[A text-only version of the Foreword is below. Click here to see the full 60-page version with graphics, or cut and paste thus URL in your browser. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YpU_U48Qpj4nCM0f0CC4d2fcCiWG40SVCzQWyXsWJj0/edit?usp=sharing]
A Renewable Energy Future for New Hampshire
An Action Plan with a Focus on Demand and Consumption
( Oct. 13, 2020 )
Foreword (Robert Backus, Peter Somssich, Ken Wells)
The best time to plan for the future is now. Despite our current issues surrounding our health in the pandemic and our severely depressed economy, we nevertheless must not fail to plan for our children and grandchildren’s future, and that of our state of New Hampshire.
In 2018 many of this paper’s authors were involved in producing the white paper: “A 100% Renewable Energy Strategy for New Hampshire’s Future”. Its purpose was to be a counterpoint to the “New Hampshire’s 10-Year State Energy Strategy Plan” issued by the Governor’s office in April 2018. We felt that the plan was grossly inadequate and just endorsement of the status quo. Our white paper was intended as a tool to inventory all of the NH home grown renewable energy resources that our state already had available. Our state has many realistic opportunities to increase our readily available renewable energy supplies, with offshore wind installations and importation of onshore wind and hydropower. Our 2018 white paper also emphasized the desirability of increasing energy efficiency by all users. It focused primarily on in-state electricity generation and usage. But electricity generation accounts for only 45% of the energy that our state produces annually. In this 2020 Action Plan we will focus instead on the much larger amount of energy that is consumed in New Hampshire, which is about evenly split between transportation, residential power and home heating, and commercial plus industrial consumption.
In this 2020 Action Plan, we will outline a framework for a comprehensive energy plan. We will discuss why certain components are important to such a framework, and what actions have already been undertaken, or should be undertaken to promote a path to a 100% clean, renewable energy future for our state.
A framework for action on our state’s total energy demand must begin with a vigorous attempt to reduce our energy use for electricity, heating and transportation. Since such actions will have an impact on our state utilities, we must find ways of providing the kind of incentives to them that encourage them to partner with us in such an effort. Hand in hand with our effort to reduce our energy demand, we must support in-state development of renewable energy sources, whether by industrial users, municipalities or residential/community efforts. All energy generators using renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass, should be allowed to sell their energy at a fair price into the main grid. In parts of our state where the energy resources and demand are poorly matched, forming collaborative microgrids or “energy islands” could allow adjacent municipalities or regional entities to cooperate. By creating a local microgrid, they will be able to attract new and support existing businesses, while creating new jobs and reducing the financial burden to taxpayers of the combined municipalities. Furthermore, pursuing the possibility of using energy storage facilities to complement intermittent energy generators, allowing energy to be stored for that time when it is most needed, must be part of any New Hampshire energy independence and reliability effort. Our vision of New Hampshire’s transportation system must also change to anticipate more electric cars and trucks, as well as vehicles powered by compressed gases such as propane and hydrogen.
During the past two years the NH legislature has attempted to promote numerous initiatives to move us forward on our path to a renewable future. Unfortunately, most of these efforts were blocked as the result of partisan politics and a resistance to change. Any action plan needs to recognize the political and practical realities in New Hampshire, so that we know how to begin. Most of us can agree that a clean, renewable and sustainable energy future is our common goal that we all share. However, different people define the terms “clean”, “renewable” and “sustainable” somewhat differently, so the co-editors suggest that we begin work to standardize our language about these concepts. For example, a “renewable” energy source should be one that, with proper management, will not be depleted over time and will continue to be available. Such a definition precludes fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, and also nuclear energy as it is currently deployed. A “sustainable” energy source is one that will continue to be available, at a price including externalities such as health and environmental impacts, that society deems affordable. That is why an energy source with volatile prices, that faces depletion, or builds up a toxic waste product is not sustainable. Finally, most people would agree that a “clean energy” source is one that neither generates climate-endangering greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. CO2 or methane) nor creates any other hazardous consequences.
Because not all of the authors agree on the preceding definitions, and because we wish to be practical with our recommendations for actions, some of the proposals related to energy may not seem to be in total harmony with an action plan which hopes to have as its goal, not just a clean energy future, but a 100% sustainable and renewable energy future for our state. However, one area where we all agree completely is the great potential inherent in Energy Efficiency in improving all aspects related to energy. We want to emphasize that a renewable energy future continues to be our goal, but our long journey must begin from our current reality.
