-to-be-built plants have to ante millions of dollars as a sort of performance bond. And the ISO doesn't make forward capacity payments for transmission line upgrades.
Several new North Country energy projects are in the works, but questions remain on how to transmit to homes and businesses the power they would generate. Experts at an ad hoc energy stakeholders meeting held Oct. 16 at the State House in Concord generally agreed that construction on several proposed wind farms and wood-fired power plants in Coos County will take three to four years - and perhaps longer if New Hampshire hopes to convince other New England states to cover 90 percent of the costs. ...Donna Gamache of PSNH said the hard part is guessing which players are serious and have the stamina to wait out the regulatory approval process. She said what she called "the California model" would may be "the easiest way to absorb the risk." In California, a regional electric grid underwrote the cost to transmit new solar and geothermal power to the populated coast in the hopes that future developers would pay their share as they hooked into the lines. If PSNH tackles a project like that without state help, experts fear ratepayers would eat the stranded costs if too few plants came on line.
The lack of necessary infrastructure means that Coos County won't see ground-breaking anytime soon on hundreds of megawatts generated by proposed wind farms and wood-fired power plants. According to Public Service of New Hampshire officials, the utility's big loop of transmission lines from Littleton to Berlin and back can handle only 100 megawatts more of production before somebody has to pay big bucks to boost the capacity. Nobody knows who will fund that infrastructure, and the uncertainty has thrown off the financing for some of the dozen New Hampshire power plants lined up for future review by the state Public Utilities Commission.
Legislators in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic passed a number of bills applying to the electric power industry, with several states committing to emissions reductions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other states making broad organizational changes to their regulatory processes.
A bill that originally would have allowed Public Service of New Hampshire to build a wood-burning plant in the North Country has morphed into fast-track legislation for all small renewable energy projects. Now a House committee is grappling on how fast that process should move and whether environmental safeguards will remain in place. Senate Bill 140 would give the Site Evaluation Committee - the multi-agency task force that sites energy plants - 120 days to make a decision on renewable energy plants, such as those that are powered by geothermal sources, wind, solar, and biomass.
CONCORD (AP) - Gov. John Lynch has signed the proposal that promotes expanding renewable energy in New Hampshire, a move that's expected to reduce pollution and expand the alternative energy industry. The legislation requires electric utilities to buy a growing percentage of their energy from sources such as wood-fired plants, wind farms and hydro power. The goal is to have 25 percent of the state's electricity coming from renewable sources by 2025. As he signed the bill on Friday, Lynch said the plan will help lessen the need for foreign oil and expensive natural gas, build a stronger state economy and protect the environment.
New Hampshire's Senate has voted unanimously to pass a bill to promote greater development of renewable energy, a move that's expected to reduce pollution and grow the alternative energy industry in the state. The legislation requires electric utilities to buy a growing percentage of their energy from sources such as wood-fired plants, wind farms and hydro power. The goal is to have 25 percent of the state's electricity coming from renewable sources by 2025. The bill passed the House and has Gov. John Lynch's support. The legislation is expected to encourage investment in alternative energy in New Hampshire, which supporters say could shore up the logging industry, create new jobs and improve the state's environmental quality.
The New Hampshire House's passage of a renewable energy bill April 5 might spur even more wood-fired power plant projects, such as Public Service of New Hampshire's 50-megawatt facility at Schiller Station in Portsmouth and several projects recently proposed in the North Country. One of those North Country projects involves Laidlaw Ecopower, which hopes to buy the mothballed 11-story boiler in the former Fraser Papers mill in Berlin and construct a 50-megawatt wood-chip-burning power plant around it. The other, proposed by North Country Renewable Energy, involves plans for a similar renewable energy park in Northumberland that would make ethanol from wood chips and operate a biomass power plant in the 45- to 75-megawatt range.
The New Hampshire House yesterday easily passed a requirement that New Hampshire power companies use more renewable resources in their electric generating plants. By a 253-37 vote, it adopted House Bill 873. The bill requires the state to get nearly 25 percent of its energy by the year 2025 from renewables, like wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal and wood-fired sources.