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My Turn: Bow power plant is important to the economy

Recent articles in the Concord Monitor and New Hampshire Business Review reported on a petition effort to shut down Merrimack Station in Bow and Schiller Station in Portsmouth, both owned and operated by PSNH. The petition was signed by a number of local businesses.

I think it is important to present the larger picture of what Merrimack Station means to the local economy, its role in providing needed power generation at peak usage periods and its effect on air quality and the environment. Let’s take this last point first.

Emissions scrubber: This was an installation mandated by state law in 2006 to satisfy a multi-pollution reduction bill first crafted in 2001 by then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. It resulted in a reduction of mercury emissions by more than 90 percent and a reduction in sulfur by more than 90 percent, exceeding mandated requirements. This significant reduction is rarely acknowledged and has dramatically improved emissions air quality.

Why Merrimack Station is needed: Over the past several decades, Merrimack Station has saved PSNH customers in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It is true that state-mandated emissions reduction technology (the scrubber) added significantly to the cost of energy production, and for this reason Merrimack Station does not operate continuously. But during periods when demand for energy is great and the market price peaks, Merrimack Station is fired up and provides cheaper energy for its customers. For example, in the first quarter of 2013 customers saved millions because Merrimack Station was operating during a cold snap when market prices rose dramatically.

Economic impact: Merrimack Station employs about 100 area residents, making it one of the largest employers in Bow. In addition, the plant pays more than $5 million annually in property taxes in that community. Concord receives more than $300,000 in taxes from PSNH, mostly associated with generation facilities at Garvins Falls.

In the interest of full disclosure, PSNH is a member of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce. It is a longtime supporter of our efforts to build a stronger economy in the capital region, even though it does not sell power in the Concord marketplace. PSNH has been a staunch ally in job creation and economic development through its partnership with the state Department of Resources and Economic Development. PSNH supports numerous other philanthropic organizations here, including the McAuliffe-Shepherd Discovery Center, Volunteer NH, the New Hampshire Travel Council, the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits, the Business Committee for the Arts, the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and many more. Employees are engaged locally on nonprofit boards and serve as volunteers for numerous good causes. PSNH is a good corporate citizen.

We can all agree on the need for clean, renewable energy sources. We must also face the fact that we are paying some of the highest electric costs in the country. A diversified energy production portfolio is critical to providing some balance to the ebbs and flows of a potentially volatile market. A significant investment has been made in Merrimack Station to improve air quality and reduce emissions. We should realize the benefits of that investment. This is not the time to call for a shutdown.

(Tim Sink is president of the Greater Concord
Chamber of Commerce.)

Legacy Comments16

Yes, "In the interest of full disclosure" the chambers of commerce take so much money from psnh that they feel compelled or pressured to shill for them even if it's against the best interests of NH citizens. Close that filthy money pit and stop poisoning NH. Now they'll need a cooling tower to comply with federal specs. Are we going to pay for that one too? They spent more on that scrubber than a brand new gas plant would have cost - and now it sits idle - while collecting big annual returns from ratepayers. How do you spell "fleece"?

I had never heard of the IJ Review so I had to look it up. Ha, ha, ha! Nothing independent about it. Just looking at the topics on it was enough to see it is another right wing conservative "review." Can't you people find any thing that isn't biased to support your views? That graph the Yale prof put up was a joke, couldn't even get by with that in high school. Maybe he works for the same museum that proves the world is only 10.000 years old and humans played around with dinos. I hear that is a big tea party favorite too.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by your comment..I had the same reaction when 1/2 the country voted for the Chicago law professor. Twice.

Tillie's Saul Alinsky tactics for leftists - demean & destroy - never ever get in the realm of debating ideas

The people who want to shut down Bow are the same nuts that are against wind generation and Northern Pass. They are the reason Seabrook never got the second reactor and why electricity costs in New England are outrageous. We wonder why there are no manufacturing jobs any more. The cost of power is one reason the good jobs are gone. I too would like to see the list of businesses that signed that petition. I would be more than happy to take my business elsewhere.

I agree with you but we really don't need Northern Pass, I am with the "nuts" there. It will save the average household South of $10 per month. That is $120 per year.....beer money. However, we need to look to where we spend the most tax money and cut there.

Can someone publish the local business that signed the petition so that we can not do business with them?

great idea

First of all this is a movement orchestrated in coordination with the Sierra Club which tells us that it is far left. It is championed on this website and this site also shows where the extremists are and how they operate, including busing in people from other states to protest. Here is the site: http://awe-ne.com/?tag=public-opposition

The people who advocate the mothballing of Bow are the same ones who forced PSNH to spend many, many millions on the scrubber just a few years ago. Now after it is installed they demand the station be shut down. They are the same people who oppose the NP project in its entirety, no matter what is put on the table. I don't understand what it is these people want. Most of them are likely unaware of what else is going on at the Bow power plant; if they did they'd no doubt make up reasons to oppose it, too.

GDN, Nice job pointing out the double standard!

It would be a double standard if it was true - but it isn't. The scrubber became a good idea [investment] when they doubled the price, got a guaranteed 10+ percent annual return - tax free - plus reimbursement from ratepayers. Tell me someone had to force them into a deal like that. They knew that gas was trending lower and their coal plants were toast. This is just another fleecing of NH by psnh of CT. Just check their resume, it's full of them - top of the list is the proposed no. pass rip off.

guaranteed that the bumper sticker level of knowledge of the left that post here will not enable them to understand the substance of this letter

Exactly critical thinking and liberalism not a good match. They think science is a political hatchet based on group think & consensus and not established fact.

Yea, critical thinking is something the right does so well.

https://www.ijreview.com/2013/10/87474-yale-professors-surprising-discovery-tea-party-supporters-scientifically-literate/

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