The New Hampshire House yesterday easily passed a requirement that New Hampshire power companies use more renewable resources in their electric generating plants.
By a 253-37 vote, it adopted House Bill 873. The bill requires the state to get nearly 25 percent of its energy by the year 2025 from renewables, like wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal and wood-fired sources.
Rep. James Garrity, R-Atkinson, said the bill is important to the state economy and to energy independence, even if it comes at a small cost.
“If this sticks a stick in the eye of the sheiks or crazy men in South America holding us hostage for oil, it’s worth it to me,” he said.
Garrity said the net effect on rates is expected to be between 33 cents and $1.24 per month for the average customer by 2025.
In a worst case, the added cost would range from 61 cent to $5.73 a month, he said.
Gov. John Lynch applauded the vote. He has made passage of the 25/25 standard a priority for his administration.
“Reaching that goal will give our state more energy choices, bolster our economy and make our air and water cleaner. It will help create jobs right here in New Hampshire by expanding uses for our wood products, in building clean power plants, and in research and development.” Bill sponsors told the House that a University of New Hampshire study predicts that the emphasis on renewable sources will create 1,100 jobs and have a $1 million impact on annual state revenue.
Prime sponsor Rep. Suzanne Harvey, D-Nashua, said the bill would create “a hedge against volatile energy costs and a reduction of greenhouse gases in our state.” New Hampshire is the only state in New England without a renewable energy policy, she said.
The bill requires all power companies to have Regional Energy Credits. They can either earn them by building their own renewable capacity or buy them from companies with renewable power plants, Harvey said.
Garrity said the bill has been in process for a year. Discussions leading to its passage encouraged two projects expected to deliver an economic boost to the North Country, he said. The Groveton Renewable Energy Park, including an ethanol production plant, and the Laidlaw Energy announcement of a wood-fired generator at the former paper mill site in Berlin can be traced to the state’s move toward renewable energy, Garrity said.
Rep. Gene Anderson, D-Lebanon, argued that the bill is a mistake that will feed the state’s appetite for energy.
“We don’t need renewable energy, we need a real effective conservation program, and I think then we’ll stop wasting,” he said.
Using compact fluorescent light bulbs would cut consumption by 10 percent, unplugging electronic devices could cut another 5 percent, he said.
By Tom Fahey
State House Bureau Chief
6 April 2007
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