by Bill Baber
Not many months ago, the rate for electric power was just over 10 cents per kwh where I live. Now it is over 22 cents. Eversource has informed the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that commercial rates could be close to 49 cents in January.
The rate increases are a direct result of the increased cost of natural gas. What amazes me is, according to the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA), we only generate 25% of our power from natural gas. Could this be right? 25% of our power driving a potentially 500% increase in rates? Yup, the PUC found sufficient evidence that the market price of gas warranted the rate increase.
Well, maybe it is just this one wacky year of exorbitant prices, but we have nuclear and renewables aplenty to fall back on, right? New Hampshire does produce over half of its power from Seabrook, but Seabrook is over 30 years old and the basic design is probably over 50 years old. Hmmm
Okay, but aren’t we awash in solar, wind, and hydro? Hardly. Only 7% of our power comes from hydro dams that average over 80 years in age (N.H. Municipal Association), and wind blows in at only 3%, while solar is a sad 1% (EIA.)
Now we all agree that we need to do something about greenhouse gas emissions, right? No, well please speak with one of your fisherman, farmer, or ski operator friends about the impact they are experiencing from the changing climate. And shouldn’t we be planning to replace these aging power sources with a diverse mixture of new generation production that doesn’t pollute? You might think so.
Looks like we are all set for the future! Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. So why is that? The most important single fact is that when New Hampshire has been governed by Republicans, they have acted like they were looking into the future using a mirror and discovered the fuels of the past century. Might it have something to do with the very substantial flow of fossil fuel funds into their campaigns? Who’s to say? Whatever the reason, these decisions have put us in a pickle.
This need not, and should not, be the case. All of our neighboring states are aggressively implementing renewable energy, investing in energy efficiency, and electric vehicle charging infrastructures. They will be benefiting from knowing they are doing their part for the environment while also benefiting from fixed costs for power, lowering dependence on the importation of power and fuel, ensuring EV driving tourists will not choose other destinations (50% of new vehicles will be EVs by 2030 - McKinsey) while creating numerous good paying local jobs in the process.
New Hampshire’s path forward is in your hands. We can follow our current path paved by special interests, or we can choose a path for which your children will be forever grateful. If you want the latter, act accordingly and vote Democratic this November.
About the author
Bill is an active Dover Democrat who serves on the Dover Dems’ Executive Committee, the Communications Team, and leads the Energy and Environment Action Group. He currently chairs Dover’s Energy Commission. Bill was a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and served as the ranking member of the Science, Technology, and Energy Committee. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He retired from the University of New Hampshire where he last served as an Associate Director of Academic Computing. Sailing, kayaking, and hiking with his wife, Kristine, are what he enjoys most.