Kelly Ayotte: Push for clean energy begins in New Hampshire

  • Senator Kelly Ayotte at the Monitor editorial board Friday. GEOFF FORESTER

For the Monitor
Published: 9/23/2018 12:14:51 AM

Across the country, elected leaders at every level of government are preparing for critically important elections in November that will set our state and nation on a path toward addressing the challenges facing America. It’s now incumbent upon officials of both parties to talk about their experience and outline a vision for our future that will earn our vote.

Few solutions carry the potential to address our present day economic, national security and environmental needs than those grounded in the generation and storage of clean, abundant and affordable forms of domestically sourced energy. And there’s no better place and time to talk about it than in New Hampshire during National Clean Energy Week.

Energy generation and storage impacts everyone. It powers our homes, sustains our businesses and fuels our transportation. Energy employs our neighbors, affects the prices of consumer products and plays a major role in not only our financial system but our national security as well. The more energy we can source, generate, store and transport domestically, the less reliant we become on foreign nations.

Our state is home to the most bountiful mountains, rivers and forests in America, so it makes sense that I will kick off National Clean Energy Week in Concord at the New Hampshire Energy Summit. This year’s event will include an update on innovative energy projects that are under development in the region along with a discussion on local energy markets and public policy. New Hampshire’s renewable portfolio standard requires 25 percent of electricity sold in the state to come from renewable energy sources by 2025. Thanks in large measure to the leadership at the State House and involvement by local activists, the Granite State is on target to meet this goal.

In 2017, 20 percent of electricity generation in our state came from renewables. According to data made available from the RGGI, about one-fifth of New Hampshire’s net electricity generation comes from renewable resources, with biomass facilities providing half of that renewable power and hydroelectric and wind facilities generating most of the rest. Solar power is also derived from distributed solar generation capacity, such as rooftop solar panels, which totaled about 70 megawatts of installed capacity at the beginning of this year.

Diversified methods of electricity generation not only help to drive local job creation and economic development, they also ensure that the quality of our air and water remains pristine for future generations. This approach in New Hampshire should serve as an example to national lawmakers of what can be accomplished by listening to the demands of constituents, forging consensus and working across party lines.

National Clean Energy Week was first organized in 2017 to facilitate collaboration and pragmatic solutions between energy advocates and partisans when it comes to energy policy. This year’s second annual celebration once again brings together a steering committee comprised of clean-energy groups promoting innovative policy approaches to growing our nation’s solar, wind, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, biomass and energy storage and distribution footprint. Additionally, more than 100 other groups labeled as participating organizations, including clean technology incubators and energy advocates based in all 50 states across the country, will also take part in the week.

It would have been easy for many of these groups, some of which have diametrically opposing points of view on regulation and subsidies, to balk at joining forces. Instead, they will join together with Cabinet secretaries, Democratic and Republican members of the House and Senate, and two-dozen bipartisan governors to recognize the potential for progress through new policies and technological innovation. After all, it should not be too difficult a task seeing that this is exactly the kind of action voters are looking for from leaders today.

According to a recent poll sponsored by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum, 75 percent of voters favor the federal government playing a role in the advancement of newer, cleaner and more reliable energy sources. The midterm election season is the perfect time for leaders of both parties to offer tangible policy objectives that modernize our electric grid and lead to a range of economic, national security and environmental benefits.

National Clean Energy Week will help to advance the cause of clean energy development within government and inside communities across America. I’m proud to be kicking off this venture in New Hampshire because the success of this effort is contingent upon the active participation of those who are willing to set aside partisanship and personal gain to champion what is clearly a benefit for all.

(Kelly Ayotte is a former U.S. senator from New Hampshire. She serves as a senior adviser to Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.)

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