New Hampshire residents have a long history of supporting environmentally responsible policy and being ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to addressing the challenges of climate change. The state is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and it supports using more renewable energy sources.
Recently, Entergy Corporation announced it will cease operations at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant next year, taking its 600 megawatts of carbon-free energy production out of the New England power grid. On Sunday, Entergy’s Pilgrim nuclear plant in Massachusetts was taken offline for a second time in three weeks because of a steam leak, temporarily removing its nearly 700 megawatts of carbon-free energy production out of the power grid system.
Because natural gas is the predominant power fuel in the region, the temporary shutdown of Pilgrim and the soon-to-be permanent loss of Vermont Yankee will result in an even greater reliance on natural gas and a related increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
We recently wrote a journal post about Vermont Yankee and its effect on the region’s growing dependence on natural gas. This past winter, newspapers from the New York Times to the New Hampshire Union Leader also wrote about the region’s heavy reliance on natural gas and the concern of ISO New England that it could drive up electricity costs and put the reliability of the region’s power grid at risk.
We believe the hydroelectric energy transmitted by the Northern Pass will provide much-needed diversity, lessening price volatility and the chance of spot shortages. It will bring into the region 1,200 megawatts of clean, renewable energy, which would more than off-set the loss of Vermont Yankee, and it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 5 million tons annually; the equivalent of taking 900,000 cars off the road.
We aren’t the only ones who agree that Canadian hydropower will bring us cleaner air and reduced carbon emissions. In 2009, we saw representatives from the business community, environmental and conservation groups and the energy industry come together and craft a comprehensive New Hampshire Climate Action Plan that was meant to guide state policy in future years.
In that plan, a majority of members recommended building high voltage power lines connecting New Hampshire to hydropower plants in Canada. Page 44 of the Climate Action Task Force’s final report notes:
“To the extent that it reduces or does not raise electricity rates to the consumer, high voltage transmission lines should be built to import clean power generated from Canadian hydro and wind sources as a complementary policy to developing non-CO2-emitting generation in New Hampshire.”
President of NH Renewable Energy Policy Development Gary A. Long said the Northern Pass will move New Hampshire and the region toward a cleaner and more stable energy future. As we continue to see an over-reliance on a single fossil fuel, it is more important than ever to consider our energy future and support projects like Northern Pass.
*This post was revised to include the direct quote from the New Hampshire Climate Action Plan