Another View - Jim Roche: 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.

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