Energy

Evolving Energy In New England

2 hours ago
Tafe Sa Tonsley; Flickr

As several power plants in New England are planning to retire in the next few years, states are facing pressure to move toward more environmentally friendly power sources. As a result, the Northern Pass Project and other energy infrastructure developments are for looking to Canada, renewable energy, and wind. 

GUESTS:

Josh Rogers for NHPR

Northern Pass interveners and opponents, Eversource staff, and lawyers - many lawyers - gathered in a big, rented room with custard-colored walls. And that’s where they will be every day until these hearings end, weeks from now.

PSNH

Members of the timber industry were in the state capitol today, arguing for the passage of a bill that would support the state’s struggling biomass industry.

www.infrastructurereportcard.org

The American Society of Civil Engineers has released their 2017 report card on New Hampshire’s infrastructure -- and the state is far from the honor roll.

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New Hampshire utility regulators have rejected Eversource's plan to purchase about ten percent of the power from the proposed Northern Pass Project.

The proposed agreement would have reserved 100 megawatts of the Northern Pass power line for Eversource.

The deal was rolled out as a way to show that the energy over the power line would in fact benefit New Hampshire rate-payers.

File photo

A new report from the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy says New Hampshire doesn’t necessarily need to increase energy production to grow the economy.

The report challenges a widely held economic outlook in the state that says new sources of energy, like gas pipelines or transmission wires, are needed to bring down the cost of electricity for business to grow.

Thomas Gehrke / Flickr Creative Commons

 

In his inaugural address last week, Gov. Chris Sununu made it clear he thinks the state must — and can — act to reduce the state's high cost of electricity.

“We can’t be passive anymore," Sununu said. "We have to find the right solutions to get it done and get it done our way. Do we need to look at Northern Pass? You bet we do — 1,100 megawatts of clean, renewable energy? How do we say no to that when we have the highest rates in the country? We can help ratepayers.”

Keith Shields; NHPR

Many New Hampshire households use wood pellet stoves for heat, but now towns, schools, and businesses are turning to biomass to generate heat and electricity. But questions abound about the sustainability, and carbon output, of this alternative energy source.  


Pexels

 We discuss the top stories in science, technology, the environment and energy in New Hampshire:  a new biotech manufacturing institute in Manchester; Dyn hacked by the "internet of things"; and how GMOs may help slow the spread of Lyme disease.  We also look at top energy and environment stories, plus advances in indoor farming. 


NHPR Staff

Speaking at a Business and Industry Association energy symposium, Chris Sununu said New England needs more natural gas and anyone who disagrees is wrong. He said the pipeline proposed for NH and scuttled by the Kinder Morgan company earlier this year would have been wrong for the state. But Sununu added he hopes Kinder Morgan and other companies will look to build here in the future, and said if the project is designed with local input, and he’s persuaded it works for New Hampshire, he’ll fight for it.

Among the presidential candidates, environmental issues haven’t gotten much play this campaign season.

Here in New Hampshire, that’s not quite the case, especially in the gubernatorial race where issues like Northern Pass, solar and wind energy and high energy costs have helped shape the campaign.

Pellergy / Flickr CC

For the last few years New Hampshire has used money from the Renewable Energy Fund to help with the costs of wood pellet furnaces and boilers.

The incentives are aimed at promoting sustainable energy use and getting rid of dirty old wood stoves. which can pose health risks. 

Sam Evans-Brown

  The utility that provides steam heat for the New Hampshire Statehouse and a number of other state government facilities is shutting down. 

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The Northern Pass -- the proposed power line that would connect New England to Canadian hydropower -- has won a victory in Coos County Superior Court. A judge has dismissed a suit brought by the project's primary opponent, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

Ivo Rocha Jr / Flickr/CC

We’ll check in with where the Northern Pass project stands, and what’s next in the process.

 

GUESTS:

 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Gov. Maggie Hassan has issued an executive order updating New Hampshire's goals of reducing fossil fuel use at state-owned facilities by 50 percent by 2030.