We have recruited a group of authors with specific knowledge and expertise in energy topics, to explain the importance of these areas for our state, and to suggest actions that effectively address those areas. This action plan does not represent a consensus view of all the topics discussed, but gives voice to several points of view that are part of clean energy’s political reality. That is why the author of each contributed section is clearly identified; they are representing their own view. When a specific author is not listed, that section was contributed by the coeditors, using the various sources cited. Despite these shortcomings, we believe this action plan provides a good resource for policy-makers and lawmakers to use in setting a course toward our energy future. The authors recognize that climate change is already occurring and prompt adaptation to this fact is imperative. But they also see adaptation as a positive economic opportunity, because New Hampshire's aspiration to a 100% renewable energy goal will bring new opportunities and benefits to all the people of New Hampshire, while mitigating and perhaps helping to reverse the global effects of climate change.
The cheapest watt of energy is a "negawatt" - a watt of energy saved. Because that saved watt was not lost, was not purchased, and was not produced, energy efficiency produces “negawatts” that are the lowest-hanging fruit available to us.
- Reps Balch & Mann
KDW for the Beacon Oct 15, 2020
As I write this, we are on the brink of what I’m sure will go down as one of the most-talked-about elections of our time.
The United States of America, despite its struggles and faults, is arguably the oldest and most successful democracy on the planet today. A crucial feature has been our long tradition of expanding free and fair elections to all our citizens, regardless of race, gender or socio-economic standing. It has not been a smooth road, however. To ensure that all of us can continue to participate in the voting that is central to our democratic republic, all citizens should take an active role in our democracy and vote!
Your vote DOES matter!
If you are a person who has never voted before, whether you have recently reached voting age, or recently become a naturalized citizen of the United States, or have simply never chosen to exercise your right, now is the time to play your consequential role in this important process. There is same-day registration at the polls; just bring your ID (proof of age, domicile and citizenship) and ask the friendly poll workers to guide you to the Supervisor of the Checklist.
New Hampshire Leads the Way
New Hampshire is justifiably proud of its important leadership in the process of choosing our leaders and policymakers, and in underscoring the power of the people in ensuring the smooth transfer of power from one election cycle to the next. New Hampshire is well known for hosting the first-in-the-nation primaries, which affords anyone who wishes to get involved an unsurpassed opportunity to meet the prospective candidates of every party, ask them questions directly, and inform them of our views on issues that are important to us. This last one is perhaps the most unique opportunity we have in our state - as the first voters candidates see on the campaign trail, we get to influence the candidates’ stump speeches and platforms in their earliest, formative stages.
There is another reason we New Hampshirites can take pride - we have about the highest voter turnout in the nation, according to electproject.org. Of all the states, only Minnesota consistently bested New Hampshire’s admirable 72.5% turnout of eligible voters in the past three presidential elections. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner takes pride in this figure, saying his goal has been to make New Hampshire the easiest state in the Union to cast your vote in.
Cast your Vote!
It is important that every American citizen casts their one ballot and participates personally in our “government of the people, by the people and for the people”. Be an informed voter, and fill in your choices for all 14 offices on the ballot. Here in Andover many volunteers have been working hard for months to enable us to do just that. The New Hampshire Attorney General reviewed the Andover team’s work for the September primary election and deemed it “an excellent operation.” Since this spring, there have been months of teleconference discussions and training between the NH Secretary of State’s office and the sworn moderators, town clerks and supervisors of the checklist of all 221 towns and 13 cities in New Hampshire.
The widest possible range of options were made available for Andover voters to cast their ballots:
⁃ You could vote in-person on November 3 while wearing a mask, using the north door of the Andover Elementary / Middle School polling place.
⁃ You could vote in-person without a mask, using the south door of the AEMS polling place.
⁃ You could vote early by requesting a ballot to be mailed to you, and then returning the ballot either by bringing it directly to the Town Clerk or through the mail. (However, it must arrive by 5pm on Nov 3 to be counted!)
⁃ You could use the drive-through voting option offered on October 24 or 31 at Andover Town Hall.
⁃ Absentee ballots can also be obtained and cast at the curbside voting station on Election Day.
Note that the official ballot and absentee ballots are identical. Every ballot is marked “Absentee Ballot and Official Ballot” and is placed in the ballot box before counting begins. Care has been taken that your right to vote by “secret ballot” has been protected.
As COVID-19 has necessitated further expansion of our right to free and fair elections, the state of New Hampshire has responded promptly and conscientiously. In every case, the customary checks and security measures are observed to ensure that each voter is on the Andover voters checklist, or that new voters have gone through the usual process involving identification and voter registration. New Hampshire’s election procedures, and particularly Andover’s all-paper secret ballot system are the result of literally centuries of experience in making democracy work. Be sure to be part of it and VOTE!
Ken Wells represents Andover, Danbury and Salisbury in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.