Annie Ropeik

Reporter: Energy, Environment, Development

Annie Ropeik joined NHPR’s reporting team in 2017, following stints with public radio stations and collaborations across the country. She has reported everywhere from fishing boats, island villages and cargo terminals in Alaska, to cornfields, factories and Superfund sites in the Midwest.

Her work has appeared on NPR, the BBC and CNN, and earned recognition from PRNDI, the Delaware and Alaska Press Clubs and the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists.

Originally from Silver Spring, MD, Annie caught the public media bug during internships at NPR in Washington and WBUR in Boston. She studied classics at Boston University and enjoys a good PDF, the rule of threes and meeting other people’s dogs.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

A New England tradition is freezing over Concord’s White Park this weekend – the eighth annual Black Ice Pond Hockey Championships. While the players were busy on the ice Friday morning, NHPR's Annie Ropeik talked to some of the fans who came to watch the first games.

Michael Kappel via Flickr CC

With the Northern Pass transmission line on the rocks, regulators in Massachusetts are facing a big decision. They had planned to give that project a long term contract, but now might have to pick a different option.

Some are hoping it'll be another New Hampshire project, a transmission line proposal from National Grid called the Granite State Power Link. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with NHPR's energy reporter Annie Ropeik about that project and its prospects.


col&tasha, Flickr

Massachusetts is expected to decide by Friday if it can move forward on a deal with Northern Pass.

Since Eversource was denied a permit by the state of New Hampshire, other developers – large and small – have been eager to step up.

Massachusetts wants to sign a contract or contracts for 1,200 megawatts of renewable power by late 2020.

John K via Flickr CC

The town of Colebrook is the first to get money from a state trust fund for water infrastructure upgrades.

It comes from New Hampshire’s $236 million settlement with Exxon Mobil in 2015, over contamination from a gasoline additive known as MtBE.

Marine insight

Governor Chris Sununu says it looks unlikely new offshore drilling would affect New Hampshire, but regional fishery managers are still worried.

The U.S. Department of the Interior says it wants to open most of the nation's coastline to new oil and gas leases. Sununu opposes drilling off New Hampshire's Seacoast, and says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke assured him the North Atlantic won't be high priority.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Advocates for more local control in New Hampshire are trying again to amend the state constitution, this time to let municipalities pass laws protecting people's health and the environment.

A dozen New Hampshire towns already have ordinances geared toward ensuring locals’ health, safety and welfare, sparked by big energy developments or water quality concerns.

But Granite State municipalities technically can’t enact any laws the state doesn’t allow them to. So supporters say those ordinances wouldn't hold up in court – which is why they need a constitutional amendment.

NHPR Photo

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers wants Gov. Chris Sununu to support another big New Hampshire-based power line, now that the future of the Northern Pass project is in doubt.

The controversial transmission line proposal from Eversource is supposed to get a big contract with Massachusetts to help meet the state's renewable energy goals. But New Hampshire regulators denied Northern Pass its final permit last week. Now, Bay State officials are weighing whether to pick a different option.

Some New Hampshire legislators hope that option will be National Grid’s Granite State Power Link, a competitor to Northern Pass that’s still in the early stages of development. 

Google maps

New Hampshire has put the brakes on the Northern Pass energy project for now, but some towns are still prepared to block it with local laws asserting their view on big utility development.

Plymouth is the latest municipality to approve an ordinance saying certain energy projects, while allowed under state law, are harmful to local health and environment.

When such laws are enforced, developers either have to go elsewhere, or sue to build in town.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

Patriots fans will be rooting against the Eagles in the big game this weekend. But they might have missed another Superbowl last weekend that was all about the birds.

In the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s annual Superbowl of Birding, dozens of birdwatchers flock to the Seacoast and the Bay State’s Essex County for a 12-hour birding blitz. 


Associated Press

The case of three women cited in 2016 for going topless on a beach in Laconia went before the New Hampshire Supreme Court this week.

The women of the Free the Nipple movement want the court to overturn Laconia's indecent exposure law. It specifically bars women from baring their breasts in public without their nipples covered.

Attorney Dan Hynes, also a state representative from Manchester, told the justices that the ordinance is discriminatory. He compared it to a hypothetical law barring gay people from the beach.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee has voted unanimously to deny a permit to Eversource's controversial Northern Pass project.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state Site Evaluation Committee waded deeper into questions of Northern Pass's impact on the North Country on Wednesday.

Fewer protesters and even fewer supporters were there to listen than on the first day, as members continued their final deliberations on permitting the transmission line.

In discussions of how Northern Pass will affect land-use plans along its route, members seemed to grow more conflicted about how to define the tipping point where the project might become too impactful.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

UPDATE:  New Hampshire regulators began final discussions Tuesday on whether to grant a permit to the Northern Pass transmission line. 

State officials and public representatives at the Site Evaluation Committee in Concord will meet 12 times between now and Feb. 23.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Massachusetts opted last week for one large power line to cover a big chunk of its energy needs for the next 20-plus years.

The Northern Pass proposal beat out other big transmission projects and dozens of smaller options for the right to supply all renewable power the Commonwealth wants.

As NHPR's Annie Ropeik reports, this has analysts and developers wondering what role smaller projects will play in the future of the grid.

Courtesy

 

A group of New Hampshire women will compete in a Superbowl of their own Saturday -- the Audubon Society's annual Superbowl of Birding. 

 

The group is called the Twitchers in the Rye, after the women's hometown. They'll spend 12 hours scouring local woods, backyards and coastline for as many species of winter fowl as they can find. Twitcher captain Becky Suomala says rarer species earn more points.

