Article

N.H. Alternative Energy Plants To Get Boost From Pending Bill

BETHLEHEM, NH - Alternative energy facilities, such as the Pinetree Power plant that operates on Route 116, and has for the past 20 years, are watching House Bill 873 closely this legislative session. The bill will require power companies that sell directly to consumers to purchase power from renewable energy producers such as Pinetree, which turns wood chips into power, thereby stabilizing their future in the energy marketplace in New Hampshire, said Mark Driscoll, the Pinetree plant manager. The bill will also encourage other renewable energy producers such as those planning an energy park in the town of Northumberland, to move forward with their plans, said state legislators who are sponsoring the bill in Concord. And the bill promises to improve the environment and public health at the same time by encouraging more "green" power sources and making sure producers install the latest emissions controls.

BETHLEHEM, NH - Alternative energy facilities, such as the Pinetree Power plant that operates on Route 116, and has for the past 20 years, are watching House Bill 873 closely this legislative session.

The bill will require power companies that sell directly to consumers to purchase power from renewable energy producers such as Pinetree, which turns wood chips into power, thereby stabilizing their future in the energy marketplace in New Hampshire, said Mark Driscoll, the Pinetree plant manager.

The bill will also encourage other renewable energy producers such as those planning an energy park in the town of Northumberland, to move forward with their plans, said state legislators who are sponsoring the bill in Concord.

And the bill promises to improve the environment and public health at the same time by encouraging more "green" power sources and making sure producers install the latest emissions controls.

On Tuesday, the House Science, Energy and Technology Committee approved the bill in a 14-1 vote, and it will now go before the full House for a hearing.

Pinetree had locked 20-year contracts with Public Service of New Hampshire, but that contract expired in December.

Pinetree signed... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

BETHLEHEM, NH - Alternative energy facilities, such as the Pinetree Power plant that operates on Route 116, and has for the past 20 years, are watching House Bill 873 closely this legislative session.

The bill will require power companies that sell directly to consumers to purchase power from renewable energy producers such as Pinetree, which turns wood chips into power, thereby stabilizing their future in the energy marketplace in New Hampshire, said Mark Driscoll, the Pinetree plant manager.

The bill will also encourage other renewable energy producers such as those planning an energy park in the town of Northumberland, to move forward with their plans, said state legislators who are sponsoring the bill in Concord.

And the bill promises to improve the environment and public health at the same time by encouraging more "green" power sources and making sure producers install the latest emissions controls.

On Tuesday, the House Science, Energy and Technology Committee approved the bill in a 14-1 vote, and it will now go before the full House for a hearing.

Pinetree had locked 20-year contracts with Public Service of New Hampshire, but that contract expired in December.

Pinetree signed a one-year contract with PSNH in December, but the future of its renewable power sales needs stability in order for the plant to be economically viable.

There are four other independently owned wood-to-energy plants in New Hampshire - in Whitefield, Tamworth, Bridgewater and Springfield.

Gov. John Lynch last August set a goal for the state of having 25 percent of the state's energy come from clean and renewable sources by the year 2025. It is known as the 25/25 plan.

At the time, Lynch said, "Increasing renewable energy would take advantage of New Hampshire's ample wood supply, and encourage the responsible harvesting of lesser-grade woods which will help preserve our forests from development."

House Bill 873 would both guarantee markets for renewable source energy producers, such as the five wood-to-energy plants across the state, and it would also offer the public a boon - stricter emissions controls will be required of the plants, and upgrades in the millions of dollars will be made once the bill is passed.

Plant operators such as Pinetree, managed by Driscoll, will take steps to improve the emissions standards as soon as they know their market is secure going into the future, Driscoll said Wednesday.

Pinetree, for example, plans between $4 million and $6 million in improvements to its emission control systems, and will begin those improvements shortly after the House bill passes, which is the outcome they are hoping for.

"If passed, this bill will ensure that plants like Bridgewater Power and other existing, independently owned wood-to-energy plants will remain part of New Hampshire's energy mix," said Mike O'Leary of Bridgewater Power which operates a 15 megawatt facility.

