Energy

Liberty Utilities' natural gas pipeline proposal gets its first close-up with the public tonight in Epping.

The company will hold an open house to answer questions about the project, known as Granite Bridge.  

The 27-mile proposed pipeline would run underground along Route 101 from Stratham to Manchester. Liberty also wants to build a liquefied natural gas storage facility in an empty quarry in Epping.

Wednesday’s open house marks the start of public input on the project, as Liberty works to get Granite Bridge approved.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Concord’s city council wants more time to get local businesses on board with a plan to transition to all renewable energy sources within about 30 years.

Councilors in the state capital voted Monday night to get a fiscal review of the proposal before aiming to pass it next month.

Saratoga Associates

The state Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a much-debated wind farm in the town of Antrim.

Plans for the project began nearly ten years ago, but have been tangled in regulatory and legal battles. Nearby residents argue the proposed turbines threaten the natural landscape and wildlife, as well as human health.

File photo / Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New England’s power grid operator is getting pushback on a study that said some worst-case scenarios could lead to rolling blackouts in the region by 2024.

Jim Richmond via Flickr Creative Commons

Critics of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant voiced concerns about the facility’s bid for a new license at an annual federal meeting in Hampton Wednesday night.

Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission say the Seacoast plant is currently operating safely, despite cracks spreading through some of its concrete.

New Hampshire has high electricity rates, a major nuclear power plant, and has been in a years-long battle over hydropower development. How do these factors impact energy policy in the Granite State? We look at the state's newly updated energy plan, which prioritizes lowering rates, and has less to say about mass transit and renewable energy.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Energy leaders from around New England met in Manchester Friday to brainstorm how to keep the region’s lights on at a reasonable price long-term.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Senator Maggie Hassan was in Nashua Friday to tout her proposed study on the renewable energy practice of net metering, which lets ratepayers offset their bills by selling power they generate back into the grid.

It’s commonly used for homeowners to save on energy costs with rooftop solar panels, but it’s possible with bigger customers and energy developments, too – depending on state laws.

Hassan, a Democrat, wants the National Academy of Sciences to study the issue, so states like New Hampshire can fine-tune those rules.

File photo

Eversource has filed a new version of its request for a new hearing on its proposed Northern Pass transmission line.

The state Site Evaluation Committee, or SEC, is already scheduled to discuss the utility's appeal on May 24.

But the committee hadn't yet put out its formal, written denial of the project the first time Eversource made that request, in February.

creative commons

The New Hampshire Senate Thursday put an end to one effort to expand energy efficiency funding in the state.

They voted down a bill regarding how the state spends money from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI.

The proposal, which had passed the House, would have gotten rid of the RGGI rebate for residential ratepayers.

A solar power developer wants to install an array on a sealed-off Superfund site in Londonderry. It’s one of the largest solar projects currently in the works in the state. 

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: April 20, 2018

Apr 20, 2018

Legislators find the state may be on the hook to pay a lot more money to hospitals for people with no insurance or for those on Medicaid.  A proposed constitutional amendment that would give crime victims more rights gets hung up in a House committee.  And the state emphasizes cost and competition in its new energy plan. 

Jim Richmond

New Hampshire is refocusing its energy policy for the next decade, aiming to prioritize lower costs for consumers and to allow “unaided market competition” for all forms of energy.

Courtesy of Keene State College

Keene State College is pledging to run its heat plant completely off biofuels, rather than heating oil, in less than two years. In that same window, it will look to cut per capita electric, heat and water use by 20 percent.

Those are among a number of new sustainability goals the college is announcing this week.

By 2030, the school is also pledging to cut overall greenhouse gas emissions by half over current levels, as well as divert upwards of 90 percent of its waste. 

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The Northern Pass project will go back before the state Site Evaluation Committee next month.

The panel denied the huge power line proposal in February, and developer Eversource had asked it to reconsider.

Now that its written denial of the project is out, the committee has set a hearing on the issue for May 24 in Concord, with an extra day scheduled for June 4 if necessary.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Lebanon is pursuing several energy-related efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint and lower power costs citywide.

One is what’s known as municipal, or community, aggregation. Under that model, city residents and businesses could opt-in to collectively purchase electricity.  That would enable them to buy wholesale power at relatively low rates.  

