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Terrible weather outside could not keep landowners, loggers, foresters, sawmill operators, and others in the forest products industry from showing up in force on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, in Representatives Hall in the New Hampshire State Capitol to tell the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee why HB 225 is a bad bill. More than 40 people testified on the bill, almost all of them in opposition.

The proposed legislation would repeal the Renewable Portfolio Standard law, causing the industry to lose a valuable market for wood chips and pulp, as biomass energy plants that burn pulp and chips depend on the RPS law. The law provides economic incentives for the development and retention of renewable energy power plants (e.g. biomass electric power plants, biomass thermal plants, solar, small hydroelectric) by creating a marketplace for the sale of and the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) by utilities and competitive energy suppliers.

Marcella Perry, retired chief financial officer at LaValley-Middleton Building Supply and DiPrizio Pine Sales, explained to committee members why HB 225 would be so devastating to the industry: "Having a viable wood chip and pulp market means we have viable lumber markets. And those markets mean jobs, plain and simple."

In prepared testimony, the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association stated:

"These power plants provide a key market for low-grade timber. According to the U.S. Forest Service’s forest inventory analysis (FIA) data, almost two-thirds of the standing timber in New Hampshire is considered low-grade (unable to produce a sawlog). Without markets for low-grade timber, landowners and land managers are unable to economically improve forest health and vigor, and in many instances entire woodlots go unmanaged; weeding and thinning of diseased and malformed timber does not occur, weakening these woodlots both environmentally and ecologically. Worse, timber lots are sometimes 'high-graded,' where the logger 'cuts the best and leaves the rest,' resulting in genetically inferior timber stands with poor growing stock." 

"When low-grade timber markets diminish, New Hampshire’s sawmill industry suffers for two reasons: log supply and mill waste disposal. As mentioned above, when low-grade timber markets are devalued or disappear, entire woodlots do not see any management. With no timber, including sawlogs, being harvested from these woodlots, sawmills have difficulty procuring sawlogs to mill. Secondly, when low-grade wood markets shrink, mills are unable to find homes for their chipped slabs and sawdust. Currently, we are seeing some mills already stockpiling chips and sawdust, because their delivery quotas to biomass power plants or the few remaining pulp/paper mills have been cut."

"The Economic Contribution of the Sawmill Industry in New Hampshire," a report prepared for the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association by Plymouth State University's Center for Business and Community Partnerships, with import/export data provided by Innovative Natural Resource Solutions LLC, is now available for reading and downloading on the NHTOA website.

Printed copies will be available at NHTOA's office in Concord beginning Feb. 15. Contact the office if you're interested in receiving a copy.

 

Click here to read the full 18-page report.

 

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.    

 

Loggers know how to have fun, and they know how to make their fun benefit a great cause. This year's Log-A-Load fundraising program raised $6,805.64 for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, also known as CHaD. A check in that amount was presented to CHaD by NHTOA executive director Jasen Stock at the 23rd annual Loggers & Truckers convention at the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel on Oct. 22.

The centerpiece of the NHTOA's Log-A-Load program is the annual sporting clays Fun Shoot -- "Golf with shotguns" is how Jasen described the event at the convention -- which was held in August of this year at the Green Mountain Shooting Preserve in Effingham, N.H. More than 100 NHTOA members, supporters, friends, and staff participated this year, and the funds raised were more than triple last year's total.

“People who own timberland and who are in the forest products industry are outdoors-oriented by definition,” said Jasen Stock, NHTOA executive director. “Shooting sports is a natural for them, and support for our sporting clays trap-shooting event is growing tremendously. The fact that the Fun Shoot benefits CHaD, one of the best children’s hospitals in New England, also encourages great participation.”

At the Fun Shoot, participants took aim at 50 sporting clays at 10 shooting stands at the Green Mountain facility. Sponsors supporting the Fun Shoot included: Wagner Forest Management Ltd., New England Mat, Farm Credit East, J.M. Champeau, Madison Lumber Mill, Manac Trailers, Pleasant River Lumber, QDMA First N.H. Chapter, Zambon Brothers Logging, Bear Country Powersports, Peters Logging, Engie – Pinetree Power, Tucker Mountain Maple, Chadwick Baross, Pine Tree Lumber, White Mountain Lumber, Eversource, Nortrax, Cersosimo Lumber, Cousineau, Freightliner, and G.H. Berlin Windward.

“This event has become established on the industry’s calendar,” said Ray Barthilaume of Wagner Forest Management Ltd., chairman of the New Hampshire Log-a-Load Committee. “It brings together industry and landowner members in an activity that many of us love to do anyway, so doing it to benefit CHaD was just icing on the cake.”