Republican Gov. Paul LePage is defending his support of legislation that could make it easier for private businesses to use eminent domain to seize property for natural gas pipeline expansion. The governor says the legislation is necessary to alleviate what he calls the New England energy crisis. But the governor's two opponents oppose the move.

At issue is federal legislation known as H.R.1900, The Natural Gas Permitting Reform Act, which aims to streamline the permitting process for the development of natural gas pipeline projects.

Sunset Power Lines
Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

The state’s Public Utilities Commission has approved a 47 percent rate hike for Liberty Utilities customers.

Company spokesman John Shore acknowledged the increase is significant.

“When the rates go up like this, it’s not something we like to see, obviously. Our customers don’t like to see it. But unfortunately, it’s what the market is.”

Shore says the average customer will be paying about $50 more each month.

Sam Evans-Brown

New Hampshire's gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates are addressing energy industry leaders, consumers and policy makers at an annual summit in Concord.

The New Hampshire Energy Summit being held Monday is organized by the Dupont Group and the New Hampshire Independent Energy Council, a coalition of non-utility electric generators, renewable generation developers, private transmission companies and electricity suppliers.

Gov. Maggie Hassan and her Republican challenger both will speak, as will U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Scott Brown.


At the tail-end of the section that opens New Hampshire’s ten-year energy strategy, released Tuesday, there are three paragraphs that acknowledge the issue which has been dominating the regional energy conversation. During the winter prices spike because natural gas electricity plants have been built and homeowners have converted to natural gas for heating and the region’s network of gas pipelines has not expanded as demand has grown.

USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab via Flickr

Today on Word of Mouth, invasive species like Zebra Mussels to Asian Carp, are destroying biodiversity across North America. Or are they? Also, we'll look into China’s push to build a frozen food infrastructure. The number of urban Chinese households with a refrigerator has risen from just 7 percent to 95 percent in a decade. We’ll find out what that means for global climate change.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

D-Kuru/Wikimedia Commons

The Northern Forest Center helps create economic opportunity and community vitality from healthy working forests.


David Benckendorf participated in the Center’s Model Neighborhood Project, and was one of 40 homeowners who purchased and installed a wood pellet boiler with the center’s help. “there were a lot of advantages to it and it really peaked my interest.” He eventually converted his oil furnace to a wood pellet boiler.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The Governors of New England and the premiers of the Eastern Canadian Provinces have just wrapped up a meeting in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The conference was focused on the issues of energy and trade, though dueling protests outside the conference meant energy stole the spotlight for much of the event. But the speakers and resolutions of the conference barely touched on the most pressing energy issues facing New England, and this careful side-stepping of the issues  is a reflection of a tumultuous energy landscape.

A biomass plant has been proposed to occupy the site of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, which is shutting down at the end of year.

The idea is in its infancy. The Brattleboro Reformer reports officials plan to organize a public forum to discuss the details.

The state has negotiated a detailed agreement with Entergy, owner of the nuclear plant, providing for millions of dollars for economic development and clean energy projects as well as a "timely decommissioning."


The New England Independent System Operator (or ISO) has a seemingly simple job: to keep the lights on, and the power running.  But behind this goal are the many hurdles of operating the region’s electric grid. Through the peaks of summer air-conditioning and winter cold snaps, the system must remain always ready for spikes in demand.

It would be easy to miss Millsfield. The unincorporated place in the North Country is home to 10 households, many of which are tucked away in the woods, and just two businesses, a bed and breakfast called A Peace of Heaven and the Log Haven restaurant.

“Electricity didn’t show up until the 60s,” said Luc Cote, who’s lived in Millsfield for roughly forty years. “Phone line didn’t come up until mid-60s as well.”

A bi-partisan bill that is a major policy priority for Senator Jeanne Shaheen has easily cleared a procedural vote in the US senate. 79 Senators voted in favor of starting debate on the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, which would ramp up incentives for federal and private spending on energy efficiency measures.

Shaheen is co-sponsoring the bill with Republican Senator Rob Portman from Ohio.


New Hampshire’s two largest electric utilities are piloting new billing programs, aimed at getting people to save electricity. These programs could be part of a sea change in the way we are billed for electricity, aimed at encouraging efficiency and conservation.  And while convincing Americans to use less energy has always been a bit of a slog, these two pilot programs in New Hampshire hope to change that. One uses the brunt force of economics and the other uses the subtle science of psychology.

Public Service of New Hampshire is an energy utility – but it’s about to try an experiment in psychology, which it hopes might prompt consumers to use less electricity.

It's known as "nudging," and to explain how it works we turn to David Brooks, who writes the weekly GraniteGeek science column for the Nashua Telegraph and

The New Hampshire House appears poised to send the question of whether the state's largest utility should sell its power plants to regulators.

In 2012, lawmakers tried to force PSNH to sell its power plants outright, but that effort stalled in the New Hampshire house. So this time around they’ve written a bill that asks the Public Utilities Commission to rule on whether that sale would eventually lower electric rates.

That bill got near unanimous support during a committee hearing Thursday, including from PSNH itself.

