Lawmakers approve $2.5M for Concord school's steam conversion
"The state will give the Concord School District $2.5 million to help defray the costs of transitioning from Concord Steam if a plan approved by Senate budget writers becomes law.
The Senate Finance Committee gave initial approval to the funding Friday, with one senator saying it’s not the district’s fault it has to change heating sources. “The state was a vendor of heat and then they screwed up management of the thing,” said Republican Sen. John Reagan, who represents Deerfield, a town that sends some of its students to Concord High.
The Concord School District already has approved spending $9 million to convert Concord High School, Rundlett Middle School, Christa McAuliffe School and Abbot-Downing School to natural gas heat in preparation for Concord Steam’s closure at the end of the month. The project is underway and expected to be completed by October, but there have been some side effects. Demolition of the high school’s heat supply lines began at the start of May. Due to a lack of heat, temperatures at the school dipped into the 50s earlier this month.
“We had some chilly days earlier this month and that was kind of tough for staff and students,” said Superintendent Terri Forsten.
The district sought financial assistance from the education department last fall to cover the transition. But the emergency funding was denied after the state fire marshal determined the situation wasn’t “imminent danger.”
“We obviously saw that very differently,” Forsten said. “We saw not having heat or hot water as an emergency.”
The Concord School Board approved a $12 million bond to cover the new infrastructure needed to switch heat sources and to pay for three additional projects, including a technology upgrade, new buses and renovating a child care center.
The state financial assistance was proposed by Reagan and Concord Sen. Dan Feltes, who has advocated for aid to local businesses and nonprofits affected by the closure of the city’s lone steam producer.
Earlier this month, the Public Utilities Commission denied a proposal to establish a $1 million fund that would help customers cover the costs of transitioning to natural gas."
"Concord Steam was put out of business by the State. It's part of a larger scheme involving Pelham, Lebanon, Concord and Keene to establish "need" for another fracked gas pipeline. Berkshire Gas is engaged in similar initiatives in Western Mass. This was a "top down" project that never got the financial or enviromental impact studies it deserved. Leadership from both parties sent the message that there should be no questioning, just vote as you're told. The management for DAS who led the charge on this are both gone now and the people of New Hampshire are left holding the bag."
- Pat Martin
"Construction where Concord High School will be producing its own [fracking] heat and hot water before the next heating season."
New Hampshire's State House and Capitol City buildings should be the energy efficiency flagships of the state, powered by clean solar and wind energy, becoming a point of pride, progress and prestige.
SCHOOLS AND YOUTH IN NH
This was an epic failure. This giant leap backwards was a shameful decision made by legislators of both parties. Massachusetts and Vermont schools embrace solar panels and wind turbines, a visible reminder each day of the innovative technologies that will provide opportunities for students, a daily affimation that their education is relevant.Fracked gas in our schools is a slap in the face to the generations coming up. Why would young people want to stay in the Granite State, work, play and raise families here when innovation is feared, when personal profit and re-election takes precedent over progress?
WATCH, LISTEN, LEARN, ACT. DEMAND CHANGE.
If we allow it, it will keep happening. The legislators pushing Concord Steam were questioned, their numbers and motives challenged. They answered respectful constituent emails with demeaning responses meant to discourage further action. They looked us in the face and said we'd had our turn to speak and that was enough. They moved forward and the people let them.
Are you watching what's happening across the state? Liberty Utilities is slithering around finding ways to entrench themselves into the lives of Granite Staters, fundraising with and approved by pipeline-pushing Governor Sununu. You're being set up New Hampshire. We are not a carbon corridor, but that's their vision for the future.
On Monday night at 6:30 pm at City Hall in Keene, Liberty Utilities will be heard by the Planning Board, where they're pushing another fracked gas maneuver. If you're in the Monadnock Region, come listen, learn and be active in the energy decisions being made across the state."
- Stephanie Scherr