NEW CASTLE – A veteran Granite State environmentalist is heading to Concord this session as chairman of the Legislature’s Science, Technology and Energy Committee. And he said there will be plenty for his committee to tackle in the coming months.
State Rep. David Borden, D-New Castle, said key among them will be working with their Senate colleagues and Gov. Maggie Hassan to formulate a new 10-year energy plan for New Hampshire.
Also on the committee’s horizon are bills to revamp the state’s involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, establishing a moratorium on wind turbines, strengthening the state’s renewable energy portfolio standards and banning ethanol in gasoline.
Borden is a veteran of the committee, having served as a member from 2006 to 2010. He regained his seat in 2012. He also has a long list of environmental credentials to his credit, most recently as a member of the state Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Board.
He said he was proud to learn from House Speaker Terie Norelli that more people applied to be on his committee than any other.
“There’s a lot of interest, particularly in energy,” he said. “There’s so much potential for jobs in our state (from a renewable energy economy) if we understand it in the right way,” he said. “If we can reduce our energy consumption and get our energy from local sources, it will be such a benefit to the state.”
Borden said he suspects he was tapped to be chairman because of his recent work of the EESE Board on a comprehensive state energy review. The review is a precursor to upcoming work by the Legislature and Hassan on the 10-year energy plan, he said.
The previous plan, created in 2001, “is fairly good but definitely dated,” Borden said. It anticipated such things as creation of the renewable portfolio standards, which requires a certain percentage of energy generated come from renewable sources. And it also called for weatherization of state buildings, which has been occurring, using funding from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
At the same time, it called for a 25 percent reduction in energy by 2025, “which is much too long a time-frame and didn’t give us the ability to check on how we’re doing.”
He sees a new plan as a set of metrics to measure progress “relatively easily and efficiently” on a regular basis, such as annually or biennially.
He said another “absolutely critical” component of a new plan must be a mechanism that allows for private investment in renewable energy. He proposes an “energy trust fund,” where “private-sector money would be safely invested and would be used for specific projects.”
He said most New England states have an energy trust fund of some sort, which helps the state because it generates jobs and benefits the economy. Although at this point, he doesn’t have many specifics on how it would be set up, it would not use money from the general fund.
He said his committee “has a mandate to not only craft and recommend passage of legislation (creating a new 10-year plan) but also work on how the plan is implemented,” he said.
Moreover, he said, the plan “has to have broad buy-in from both parties.”
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