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Sununu scorns biomass bill

NASHUA – The partisan battle on renewable energy continues in New Hampshire, as Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a Democratic bill that would have provided subsidies for the state’s biomass industry.

In New Hampshire, biomass primarily consists of forest residues. In other regions of the country, crop residues, algae, and other organic matter are used as primary sources of biomass, information from the state’s Office of Strategic Initiatives indicated.

The legislation, House Bill 183, would have also established a committee to study the applications of microgrids in New Hampshire and changes in law necessary to allow for microgrids in electrical supply.

“This bill creates another immense subsidy for New Hampshire’s independent biomass plants, the third such bill sent to me in as many years. It would cost New Hampshire ratepayers approximately $20 million a year over the next three years, on top of the existing subsidies that these plants already receive,” Sununu’s veto message states.

“This bill picks winners and losers in a competitive energy market. Furthermore, it harms our most vulnerable citizens for the benefit of a select few. I remain committed to advancing renewable energy generation and fuel diversity, but we must do so without unjustly burdening the ratepayers of New Hampshire.”

A 2018 report from the state’s Office of Strategic Initiatives concluded that New Hampshire’s biomass power generating facilities are:

• Less competitive than other forms of renewable power generation;

• Less flexible than intermittent renewables; and

“Are unlikely to become competitive generators without assistance from ratepayer-funded mechanisms.”

Still, Democrats believe biomass is a viable industry that can help New Hampshire generate electricity by consuming the material. State Rep. Bob Backus, D-Manchester, chairs the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee. He is hopeful the Legislature can override Sununu’s veto.

“Gov. Sununu is again demonstrating that he does not understand the value of biomass energy generation to hardworking families and dozens of industries across the state. Last session we overrode the governor’s veto on a bipartisan bill to help keep biomass facilities here in New Hampshire running,” Backus said.

“The biomass industry provides jobs in New Hampshire, supports millions of dollars in related industries, and helps keep electric bills low by supplying local energy.”

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