Kinder Morgan / http://www.kindermorgan.com/content/docs/TGP_Northeast_Energy_Direct_Fact_Sheet.pdf

The energy company's announcement that it had suspended the controversial three billion dollar proposal prompted celebration among the project's opponents who considered the pipeline dangerous and unnecessary. But others warn that without more infrastructure, energy costs will rise.

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Energy company Kinder Morgan announced yesterday it is shelving plans for its controversial natural gas pipeline project through Southern New Hampshire. The news will likely increase the focus on other infrastructure projects in the region.

Debating N.H.'s Energy Future

Mar 24, 2016
Sabatino Bahir / Flickr/CC

Granite State businesses have long bemoaned New Hampshire's high energy costs, complaining they discourage expansion here and even tempt some firms to leave the state.  Last fall, the Business and Industry Association launched a new campaign called Energize NH to focus attention on what it calls a crisis:  the high price of energy and the need for more infrastructure and supply to lower those costs. The Energize NH campaign comes at a key time, when the Granite State seems engaged in a huge discussion about energy over pipelines and powerlines, and whether other approaches and other ways of thinking are in order, including better efficiency, a smarter grid, and an emphasis on those power sources that don't contribute to climate change.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

More than one hundred groups and individuals were granted the official status of “interveners” before the state’s Site Evaluation Committee, which reviews proposed energy projects. These interveners have the right to file motions on the Northern Pass project, a $1.6 billion proposal that would connect hydroelectric dams in Quebec to the New England electricity markets.

Flickr

The New Hampshire house has backed a measure to lift the cap on a key solar energy program.

Currently, those generating solar power in New Hampshire can be reimbursed for sending excess energy back to the grid, but the cap on that reimbursement program is set at 50 megawatts. The House measure would increase that to 100 megawatts. 

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

Tuesday Lancaster voters on a 113-to-8 vote gave the select board permission to borrow up to $320,000 for solar arrays that would generate 121 kilowatts.

However, rebates could lower the cost to about $243,000, town officials have said.

Town officials predict going solar will save the town about $25,000 a year. That’s about 25 percent of the town’s total energy cost.

It was estimated it could take about 15 years to pay for the equipment, but one town official said if the rebates come through and drop the price to about $243,000 it would be much quicker.

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

Officials say plans to build an 8.5-megawatt solar project in Merrimack County can't proceed until more people are allowed to net meter.

Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield tells the Concord Monitor the solar installation, slated to become the largest in the state, would help halve the city's electric bill.

The project has received municipal approval, but Merrifield says the project is made financially viable through net metering, which lets customers sell excess solar power back into the grid.

Via Flickr CC

New Hampshire gas prices have continued to drop in recent weeks, though they may start to slowly rise over the coming weeks. 

New Hampshire's largest electric utility is seeking permission to buy and sell natural gas from a proposed pipeline expansion.

The Concord Monitor reports Eversource filed a request Thursday with the Public Utilities Commission that would allow it to buy natural gas from the Access Northeast pipeline expansion for two decades.

The pipeline expansion would be built by the Hartford, Connecticut-based utility and two other firms through Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The Northern Pass project is bidding for a contract to sell a portion of its energy to the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The three states have requested proposals in a process they are calling the "Clean Energy RFP" which they hope will drive down the cost of large-scale renewable energy, by buying in bulk.

The program is accepting bids from utility scale wind, solar and large-scale hydropower projects, as well as hydrogen fuel-cells and even battery storage.

Overall, natural gas is by far the most popular source of home heating in the U.S. But in the Northeast, homeowners are much more likely than in other regions to use heating oil.

Many homeowners are smiling this winter, because fuel prices are down 50 percent from two years ago.

But not everyone is happy. Buying heating oil is a little like playing poker: Bet on the wrong price and it'll cost you.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Two members of New Hampshire's Congressional delegation have come out in opposition to Northeast Energy Direct—the controversial natural gas pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan.

EPA Head To Highlight Biomass In New Hampshire Visit

Nov 16, 2015
Chesapeake Bay Program via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/UFV42

  The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in New Hampshire today promoting biomass energy. 

Lakes Region Planning Commission

A Boston hydropower developer is exploring the possibility of using two dams along a western New Hampshire river to generate electricity.

The Valley News reports Grafton Hydro has filed for a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to find out if it's feasible to generate power from the

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