Tai Viinikka, courtesy Flickr

We’ve been talking about energy a lot lately in New Hampshire – debates over wind farms, jet-fueled turbines generating power during peak demand, and, of course, Northern Pass.

There’s one energy project that hasn’t gotten much attention lately – a project in Peterborough that would create the largest solar power array in the state.

Flikr Creative Commons / Claudio Schwarz


New Hampshire's House is considering a moratorium on new wind turbine and electric transmission line projects like the 187-mile power line proposed by Northern Pass.

JasonWalton / Flickr Creative Commons

A recent report places New Hampshire in the middle of the pack nationally when it comes to programs and policies to conserve energy, and that we’re behind the other New England states. We’ll look at the costs, regulations and the possible outcomes down the road.


EPA Proposes Tighter Woodstove Emissions Standards

Jan 5, 2014
Woodstove 2006
Gord McKenna / Flickr Creative Commons

The EPA is proposing stricter emissions standards for wood stoves.  Manufacturers would have to build stoves that burn 80 percent cleaner than current models.  And for the first time, pellet stoves would be held to the same standards.  The EPA says pollution from these heaters is linked to asthma attacks, heart attacks, and stroke. 

Ben McCleod via Flickr CC

When it comes to investing in energy efficiency, many in New Hampshire’s clean energy sector are worried the state is falling behind the rest of the region. A recent national report seems to bear that out. It ranks New Hampshire last in New England for efficiency policies. But efforts to ramp up the least controversial energy policy – using less – could have a hard time getting the support of the state’s business community.

ISO New England, the region’s energy grid operator, has suspended the independent supplier People’s Power and Gas. 5,700 Granite State customers who turned to PPG for lower rates will be automatically switched to prices set by Public Service of New Hampshire.

Sustainable Sanitation via Flickr Creative Commons

More than a third of the world’s population don’t have access to clean, safe toilets. It’s a humanitarian and global health hazard, that the world bank drains $260 billion off the global economy each year. The Gates Foundation challenged engineers to develop commodes that are clean, cheap, and don’t require electricity, a sewage system, or even water. But as with and new product, you have to test it. That’s where John Koeller comes in. He’s principal engineer at Maximum Performance, a company who tests toilet efficiency, using its own – ahem—patented material.

Michael Kappel via Flickr CC

A rift has developed among New England states over who should pay for transmission lines needed to carry electricity from renewable energy projects.

The issue is whether ratepayers across the region should foot the bill for power lines needed for southern New England. The debate has pitted Vermont against some of the more populated states to our south.

Southern New England – in particular Massachusetts and Connecticut – needs more renewable generation to meet their clean-energy mandates.

New Hampshire lawmakers say new leadership at Public Service of New Hampshire has brought a change of tone. For policy-makers this as a welcome development as they seek a solution to the steady bleed of customers from the state’s largest utility.

WabbyTwaxx via Flickr Creative Commons

With its abundance and low price, natural gas has recently become New England’s preferred energy source, viewed by some as a cleaner fossil fuel. But growing demand has also raised concerns – about the reliability of supplies and possible price hikes. Also, there are long-term questions about becoming too dependent on natural gas.


eXtension Farm Energy

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Might another possible source for ethanol be discarded pastries from bakeries? For that matter, wouldn’t fermenting unsold bananas, oranges and apples from grocery store produce departments be able to provide an ample supply of fuel?    -- Curious in Warren, PA

New research raises new questions about how green burning wood really is, given the carbon impacts of both cutting and burning trees for energy.  But biomass supporters say carbon calculations are complicated…taking into account the lifecycle of trees, the sustainable practices of foresters today…and although not perfect, is far better than fossil fuels.


Andrew Friedland - the Richard and Jane Pearl Professor in Environmental Studies in the Environmental Studies Program at Dartmouth College: He researches carbon cycling in forests.

Istvanski via Flickr Creative Commons

The heat wave that blanketed the east coast in mid-July was the longest to hit New York City in a decade. Not surprisingly, the Big Apple broke records for energy usage, as sweltering city-dwellers turned up the AC.  The US leads the world in climate control – but at a significant financial and environmental cost.  Leon Neyfakh is a reporter for the Ideas section of the Boston Globe – and author of the article “How to Live Without Air Conditioning”.

Former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister calls for a complete re-think on energy policy. Hofmeister currently heads the group “Citizens for Affordable Energy.” He says investing in twenty-first century energies is the only stimulus our economy needs. But that won’t happen, he says, unless private industry takes the reins and government gets largely out of the way.


John Hofmeister - Founder and CEO, Citizens for Affordable Energy and former Shell Oil President.

NH Energy Wars

Jun 12, 2013

Fifteen years ago, New Hampshire embarked on a dramatic experiment, deregulating electricity. The idea was to bring competition to power production; a sector where typically just a handful of highly-regulated utilities dominated. These days, Granite Staters are being pursued by a variety of power suppliers, from all over.  And their efforts are paying off, with more and morer customers switching from the state’s largest utility, PSNH to new providers.

With lots of proposals on the table right now, from biomass to wind to hydropower, efforts are underway once again to develop a statewide plan and judge these projects with that broader frame of reference in mind.   But it’s not an easy process, taking into account various concerns from the environment to property values to energy costs.