"For the past 20 years, we have played an important part in the state's energy outlook. This bill will give us the security we need to continue production ... without it, our future is uncertain," he said.

The bill will require electric companies to include a minimum percentage of renewable, low emission power in the electricity they sell to consumers. The bill has been studied in work sessions by the state Science, Technology and Energy Committee in recent months.

New Hampshire is the only state in New England that does not have any form of legislation relating to a renewable portfolio standard.

In testifying before the committee recently, Lynch said wood-to-energy plants are important to the state's energy future.

Just such a plant is now being proposed for the town of Northumberland, where North Country Renewable Energy is proposing building a plant there that would burn wood chips to create power.

The School District of Northumberland on Tuesday night approved selling nearly 47 acres to the energy company to build its plant on, and company officials said they hope to be running a plant there by the year 2009.

"We believe that the benefits of increasing New Hampshire's renewable energy generation include economic development, fuel diversity, energy price stability, and clean energy," said North Country Renewable Energy, in recently testifying about the pending legislation. "A Renewable Portfolio Standards helps us to recognize that electricity generated from renewable sources has added benefits to society over more traditional fossil fuel-based electricity generation that simply provides electricity."

North Country Renewable Energy said power generated from renewable sources "means more investment capital and jobs for New Hampshire, fuel independence, less volatile and more predictable energy prices and environmental and public health benefits."

The company is a joint partnership between Tamarack Energy and XGenesys Development Corporation. The partnership is proposing a renewable energy park in Groveton that would see both a wood-fired power production facility and a biofuel production plant.

The plant is expected to produce between 45 and 75 megawatts of electricity to be sold on the ISO New England electricity grid, providing power to 40,000 to 70,000 households. The biofuel would be marketed to the fuel industry.

The Groveton plant in Northumberland is expected to cost more than $200 million and create 300 to 350 construction jobs and 150 to 250 "direct permanent jobs" as well as hundreds of secondary jobs for foresters, loggers and truckers.

House Bill 873 "will directly support the development of our proposed Groveton Renewable Energy Park as well as other projects which are currently under consideration," said Joshua H. Levine, a spokesman for North Country Renewable Energy, who presented the firm's testimony to the legislative committee.

Now, the state sees some 14 percent of its total electricity generation come from renewable energy resources, including hydroelectric, biomass and landfill gas power plants with a combined generation, according to the state, of 576 megawatts.

The state bill says the legislation would have "the potential to lower and stabilize future energy costs by reducing exposure to rising and volatile fossil fuel prices.

In addition, employing low emission forms of such technologies can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions transported into New Hampshire and also generated in the state, thereby improving air quality, public health and mitigating against the risks of climate change."

The state's Business and Industry Association and the New Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, supports the development, it says, "of renewable energy sources in New Hampshire as a way to reduce energy cost and consumption.

This session, the New Hampshire Legislature is considering implementing a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for the state.

An RPS aims to reduce dependence on imported energy sources; reduce the risk and volatility of energy costs; reduce air pollution, particularly greenhouse gas emissions; and foster new economic development opportunities," the association said.

In sponsoring the bill, Rep. Harvey said, "This is one of, if not the most important bill this committee will hear this session."

Sen. Fuller Clark said the bill is "good for economic development and the environment in the North Country, the state and the entire region."

The bill also has the support of New Hampshire's Department of Resources and Economic Development.

In a letter to the committee, Commissioner George Bald said the legislation would help to bolster the forest and timber industries.

"Our forests provide a backdrop for our ever-important tourism industry," he said. "Loggers, truckers, landowners and sawmills are facing times of great uncertainty about their future. These markets need to be replaced and sustained for the long term, and promoting wood energy provides an ideal opportunity to do so."



Source: http://www.caledonianrecord...

MAR 22 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/7933-n-h-alternative-energy-plants-to-get-boost-from-pending-bill
back to top