What will Northern Pass mean for local renewable energy?

Tom Irwin | @TomIrwinNH

Among the many questions CLF is asking about Northern Pass — the 180-mile transmission line proposed to transport 1,200 megawatts of hydro-generated power from HydroQuebec into New England — is what the project would mean for the development of local renewable energy in New Hampshire and New England.  With the recent introduction of HB 302 in the New Hampshire legislature — to be heard by the House Science, Technology & Energy Committee on February 8 — we soon may learn at least part of the answer to that question.

In 2007, New Hampshire passed its Renewable Portfolio Standards statute, or “RPS” — an important law to encourage the development of low-emission renewable energy sources in New Hampshire and New England.  The law requires that by 2025  nearly 25 percent of the electricity to be provided in New Hampshire must be generated by qualifying low-emission renewable sources — sources such as wind and small-scale hydro.

HB 302 seeks to change this important law by allowing large-scale hydropower — including large-scale hydropower from outside the region — to qualify as renewable.  Clearly intended to tilt the playing field in favor of the Northern Pass, HB 302 will greatly undermine one of the core purposes of New Hampshire’s RPS law: the stimulation of investment in renewable energy technologies in New England and, in particular, in New Hampshire.

The Northern Pass project developers have repeatedly claimed that they do not need and will not seek to change New Hampshire’s RPS law to benefit their project.  We intend to hold them to those claims.  The development of local renewable energy in New England is essential to building a clean energy economy for the region.  Join us in supporting a clean energy future for New Hampshire and New England by contacting members of the House Science, Technology & Environment Committee and voicing your opposition to HB 302.

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