New England Governor Calls For ‘Paradigm Shift’ In Policy To Combat High Energy Bills

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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New Hampshire’s governor has unveiled an ambitious agenda intending to combat the rising cost of electricity and establish a more robust energy industry in the state.

On Tuesday, the New Hampshire Office of Strategic Initiatives released the state’s 10 Year State Energy Strategy. The underlying goal of the plan seeks to address rising energy costs in New Hampshire, which currently suffers from the third most expensive energy rates in the contiguous United States. In order to achieve lower energy prices and regain a competitive advantage, the proposal outlines a major shift to nuclear and natural gas — two sources of energy more efficient than renewables while also less polluting than oil or coal. Additionally, the 10-year-strategy seeks to avoid the path of neighboring New England states by not allotting large subsidies to wind and solar energy companies, arguing such programs distort market prices.

“New Hampshire has made great strides over the last year to re-invigorate our economy and to re-affirm our commitment to being open for business,” Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said in a Tuesday statement. “Short term political calculations of the past must give way to long-term investments for the future. We are working hard to lower our electricity rates — some of the highest in the nation — and today’s energy plan will chart New Hampshire’s course forward.”

All of New England suffers from exorbitant energy prices. Thanks in large part to years of progressive policies aimed at propping up inefficient renewable energy companies, New England area residents now pay 56 percent more for their energy bill than the national average. New Hampshire is hit especially hard, with the average resident shelling out $3,934 on energy costs in 2015.

Without a “paradigm shift” in public policy, cheaper energy prices in the state are not possible, the report stresses.

In 2016, nuclear power accounted for nearly 56 percent of the state’s energy; natural gas made up roughly 25 percent and renewables made up 17 percent. New Hampshire’s renewable portfolio standard is currently set at 25 percent renewable generation by 2025. The governor’s proposal calls for a redrafting of the portfolio standard to include nuclear energy as a renewable resource.

Joining a growing chorus of other leaders across the country, Gov. Sununu publicly recognized nuclear energy as a clean source of energy. Preserving the Seabrook Station — the state’s only nuclear plant — as a source of zero-carbon energy is the most “realistic and cost-effective” means of maintaining low emission levels, Sununu’s plan claims.

Additionally, New Hampshire leaders will re-examine subsidy programs such as net-metering, arguing other states have played favorites in the energy sector by subsiding solar and wind to the detriment of the economy. The report specifically called out Massachusetts as an example of a state with mismanaged subsidy programs.

The overlying goal is to create the most efficient strategy for energy production, relieving customers of sky-high bills while still maintaining low emissions targets.

“Our 10 Year Energy Strategy represents a new outlook for energy in New Hampshire. Our focus is first and foremost on New Hampshire’s ratepayers, with an emphasis on practical results and long-term planning. This plan provides a solid foundation for successful, cost-effective energy policy,” Office of Strategic Initiatives Director Jared Chicoine said in a statement Tuesday.

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