CHESTERFIELD, N.H. — An invaluable partner of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA) who has helped lead the NHTOA to success with several significant legislative accomplishments, Robert Olson Esq. is this year’s NHTOA) President’s Award honoree.
Mr. Olson’s advocacy on behalf of the state’s six independent biomass energy plants was especially important during last year’s long fight to pass Senate Bill 129, which retained the Renewable Portfolio Standard and kept the biomass plants operating, and this year’s battle to pass Senate Bill 365, which is a key follow-up to SB 129.
“Bob’s help on biomass issues has been vital,” says NHTOA executive director Jasen Stock. “Without Bob, we would have struggled to get this important legislation passed. He knows how to work with legislators on both sides of the aisle and how to accommodate the needs of political leadership. He does an excellent job representing the six independent biomass energy plants in New Hampshire, and thus is an important representative for sustainable forest management as well.”
Born in Massachusetts, Bob became a citizen of the world at a young age. His father was a colonel in the U.S. Army, and before he graduated from high school Bob had lived in Germany (Berlin), Hawaii, Washington, D.C., and Kansas. But New England was always home, and he earned his law degree in 1981 from what was then called the Franklin Pierce Law Center at the University of New Hampshire.
His career as an energy attorney began almost immediately upon graduation. He’s been working with the six biomass plants in N.H. — Bridgewater, Tamworth, Bethlehem, Whitefield, Springfield, and Alexandria — “since they were all just pieces of paper on my desk,” going back to the 1980s. “This has been my career,” he says.
“Biomass energy plants are a unique kind of renewable power,” he comments. “When you look at a typical power plant, all it does is generate power. But biomass addresses so many other needs — it helps improve forest management, it helps create better wildlife habitat, it helps produce better sawlogs for sawmills. The byproduct of burning wood chips for power, wood ash, is spread on farmland. All those values aren’t captured in the price of electricity. What I’ve seen over the years is the people have come to appreciate biomass plants.”
That appreciation has helped Bob, in partnership with the NHTOA and others, score wins in the N.H legislature, including SB 129 and SB 365 (the latter of which passed the legislature but still waits for the Governor’s signature).
“It’s a pleasure working with Bob,” says Jasen Stock. “His knowledge of energy issues and regulations is comprehensive, and he understands that the forest products industry and biomass energy do more than just complement each other, they are partners in the effort to guarantee the residents of New England a constant and guaranteed energy supply.”