Flicker CC / https://flic.kr/p/drsrm8

A proposal for New Hampshire's biggest solar farm doesn't pass muster with zoning laws in Concord.

The Zoning Board of Appeals this week rejected the 54-acre solar farm because it had too many "impervious surfaces" that would cause rain to run off instead of soak into the ground.

Project developer NextEra will consider whether to appeal. Spokesman Bryan Garner acknowledged to the Concord Monitor that the project doesn't "fit neatly or conform to existing zoning codes."

Sunset Power Lines
Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

In an effort to cut down on infrastructure costs and reduce energy bills for consumers, Liberty Utilities is looking to install batteries in hundreds of homes in the Upper Valley this fall.

The effort is a pilot program involving 300 customers in the Lebanon area, spokesperson John Shore said. Ultimately, the company plans to expand to about 1,000 homes 

PSNH

The first law of thermodynamics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can change from one form to another. One of those forms is heat. And now an entrepreneur in New Hampshire says he has found a way to make use of the heat given off at power plants to increase the efficiency of those power plants and generate more electricity.

Granite Geek David Brooks, a reporter at the Concord Monitor, joins All Things Considered host Peter Biello to explain how this works.

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

Robert Garrova for NHPR

The City of Nashua announced today a new program to bring more solar power to the city.

 

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess outlined the campaign at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter which switched on its own 131-panel solar array earlier this year.

 

It’s called the “Solarize + Campaign,” and the plan is to allow residents and local businesses to pool resources in order to get better deals on solar energy construction and efficiency improvements.

 

Maine In, N.H. Out for Energy Contract with Massachusetts

Mar 28, 2018
Sam Evans-Brown /NHPR

Massachusetts energy officials have announced they're going with Plan B to bring Canadian hydroelectric power to the Bay State.

They've selected a back-up project that runs transmission lines through Maine, after New Hampshire state regulators refused to allow Plan A – the controversial Northern Pass project.

But the Maine project, known as New England Clean Energy Connect, also faces an uncertain future.

In Massachusetts, the announcement got kudos and criticism from those closely watching the state's selection of a massive clean energy project:

ISO-New England

New England has gotten federal approval for a first-in-the-nation type of power supply auction. It'll let new renewable energy projects take over for old fossil fuel plants on the grid.

Once a year, the nonprofit grid operator ISO-New England holds an auction for power generators who want to supply energy for the region, starting three years out. 

Courtesy photo

Governor Chris Sununu says state environmental regulators will roll out what he calls a New Hampshire-first energy policy within a few weeks.

He offered few details Thursday at a conference with clean energy advocates, but he spoke broadly of balancing technology with energy costs.

“For so long we’ve had this idea that – that either you’re all in on renewables or you’re all in on low rates…. That is old school thinking. We can have our cake and we can eat it too.”

Offshore Drilling Debate Revived In New England

Mar 7, 2018

A public hearing earlier this week attracted environmentalists, fishing groups, and many others who oppose President Trump's new proposal to expand offshore drilling in the Atlantic, including off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. We talk with NHPR's energy and environmental reporter Annie Ropeik about the latest developments and what impact offshore drilling might have for the state. 

Eversource

The Department of Environmental Services has finished a long-awaited report on a Seacoast power line proposal from Eversource.

The DES is recommending the state Site Evaluation Committee approve the 13-mile reliability project – with conditions.

Those center on the potential water quality and sediment effects of Eversource’s plan to bury nearly a mile of cable under Little Bay, between Durham and Newington.

Before the state decides whether to permit the project, DES wants Eversource to test its proposed method, which involves blowing a trench across the bay bottom.

EPA on Twitter

During his New Hampshire visit Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt signaled plans for new federal energy policies that could bolster a struggling regional industry – biomass.

In a letter to Gov. Chris Sununu, Pruitt suggests the agency plans to add biomass, including wood and other plant-based fuels, to its “‘all of the above’ energy portfolio.” (Read the full letter below.)

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.


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.

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. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

New England utility markets are still processing Thursday’s rejection of the Northern Pass project application at the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee.

Eversource’s 192-mile transmission line proposal had just been picked by Massachusetts for a big contract to bring Canadian hydropower to New England.

Now that the project has stalled, Massachusetts says only that it's re-evaluating. Its other options include other big, hydro-fueled transmission lines.

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