NH'S ENERGY REALITY with Patricia Martin

Pat gives utility and fossil fuel pushing lobbyists that deer-in-the-headlights look when they know the truth is about to be exposed.

Have you heard again and again that NH's electricity rates are too high, that we need a pipeline, Northern Pass or Granite State Power Link to reduce our energy costs? Have you heard that we need more energy, that we could have brown or black outs? Pat's here to debunk a tornado of untruths and bring clarity to NH's energy needs.

Patricia Martin

Pat is ECHO Action's Energy Policy Coordinator. She is the Chair of the Rindge Energy Commission, a member of the Public Utilities Commission Grid Modernization working group, a citizen participant in the Consumer Advocate's Residential Ratepayers Advisory Board and a retired engineer. She is dedicated to energy efficiency and a clean energy future. She inhales the data that utilities, corporations and government use to justify energy projects, examines it, analyzes how it's been shaken, stirred and mixed, breaks down the numbers and exhales NH's energy reality.

Letter to the editor

Patricia Martin

Letter to the Editor, Keene Sentinel 5/19/17

Dear Editor,


On Monday night, Keene's Planning Board will hear Liberty Utility’s plan to construct a temporary CNG/LNG decompression plant on Production Avenue.


I understand that the Propane/Air system is decades old and should be updated.  If you're a Liberty customer, having the utility invest in upgrading the lines and feeder plant makes sense. 


The difficult truth though is that when Liberty builds that final permanent plant, it will also be there for decades.  To me, it is capitulation.


Keene has been a leader in sustainability.  Keene uses biodiesel for its fleets.  Keene uses methane from landfills to heat its buildings.  The College heats with 100% cleaned vegetable oil for a large share of its campus. 

Why shouldn't Keene join Hanover in committing to being 100% fossil free by 2050? 


I encourage people to visit the Efficiency Maine website and use their fuel comparison calculator.  It is very likely that an air source heat pump will be a better long term choice for heating than natural gas.  In all other regions of the United States, the EIA reports that use of natural gas for heating has fallen in favor of heat pumps.  Only the Northeast is using more natural gas.


And here’s the sad truth…


Liberty is working to justify a pipeline.  It is expanding service in Lebanon, Pelham, Keene and Concord.  In a letter to the PUC, Liberty asked for an extension on filing its Least Cost Integrated Resource Plan because it's going to be announcing a "new source of supply or capacity."  They were given an extension until August. 


Of course, even with all the increase in demand that Liberty hopes to show, the number of customers it has in New Hampshire will never cover the cost of a pipeline.  Berkshire Gas is doing something very similar in Western Mass.  I predict that the capacity of the pipeline will be justified by export contracts and the “need” by critical shortages in Liberty (and Berkshire Gas) territories.


The PUC has issued an order on Liberty’s latest rate case.  In the rate case, Liberty petitions to make Keene an official part of Liberty.   A consequence of that is that distribution rates in Keene will drop about $10 per month for the average household and go up about the same amount for its other customers.  The price of the actual gas is separate from the distribution charges.  The PUC’s order presses the pause button on the rate change and calls for public hearings.   


From a financial angle, this looks like a “win” for Keene, but is it?  Do you think gas prices will stay low when LNG exports take off?  Keene is brimming with smart people who believe we need to move to a clean energy economy.  I hope they are paying attention.



Patricia A. Martin

THe unwind

Patricia Martin

UNION LEADER: Letters to the Editor

Responding to the BIA

April 20. 2017 5:39PM

To the Editor: I’m writing in response to an article by Jim Roche, “New Hampshire needs to stop tilting at windmills.”

In fact, our wholesale electricity supply prices are at record lows and NH consumes only half of the power it produces. The pain in our electric rates comes from stranded costs, above market Power Purchase Agreements, and the highest transmission rates in the nation. It’s no surprise that the BIA pushes pipelines since its “energy committee” is funded in part by the American Petroleum Institute.

It defies logic why ISO-NE is quoted in defense of more pipelines and generation capacity. We pay the highest (twice) transmission rates in the nation, had a catastrophe in 2013-2014 when ISO-NE wouldn’t contract for LNG as part of the Winter Reliability Program, and we are the last RTO to implement FERC Order 1000 that would make transmission projects subject to competitive bidding.

