The New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association is pushing the N.H. Legislature to designate House Bill 225, which seeks to eliminate the N.H. renewable portfolio standard (RPS) law, as “inexpedient to legislate,” which would effectively kill the bill.
A hearing on HB 225 was held at the State House in Concord on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, with dozens of timberland owners, loggers, foresters, sawmill operators, biomass energy plant owners and operators, and others in the forest products industry showing up to urge legislators to stop the bill in its tracks. The NHTOA’s testimony can be read here.
The RPS law is important to NHTOA’s membership and the forest products industry because it is designed to support the continued operation of NH‘s independent biomass power plants. That law does so by providing economic incentives for the development and retention of renewable energy power plants (e.g. biomass electric power plants, biomass thermal plants, solar, small hydroelectric). It does this by creating a marketplace for the sale, by e.g., biomass power plants, of and the purchase of renewable energy certificates (REC) by utilities and competitive energy suppliers.
In talking points presented at the Feb. 7 hearing, the NHTOA pointed out:
· House Bill 225 seeks to eliminate the N.H. renewable portfolio standard (RPS) law. The RPS law is important to our membership and the forest products industry because it is designed to support the continued operation of NH‘s independent biomass power plants.
· The RPS provides over $186 million annually in economic benefit to the State according to an analysis done by the NH Timberland Owners Association. The RPS supports over 500 jobs throughout the state in forestry, power plants and clean energy technology.
· The RPS supports diversity in energy generation and supports NH’s own renewable energy industry, including its wood-to-energy plants, small hydro plants, solar, biomass thermal and forestry industries. Businesses need stability and certainty if they are going to make investments. Diversity is important so we are not so reliant on natural gas for electricity with its winter price increases.
· Dismantling the RPS program WILL NOT help lower energy bills by any noticeable amount. The issue driving up energy prices is the escalating transmission and distribution expenses (according to the N.H. Public Utilities Commission these expenses have increased by 374% over 11 years), and the lack of adequate natural gas for generation in cold winter months; that gas scarcity drives up the cost of the gas that is available. Dismantling the RPS will not resolve these problems. Given the recent and planned reductions in power generation in New England (e.g. closure of Vermont Yankee, and other fossil fuel and nuclear generation), now is not the time to pass legislation that would risk closure of more power plants.
· The Legislature should NOT attempt to “send a message” about lowering electricity prices by taking an action that will not resolve the issue but will HARM existing NH jobs and industries that are providing economic benefits throughout the state.
· The renewable portfolio law’s benefits are significant, ranging from encouraging schools and hospitals and a county complex to install wood pellet boilers to homeowner and municipal solar installations to the state’s largest biomass plant having been built in Berlin, and to the retention of the state’s existing hydroelectric facilities and existing biomass plants and associated forestry jobs.