 

NHPR File Photo

Eversource’s Northern Pass transmission line is the sole project picked for long-term energy contract negotiations with Massachusetts.

Officials made the announcement Thursday afternoon, less than a week before New Hampshire begins its final permitting deliberations on the controversial project.

Northern Pass would carry 1,090 megawatts of power from Hydro Quebec dams to the New England grid, over a partly-buried 192-mile power line. It would run under New Hampshire’s White Mountains and mainly follow existing transmission lines, ending in Deerfield.

Thomas Gehrke / Flickr Creative Commons

Energy developers are set to learn Thursday which of their projects will get long-term contracts to provide 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy to Massachusetts.

Several projects in New Hampshire are in the running.

Developers sent in more than 40 proposals to bring hydro, solar and wind power to Massachusetts, primarily from Northern New England and Canada.

Julian- / Flickr Creative Commons

Some New Hampshire business owners say the Trump administration's new tax on imported solar panels will slow the growth of residential solar use in the Granite State.

The tariff starts at 30 percent and drops 5 percent in each of the next three years. It's not as severe as Trump could have imposed, and it’s meant to boost the American solar manufacturing industry.

New Boston Fire Chief Dan MacDonald

The freeze-thaw weather cycle of recent weeks is fueling ice jams in rivers across New Hampshire – including in New Boston, where a huge, persistent blockage could cause flooding this spring.

The jam on the Piscataquog River is more than 3,000 feet long – the length of 10 football fields.

New Boston Fire Chief Dan MacDonald says it's made of foot-thick icebergs that have melted and cracked, then frozen back up into a single solid glacier.

BOEM

Hearings on plans to open New England and most of the nation's coastline to offshore drilling have been postponed due to the government shutdown.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was set to talk about the proposal in Concord on Tuesday. It’s rescheduling that meeting and others this week in Maine, Boston, and Providence, while some of its funding is suspended and employees are furloughed.

Hearings in the drilling hubs of Louisiana and Alaska are also postponed this week. A hearing in Hartford, Connecticut, is still set for February.

Via apartments.com

A Rhode Island man is suing one of New Hampshire’s biggest property developers for $60 million, alleging unchecked mold in his former Brady Sullivan apartment gave him an incurable lung disease.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state commission on the Seacoast’s high cancer rates signaled Friday it would push for cleanup at Coakley Landfill, despite objections from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The legislators and public representatives who make up the Cancer Cluster Investigation Commission have a report due this fall on what's driving those cancer rates, and they’ve honed in on the EPA’s Coakley Landfill Superfund site as a likely culprit.

Representative Charles McMahon, a Republican from Windham, chairs the commission.  

Andy Schafermeyer / N.H. Fish and Game

Residents can fish without a license for one day only Saturday as part of a twice-yearly state program.

The Fish and Game Department holds another free fishing day the first Saturday in June, but this is only the second time they've done one in the winter.

Inland fisheries chief Jason Smith says recent weather might make open water levels too high to fish in some places – which means this year is all about ice fishing.

Michael Kappel / Flickr CC

A new report says New England could see rolling power blackouts within a matter of years without more stable fuel supplies.

ISO-New England is an independent nonprofit that manages the six-state power grid. The group studied how fuel supply and demand might play out in those states in the hypothetical winter of 2024 to 2025.

Read the report here.

NHPR File Photo

As Massachusetts prepares to announce where it will buy 1,200 megawatts of new renewable power, the 46 projects in the running – including many with a big footprint in New Hampshire – are hoping for the best.

Among the smaller-scale wind, hydro and solar installations that are vying for a Massachusetts contract are big transmission lines to carry Canadian hydro- and wind power.

Those include Eversource’s Northern Pass, and two National Grid plans to use mostly existing power lines in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Sam Evans-Brown /NHPR

New Hampshire's Site Evaluation Committee starts deliberating the fate of Northern Pass in less than two weeks. But whatever decision it makes likely won't be black and white.

In final briefs filed last week, 16 of the 19 stakeholder groups that intervened in the Northern Pass case asked the SEC to reject the project.

 

National Grid Map

Developers behind a transmission line that's competing with Northern Pass to supply renewable energy to Massachusetts will hold a listening session in Concord on Thursday.

National Grid's Granite State Power Link would carry 1,200 megawatts of Canadian wind power through Northern Vermont to Monroe, New Hampshire.

Boston-based nonprofit Citizens Energy is co-developing the project. They'll be at the Concord Holiday Inn from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday to talk about how the power line could benefit low-income families along its route.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

State officials say they're close to finalizing a deal that would bring clean water to Bedford residents whose wells have been contaminated with toxic chemicals called PFCs since 2016.

The contamination likely came from air emissions at the nearby Saint Gobain Plastics Plant. Since then, many residents have been drinking bottled water as they wait for Saint Gobain to pay to connect them to Manchester's water system.

New Hampshire Fish & Game

A reality show chronicling the work of New Hampshire Fish & Game officers is back on Animal Planet.

North Woods Law was set in Maine from 2012 to 2016, and moved to New Hampshire last year. It follows the conservation officers who enforce the state's fish, game, wildlife recreation and marine laws.

In the new season, which airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m., the Department of Fish & Game says officers will run a search and rescue mission on Mount Washington, investigate a cold case, suspicious hunters and drug crimes, help a disabled hawk and more.

PSNH / Flickr Creative Commons

The state Supreme Court has ruled for Eversource in the company's fight with the town of Bow over the value of a local power plant.

The decision comes as the utility finishes selling off Merrimack Station as part of its deregulation process.

The plant and some related assets have made up a big part of Bow's tax rolls for decades.

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