Most companies use competitive suppliers for their energy, but they’re still saddled with outrageous demand and transmission costs. The BIA suggests their member companies have implemented every possible energy efficiency measure. Perhaps the BIA should conduct a survey of their membership to quantify that? I know state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark has also asked for that data.

Are BIA member companies aware that the BIA lobbies against nearly every bill supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy and for major infrastructure projects built at ratepayer expense? It says it believes in an “all of the above” strategy, but its legislative testimony says otherwise.




Jim Roche

UNION LEADER: Another View

NH needs to stop tilting at windmills

April 13, 2017

"The fictional character Don Quixote maintained a staunchly hopeful attitude in his gallant adventures. His comportment reminds me of those who think New Hampshire and New England can solve our electrical energy cost crisis by simply investing more in energy efficiency and renewable energy like wind and solar. Like Don Quixote, they are tilting at windmills.

New Hampshire’s electrical energy prices are consistently 50-60 percent higher than the rest of the contiguous United States. Year-round, not just during the winter months. This is a fact. On top of high costs, “existing natural gas pipelines are inadequate to serve growing peak demand for heating and power generation needs in the winter,” according to the New England’s Independent System Operator (ISO New England,) a not-for-profit, independent agency charged with ensuring availability of competitively-priced wholesale electricity by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. New England is increasingly dependent upon natural gas for electric generation. In 2000, 15 percent of electricity production came from burning natural gas. Today that figure is close to 50 percent. Our situation becomes more precarious over the next few years. That’s because more than 30 percent of the region’s other, traditional sources of electric power (burning coal and oil, and nuclear generation) are retiring or at risk of retiring.

The Business & Industry Association, New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce, supports an “all of the above” approach to meeting our energy needs. This includes energy efficiency and renewables such as wind and solar. Our manufacturing members (and businesses from all sectors of our economy) have long recognized cost-savings associated with energy efficiency. They’ve invested millions of dollars to tighten building envelopes (windows, doors, wall and roof insulation, etc.,) streamlined processes and systems for economies of scale, installed efficient HVAC and lighting systems, used efficient motors and machinery in production, and much more. The fact is, businesses have a very strong incentive to invest in every method of efficiency to make their operations more cost-effective and competitive. They’ve been doing this for years.

A growing number of BIA members are also investing in renewable energy. But the fact is, wind and solar account for just 3 percent of the region’s generating capacity in spite of strong federal and state financial incentives. Until cost-effective battery storage technology advances, or the sun never sets and wind always blows, it will be a long time before these kinds of renewables are able to meet our energy needs. Energy efficiency and renewables by themselves are woefully inadequate to meet our near-term electrical energy needs. In the meantime, businesses are making decisions affecting our economy.

With 400 leading employers in our membership, we hear from businesses all the time about plans for growth outside New Hampshire. To be sure, high electricity bills alone are not the only factor in determining where companies grow, but it is a factor, and a big one for manufacturers. 

Manufacturing is our most important economic sector by nearly all economic measures in contribution to gross state product, employee compensation, exports, subcontracts, jobs, and more. Manufacturers use lots of electricity to make their products.

It’s one of their biggest inputs. Many other states, often where New Hampshire manufacturers have sister locations, boast electrical energy prices that are half or less those in New Hampshire. When our manufacturers grow elsewhere, or worse, shift jobs elsewhere, New Hampshire loses.

The near-term solution to our state’s and region’s electrical energy cost crisis is adding new energy infrastructure. While BIA has not endorsed any specific project, there is no question we need more electricity for our regional grid in order to lower prices. There is simply no way to energy-efficiency-and-renewable-energy our way out of this crisis. At least not before thousands of jobs are lost to more competitive areas of the country. Policymakers need to look beyond fantastical scenarios espoused by some and act to bring more energy into our region now."

Jim Roche

President of the Business & Industry Association

THe unwind

Patricia Martin

I've dedicated my retirement to helping New Hampshire achieve a sane and sustainable energy future. As an electrical engineer, I'm an avid student of statistics, legislation and Public Utilities Commission dockets related to energy policy.

Hence, it was with some dismay that I read the article, "Stability?  Meh. (When it comes to Electricity Costs)." I found a number of verifiable errors in fact.

