By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Republican Sen. Bob Giuda is pushing for the House and Senate to override Gov. Chris Sununu’s Friday veto of House Bill 183 that would have helped six woodchip-burning electricity plants in New Hampshire.
The bill required electric distribution companies such as Eversource to purchase baseload renewable generation credits from eligible biomass facilities, according to the bill, which are mostly shuttered without the subsidy.
It also would have established a committee to study the applications of microgrids in New Hampshire and changes in law necessary to allow for microgrids in electricity supply.
“We’re going to see if we can get the votes to do that,” Giuda said Wednesday of the potential for an override. Giuda said he thought it would be an easy sell in the Senate, but he wasn’t as sure about the House.
Sununu said in his veto message that the subsidy would cost $20 million in ratepayer electricity costs a year for three years.
“This bill creates another immense subsidy for NH independent biomass plants, the third such bill sent to me in as many years,” Sununu said in his veto message.
“This bill picks winners and losers in a competitive energy market. Furthermore, it harms the most vulnerable citizens for the benefit of a select few,” Sununu said.
His spokesman didn’t respond when asked for Sununu’s comments on a possible override.
Giuda said the small addition to customer bills each month, about $2.50, is worth saving 1,000 jobs in New Hampshire and the potential for developing a local New Hampshire power source.
The Business Industry Association supports Sununu’s veto.
Override day hasn’t been set yet, but will be sometime in September when the override vote could be brought forward in both the House and Senate.
“Eversource continues to get more and more rate increases without a whimper,” Giuda said. But the transmission costs are continuing to rise without the local supply of electricty, he said.
The plants are Indeck Alexandria, Bridgewater Power Company, Springfield Power Company, DG Whitefield, Pinetree Power Tamworth, and Pinetree Power Bethlehem.
House Speaker Steve Shurtleff, D-Concord, said, “I think it’ll be a close vote.
“…The Governor’s veto hurts a lot of people, especially in the North Country. I absolutely support the override. Biomass provides renewable energy from New Hampshire forests. Plus, it provides jobs all across the Granite State, especially in the North Country,” Shurtleff said.
Rep. Bob Backus, D-Manchester, chair of the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee criticized Sununu’s action right after he vetoed the bill.
“Governor 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.
“In response, an out of state lobbying group filed suit to block the intent of that law. HB 183 is only needed because of that lobbying firm’s attempts to derail last year’s legislation by tying it up in the courts. HB 183 will allow the original intent of the biomass bill to move forward, and it is critical that the legislature comes together again to override Governor Sununu’s veto,” Backus said.