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Stating that the six independent biomass energy plants in New Hampshire are at risk for continued operation as a result of foot-dragging by Eversource, a letter sent by several state senators and representatives urges the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to implement Senate Bill 365. The bill was passed last year by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, and requires Eversource to purchase the energy output of the six biomass plants. A gubernatorial veto of SB 365 was overridden last fall by a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate.
The letter states that "the law is clear -- Eversource is to select the proposals submitted to it by the biomass plants that conform to the law and submit them to the commission. This has not occurred and the continued operation of these facilities is at risk and the General Court's important public interest determinations remain unfulfilled."
The letter, which is addressed to Martin Honigberg, chairman of the PUC, and the members of the commission, adds: "The continued operation of these facilities depends on the expeditious implementation of SB 365. We urge you to take the action needed to implement that law and fulfill the General Court's public interest determination."
To read the full letter, click here.
New Hampshire's Current Use Board (CUB), an agency of the N.H. Dept. of Revenue Administration, has proposed a new schedule of Current Use fees as well as new assessment rules. The new fees comprise relatively modest increases, ranging from a 0.4 percent increase for White Pine acreage to 6.3 percent for Hardwood acreage.
The proposed changes to the assessment rules can be downloaded here.
Public hearings on the changes are scheduled as follows:
- Monday, December 10, 2018: Lancaster Town Hall Auditorium. 6:00 p.m.
- Wednesday, December 12, 2018: Keene Parks and Recreation, 2nd Floor - Room 21. 6:00 p.m.
- Friday, December 14, 2018: DRA - Training Room, Concord, N.H. 9:30 a.m.
On Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, State Sen. Jeb Bradley toured DiPrizio Pine Sales in Middleton, N.H., on a fact-finding visit to gather details regarding net metering and how House Bill 365 will help operations like DiPrizio gain energy independence as well as provide incentives for more renewable energy investment in solar, small-scale hydro, and biomass energy in New Hampshire.
Sen. Bradley listens to Marcella Perry, former NHTOA board member, talk about the benefits House Bill 365 will bring to DiPrizio Pine Sales while NHTOA executive director Jasen Stock looks on.
When all the solar panels are installed on these stands and this solar array at DiPrizio is operating next May, it will provide more than enough power to run DiPrizio's sawmill and retail business.
DiPrizio also has a biomass energy burner to supply heat. It can also produce electricity.
HB 365 basically mirrors last year’s net metering bill (SB 446), which the NHTOA supported, the Governor vetoed, and a veto override campaign failed to override the veto in the N.H. House by just 12 votes. HB 365 will raise the net meter cap (i.e., the ability to self-generate electricity) from the current limit of 1 megawatt to 5 megawatts. More NHTOA wood processing members (i.e., sawmills) are looking to produce their own electricity through biomass boilers, solar arrays, or in some cases small hydro power. Most of these businesses need more than 1 megawatt of electricity, so the current cap is restricting their ability to self-generate. HB 365 will fix this problem. Last week the House Science, Technology and Energy committee held a marathon hearing on this bill, and although the testimony overwhelmingly supported HB 365, the opposition was strident, claiming this bill is a ratepayer subsidy to those businesses by shifting power costs. The fiscal note attached to last year’s net metering bill, completed by the NH Public Utilities Commission, stated net metering is cost neutral and in fact would reduce costs, as the local power being generated from these private sources reduces the amount of power needing to be transmitted into the state.
The NHTOA has prepared a list of talking points for people who plan to attend any of the public hearings the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has scheduled to hear testimony on NHDES's second draft of wetlands rules.
The new draft rules contain both good and bad news for landowners, loggers, and foresters. It appears the NHDES heard the NHTOA's concerns earlier this year about the first draft of wetlands rules, and the new draft is an improvement from the January draft. However, sections of the rules are still very confusing to navigate, with multiple cross-references and apparent incorrect cross-references. Moreover, the new draft rules do not improve the current wetland rules (i.e. no crossing dimensions or other standards were modified), and there are several new definitions that appear to extend the regulatory authority of the rules into other areas beyond water quality (e.g. wildlife).
At the public hearings (the schedule appears below), it will be important to emphasize that:
- The rules need to include a separate forest management section.
- The rules need to clarify that corduroy is not "fill."
- Economic and management impacts need to be quantified.
- Permit review timelines need to be defined.
- Administrative burdens should not be shifted on to land managers.
The full text of the NHTOA talking points is available here.
We urge our members to attend one or more of the seven public hearings on the second draft that NHDES has scheduled from Dec. 3rd through the 13th. Here are dates, times, and locations:
- Monday, Dec. 3, 2018: NHDES Headquarters, Room 208C, 29 Hazen Drive, Concord, N.H. 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
- Monday, Dec. 3, 2018: NHDES Headquarters, Room 208C, 29 Hazen Drive, Concord, N.H. 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018: Keene Parks and Recreation Center, 312 Washington St., Keene, N.H. 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
- Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018: Laconia City Hall, 45 Beacon St. East, Laconia, N.H. 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018: North Country Resource Center, 629B Main St., Lancaster, N.H. 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
- Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018: NHDES Pease Field Office, Room A, 222 International Dr., Suite 175, Portsmouth, N.H. 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
- Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018: NHDES Pease Field Office, Room A, 222 International Dr., Suite 175, Portsmouth, N.H. 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.