For instance in the fifth paragraph, "That's because the majority of the energy New Hampshire consumes comes from outside the state." Where does he get that information?  Is he talking about electricity or energy (all fuels)? He offers no reference for this claim. And while it's true that natural gas, oil and coal are all imported to generate electricity and heat our homes, we have plenty of electricity generating capacity in New Hampshire!

Perhaps he tries to justify his claim in the next paragraph?  "As of November 2016, New Hampshire ranked 42 in total net electricity generated."

Please refer to the statistics at the eia.gov website I've linked here.  In fact, in 2015, NH's total generation was 20,015,893 MegaWatt Hours.  Our total retail sales were 10,999,149 MegaWatt Hours.  That means we produce nearly twice as much electricity as we consume in NH!  The fact that we rank 42 in terms of Net generation (Production - Consumption) is not in the least remarkable. We are a small state with a population of 1.3 million people. NH comprises only 10% of the total ISO-NE region's consumption, but 20% of it's generation. 


EIA - State Electricity Profiles

Energy Information Administration - EIA - Official Energy

Statistics from the U.S. Government


The author also completely misses the fact that our electricity transmission and generation is managed as part of the ISO-NE system.

I also take issue with his references to the businesses that plan to expand in other states like Georgia because of cheaper rates. I'm attaching a slide from a presentation I did for the Residential Ratepayers Advisory Board that shows NE states average residential monthly bills compared with those in the South Atlantic region. Note that while the rates in Georgia, for instance, are much lower than NH, they use more electricity and have higher average monthly electric bills. This is partly due to a warmer climate (more air conditioning) and partly due to the investment the New England region has made in Energy Efficiency. I don't have easy access to commercial or industrial data, but the recently published Carsey Perspectives research show that NH commercial monthly bills are much less than the national average.


Carsey Perspectives: New Hampshire’s Electricity Future

NH's energy future is now!


Unfortunately, this article gives an inaccurate picture of NH's energy situation.  


Anthony Paradiso

The article came out in print, but has not yet been made available online.


Do we need more fracked gas

in New Hampshire?


Business owners share clean energy success stories

Environmental Defense Fund Blog

Roger Stephenson, EDF’s senior adviser for New Hampshire affairs

April 20, 2017

"In New Hampshire, the clean energy economy is at a crossroads. On one hand, the legislature and governor remain ambivalent at best about clean energy and its role in our state moving forward. But local businesses are confident that renewable energy and energy efficiency choices already are making a positive impact. And many are calling for clean energy policies in the state to be strengthened.

Several owners were kind enough to share their time and explain what clean energy means to them and their businesses.  Through a series of videos, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is now sharing those stories with lawmakers, fellow business community leaders, and the clean energy sector.

Last fall, EDF sought out businesses that were growing, competing, and thriving in the Granite State with the help of existing clean energy policies. We worked closely with The Nature Conservancy, New Hampshire’s Community Development Finance Authority, and the NH Clean Tech Council.

The search did not take long: Manufacturers; restaurants; construction companies and hotels; advanced manufacturing facilities; and Main Street mom and pops are investing in their competitive future with clean energy.

Here are two samples of these enlightening clean energy videos.

Cormack Construction

In this video, Gordon Cormack explains how his Madison company – Cormack Construction, a medium-size general contracting and construction management company – is hedging against fossil fuel price volatility with electricity and heating powered by the sun.


Smuttynose  Brewing Company

Peter Egelston's sustainability journey began with energy efficiency incentives from his utility; his Smuttynose  Brewing Company facility is now LEED Gold certified, only the second brewery in the U.S. and the third industrial facility in New Hampshire to be recognized as such. Peter advises that more businesses need access to clean energy incentives and choice.


As we enter spring, New Hampshire lawmakers are divided on major clean energy policies like the Energy Efficiency Fund and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The public utilities commission is weighing the costs and benefits of large and small solar installations as it works to establish new net metering rules.  The Governor is re-directing priorities in his Office of Energy and Planning and will influence how the state’s 10-year energy strategy is updated and implemented.

Yet amidst this policy and political ambivalence, leaders in businesses large and small are voicing their desires, and demands, for clean energy choice and access. We’re listening, and our work with those businesses continues. We hope to continue sharing their stories with our elected leaders on these urgent issues, as well."

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Energy In New Hampshire blog

Mike Mooiman, Franklin Pierce University

April 15, 2017

Part 1  •  Part 2  •  Part 3