Articles filed under Energy Policy from New Hampshire
Hydro Quebec, NStar and Northeast Utilities are working on the Northern Pass project with the Patrick administration's support. Project organizers say the new line could provide another 1,200 megawatts of hydro electricity, enough to power nearly a million houses. The project is still in early engineering and study phases, with the goal of wrapping up in 2015, the Northern Pass website says.
Detractors argue the technology is unproven and say the money and manpower would be better spent on weatherizing homes and funding other forms of alternative energy such as tidal power. Less than 2 percent of electricity in Maine and New Hampshire is currently derived from wind farms.
"We warned everybody two years ago that this is a big pot of money that is ripe for the plucking, and that's exactly what happened," said David Juvet, the organization's vice president. Indeed, the raid happened without any real debate at all. In fact, the only other RGGI-related proposal - backed by Republicans - was to take even more money from the fund.
National Grid says it might pull its natural gas and electricity business out of New Hampshire because regulators have rejected its plan for new rates, although it has not made any formal notification for such a move. The British-based company provides electricity and natural gas in scattered locations around the state.
Under the net metering law, the consumer who generates his or her electricity can essentially run the meter backwards. Thus, during peak hours, the consumer not only saves electricity, but can actually sell it back to the utility. ...The current law limits the size of generators to 100 kilowatts. The new law allows one-megawatt generators.
Maine shouldn't expect lower-cost, Canadian hydroelectricity to flow through the state via new transmission lines in the near future, a top Hydro-Quebec executive said here Thursday. One of the world's largest producers of hydro power, Hydro-Quebec plans to concentrate first on expanding its exports to New England with a line through New Hampshire, according to Christian Brosseau, president of subsidiary HQ Energy Services US.
The federal Energy Department last week reported that wind power could take the place of coal and natural gas for as much as 30 percent of the electricity generation in the eastern two-thirds of the country. There is just one problem: the cost would be huge and the supposed environmental benefit (reduced carbon emissions) small.
Last week, the New England Governors' Conference raised green fantasy to new heights with the release of its Renewable Energy Blueprint, which said the region "has a significant quantity of untapped renewable resources, on the order of over 10,000 MW combined of on-shore and off-shore wind power potential." Neither the report nor the news articles about it bothered to do the math. At 7 MW, New England would need 1,429 E-126s to tap that potential. Though the turbines likely would be clustered in "farms," that's an average of 238 per state, or more than one for each town in Connecticut. The cost would be $221 billion that the states don't have, though they might get a bulk-purchase discount of a billion or two.
Granite Reliable Power LLC, the company that plans to build a 33-turbine wind farm in Coos County, asked the state last week to deny two motions for a rehearing. The motions were frilled Aug. 14 by the state attorney general's office, which serves as counsel for the public, and the Industrial Wind Action Group, which opposes the project. In his motion, Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Roth argued for a rehearing, stating that GRP does not have the financial capability to carry out the project and there is no "assurance the project will be constructed and operated in continuing compliance with the certificate."
The state renewable energy law that made it feasible for controversial new "wind parks'' will also cost New Hampshire consumers in higher electricity bills. They may pay $2 billion by the year 2025 under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) -- an extra $5 a month, a University of New Hampshire study concludes. But these are just estimates. The state's consumer advocate and utility companies say there really is no way at this point to figure the actual cost.
Utilities get credits for "green" power they produce, or they can buy the credits from companies that create power from "renewable" sources. If they do neither, they have to pay a fine to the state. Proceeds from the fines subsidize energy conservation projects. Sounds great. But like "cash for clunkers," there are problems. For example, the program already raised electric utility rates by $10.7 million earlier this year. Green power is more expensive. And then there are the windmills.
The state has signed a $4 million contract with ConEdison Solutions of Burlington, Mass,. to supply it with wind-generated power through May 2010. The contract was signed after a bidding process that involved traditional and renewable energy suppliers, according to Gov. John Lynch's office. Lynch in a statement said the contract helps the state move toward its eventual "25/25" goal "" that renewable energy sources provide 25 percent of all power consumed in New Hampshire by 2025.
Once upon a time, the primary questions to ask about upgrading the electrical transmission line in Coos County were how much it would cost and who would pay for it. After all, without such a line, projects for power generation from renewable resources like wind and wood, seen as key contributors to economic development in the hard-hit region, would come to a standstill. But lately, other questions have been raised: How much of an upgrade will be needed? And will it be needed at all?
The Coos County commissioners voted last month to slash $48,000 from the Coos Economic Development Corp.'s $109,000 budget because the CEDC didn't advocate that an upgrade of the electric transmission lines that connect to the New England electric grid be included in a regional stimulus wish list. ...County Commissioner Paul Grenier of Berlin blasted CEDC leadership for failing to promote an issue that he said is vital to the region. He equated the stand to a "crime against the residents of Coos County."
While we all want a future that includes renewable energy sources, such as wood, wind and solar, we continue to face many challenges. Capital for many of these projects has been reduced or eliminated as a result of our deepening economic problems, and time lines for siting and permitting renewable energy projects can take up to seven years. This should not be an excuse to stop the charge to create new renewable energy, but it should cause alarm for decision makers considering policies that undermine the effort to clean up our existing power plants -- or worse, shut them down.
To be kind, efforts at the federal level to promote alternative energy have been less than stellar. So what is it that makes Sen. Shaheen so optimistic? It may be that her call for energy diversity and green power is being reflected in speeches by New Hampshire's governor, John Lynch, and President-elect Barack Obama. But the simple fact that all three are reading from the same playbook assures nothing. Nothing that is except higher energy prices, at least for the foreseeable future.
Gov. John Lynch signed into law House Bill 310, which sets maximum restrictions on what a community can do when someone proposes to erect a wind tower to generate electricity. ...The new law, explained Murphy, is different from other state land-use regulations "which allow towns to enact restrictions greater than those the state imposes; this one was framed in such a way to be the most restrictive. I believe the intent was so that towns, for whatever reason, could not totally outlaw wind tower use within their boundaries."
Public Service Company of New Hampshire has filed for almost a 10 percent hike in electric rates for next year. ...Part of the increase has to do with both the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, designed to curb carbon emissions, and the Renewable Portfolio Standards, set up to move the state toward getting 25 percent of its power from renewables by 2025. Murray estimated that amount 20-30 percent of the increase can be attributed to those two programs, but indicated those costs haven't been completely determined yet. "In terms of RGGI, this is all quite new to us," he said.
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.