While New Hampshire is not rich in local energy resources, our environmental beauty and clean natural surroundings are admired across the country. How to meet our future energy needs as a State in harmony with our attractive natural environment while facing the climate crisis?
In a 1999 book titled “Natural Capitalism,” Paul Hawken and others identified the enormous value of environmental services that our natural environment provides for free. If we were to pay for nature’s services to clean stale air, filter pollution from our soil, treat our water until it is naturally pure, and filter out the harmful effects of the sun, we would be costly. However, nature can only provide such services as long as its cleaning capacity is not overwhelmed by too heavy a load imposed by pollution and other environmental constraints. The world, our country and our state, however, have reached this breaking point. If we want to preserve our natural environment and also provide energy for our needs, we must do so in a sustainable manner.
The good news is that New Hampshire has untapped energy resources which, if used wisely, can provide us with a sustainable future while protecting our natural habitats. Unlike fossil fuels, renewables are free forever. Once installed, renewable energy sources have minimal costs. In addition, renewable energy resources do not pollute, will mitigate the effects of climate change and can provide us with energy in a sustainable process for many years to come. Solar, wind, hydropower and biomass all represent energy resources that have not been sufficiently supported by state policy makers.
The opportunity to build a clean energy economy that will boost economic development and jobs across our state while reducing pollution and protecting our environment is so clearly within our grasp – if only state policies. could be fully implemented to support the growing market demand for clean energy.
Sadly, New Hampshire once again finds itself in the unenviable position of last place in the New England region in a variety of energy measures, including energy efficiency and the deployment of solar installations. The constant failure to invest in energy efficiency initiatives means our neighboring states dramatically reduce their energy demand, while New Hampshire leaves those savings on the table year after year. This political failure is having a measurable impact on the citizens of our state, as the percentage share of transmission costs that we all share as consumers of the New England six-state power grid is shifted to New Hampshire and far away. from other states, which means more money out of the pockets of Granite State taxpayers.
Responsibly developed offshore wind is the biggest lever we can pull to tackle the climate crisis and move New England away from fossil fuels while strengthening our local economy, protecting our taxpayers, creating good jobs. paid and improving public health by reducing carbon pollution. Other countries around the world have proven that offshore wind can meet the need for clean and reliable power generation while protecting biodiversity and ocean species.
It is time for the United States to join in this effort, and recent announcements by the Biden administration provide a promising roadmap for a goal of deploying 30 GW (30,000 MW) of offshore wind by 2030, this which represents an investment of 12 billion dollars per year made in Mars. These investments should generate enough electricity to meet the demand of more than 10 million households while generating more than 44,000 jobs linked to the deployment of offshore wind power.
The Gulf of Maine offers an unprecedented opportunity for offshore wind development that will benefit New Hampshire and the entire New England region. Wind resources in the region are highly reliable, and facilities such as the Pease Tradeport as well as the eventual development of the port will stimulate economic activity while supporting the industry’s new supply chains.
New Hampshire’s natural environment is a key economic driver, as tourism is the state’s second-largest source of income. The development of necessary new sources of energy can and should coexist with New Hampshire’s precious environment, and renewable resources such as solar, wind and biomass pass this important test. It is high time for policy makers to support our residents by reducing energy costs, creating economic opportunities and jobs, and protecting the environment by investing in renewable energy sources.
Rob Werner is the New Hampshire State Director, League of Conservation Voters. Peter Somssich of Portsmouth represents District 27 of New Hampshire House. The opinions expressed are those of the authors.