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My Turn: Renewable power law is good for New Hampshire’s economy

A Page 1 story in the Nov. 25 Sunday Monitor headlined “States’ energy laws targeted” describes how and why two organizations, the Heartland Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council want regional portfolio standard laws repealed throughout the United States.

RPS laws, including the one adopted in 2007 by New Hampshire, require utilities to obtain a portion of their electricity from renewable power.

The Heartland Institute and ALEC argue that this requirement hurts a state’s economy.

Nothing could be further from the truth – especially in New Hampshire.

According to a study of the RPS completed in 2011 by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, the total cost of compliance was an average of 75 cents per household per month. This finding was based on three years of data (2008 through 2010) for an average annual statewide cost of $15,635,663.

What do New Hampshire and its electricity ratepayers get for the $15.6 million spent on New Hampshire’s RPS law?

This spring, in preparing for the debate on Senate Bill 218, which modified the RPS law, utility representatives and I found that New Hampshire and its communities received $111.1 million in direct benefits – taxes and economic activity – from its renewable energy projects in 2010.

This research included information from seven wood-to-energy power plants, one operating wind farm and 75 small hydroelectric power projects.

Of the $111.1 million, municipalities and the state received $7.8 million in taxes. These funds pay for schools, roads and other infrastructure.

These revenues include the utility property taxes paid in the towns where these power plants are located, the timber yield taxes paid by landowners whose trees are harvested, fuel taxes paid by the truckers delivering the wood chips and employment taxes paid by those who work at the power plants, and at the logging companies supplying the wood chips.

New Hampshire reaps another $103.3 million in energy dollars spent locally through wood chip purchases, payroll to New Hampshire citizens running the power plants and payments to local vendors, including contractors who produce wood chips that keep the power plants operating.

Here’s the breakdown on the $103.3 million:

∎ New Hampshire’s seven wood-to-energy plants spend $46.8 million purchasing locally grown and harvested wood chips. The plants employ 150 people with an annual payroll of $15.7 million and spend another $6 million with local vendors to maintain and keep their plants running.

∎ Conservatively loggers, truckers and sawmills that harvest and deliver the wood chips to these power plants employ another 300 people with an annual payroll of $18 million and spend an additional $9.3 million locally for parts and equipment.

∎ New Hampshire’s small hydroelectric power plants employ more than 50 people with an annual payroll of $3 million and spend another $1 million on goods and services from local businesses to maintain their dams and turbines.

∎ In 2010, New Hampshire’s one operating wind farm spent $3 million on goods and services from local business and had an annual payroll of $520,000.

We did not calculate the intangible, but very real, benefits New Hampshire gleans from cleaner air emissions, more diverse energy generation and reduced reliance on another state or nation for our power.

New Hampshire’s residents know what works best for them. They do not need advice from national organizations about how New Hampshire should manage renewable energy sources.

When you examine the facts and figures relating to New Hampshire’s RPS law and the renewable energy projects it supports, it is easy to see that it works it and it is worth keeping.

(Jasen Stock is executive director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, a statewide trade group that represents all facets of the forest products industry including landowners, foresters, loggers, truckers, mill owners and biomass plants that produce electricity or heat.)

Legacy Comments10

Question for Mr Stock, What is the cost to bring all these plants up to Federally mandated emission standards. Take a look at the Bow power plant upgrade cost to meet Federal deadlines for emissions and cooling water upgrades. Where do those dollars come from. This yet another example of government creating unfunded mandates. At some point it always comes back to us footing the bill. Someone puts a buck in their pocket, it comes for our collective pockets.

I think it's good to note that burning wood pellets does not increase long term CO2 emissions*. The pellets are made from forest waste, which would otherwise rot and release the same amount of CO2 that the burning releases. *Obviously, as noted recently in classic SCO style ("Question...what do the trucks, skidders, chain saws, pellet plants, fork trucks, and cranes run on??? Solar power???"), any type of energy use requires some use of oil to run equipment for development, manufacture, shipping, etc. The GOP $Koch addicts will apparently say or do anything for the Kochs in order to get another GOP $Koch fix in 2014. Maybe Koch/ALEC can help the GOP $Koch addicts limit renewable energy use, so that the Kochs can make huge profits from their Canadian tar sands leases.

SCO burns pellets and has for 5 years. Purchased new stove last year. The previous 15 years SCO burned wood, cut from the back yard. If only all liberals were that concerned for the enviornment, right?

I've also burned a lot of wood over the last 40 years, and pellets for about 10 years in one house. But I have no idea about how the wood and pellet use compares by political party. In the first house I built and lived in, when I was in my early 20s, I used about 6 cords to heat 2500 sq. ft. in the first winter, including the 1000 sq.ft. basement where the barrel stove was located. After a lot of tightening up, adding lots of insulation, and adding storm windows, 2 cords "from the back yard" kept the same area heated nicely every winter. I'm hoping that someday a new type of automatic pellet stove will be available that also generates some electricity. There are several ideas floating around, but most of them seem too complicated for average homeowner use. Occasionally I do a search for new related ideas. Here's one I found today: Of course even a larger unit like this wouldn't power a whole house.

$ounds like you watch M$orosNBC or as it is called MSNBHeeHaw. Why are you so concerned about the Koch Brothers and ALEC when unions and $oros do the same thing. Drill here, drill now!

Factor in the developed world's total historical contribution to the planet's CO2 via fossil fuels, and we're far ahead of China and India, and so bear more responsibility for the current climate warming. We can choose to deny the facts--with thinly veiled contempt by continuing to utter nonsensical and irrational epithets like "Drill here, drill now", or we can begin to acknowledge scientific reality, and lead the world into a low carbon future.

Not to worry Otis. We will probably stop making everything here. looks that way, with the EPA waiting in the wings with their new mandates. i read there is over a thousand of them. There will be no polution because there will be no jobs. Nobody will be able to afford to open any large size plant with the cost it will involve to accomadate the new EPA mandates. I also read these need laws will also affect small business in regards to what they heat with, etc. EPA is a major job killer. With another 4 years, we can expect more jobs lost and folks not willing to open new plants.

I am not sure why you are worried about CO2 emissions because the United States since 2006 have dropped an average of 92 metric tons or 1.7% per year while those in China, India, Russia have exploded exponentially. Due to economic depression and major lack of productivity due to lack of manufacturing, Europe is on the same track and Japan dropped by 2.4% metric tons due solely to the Fukishima reactor crisis and the lack of power generation for over two months last year. In fact, our emissions are lower as a percentage per capita than all but two countries that signed the Kyoto protocol. We are not the culprit, see China, Russia and India....

“”seven wood-to-energy plants … plants employ 150 people with an annual payroll of $15.7 million”” that’s an avg. pay of $104,666.66??? Any part time openings for say 20hrs a week?

Green renewable power and heat is here !! Three 1/2 tons of pellets to heat the Hound Hotel and it is kept at 70-73 degrees. Charlie & Duke are living large in a nice warm house. And Non, Zip, Nada of my money is going to the Middle East or that Big Blue and Yellow Canadian oil Company that has a track record of treating its employees miserably. Go with Pellet heat and Pellet water heating, A small wind turbine if you can (I am pricing one out for the Hound Hotel, It will be sweet to get a check form PSNH for a change!) The State of Vermont is heating all its new construction public buildings with Pellet Heat! All made right here! My current 3 tons were made in New Hampshire by New England Wood Pellet LLC. Keep our money here my fellow New England Patriots !!! NO heating money to the Saudis or the Irvings in Canada !!!................ Nhdriver, Duke & Charlie ~ Toasty warm !!

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