Annual report shows results of conservation and restoration projects throughout the state
The eight conservation and restoration projects funded in 2016 by Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife are boasting significant results, according to the initiative’s 2016 annual report. The local organizations that received grant funding last year have opened 148 miles of streams, removed eight barriers to fish passage, assessed nearly 11,000 acres of forest, and restored 1,431 acres of forest. The effort also utilized the help of 230 volunteers, making these more than grant projects, but also community conservation programs.
Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife is the result of a partnership involving Eversource, Northern Pass and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Eversource, through its subsidiary Northern Pass, has committed $3 million to conservation and restoration of key habitats and species. Through Partners for NH’s Fish and Wildlife, NFWF works with a variety of stakeholders — private landowners, government agencies, academic institutions and conservation groups — to cultivate science-based conservation strategies and cost-effective on-the-ground projects. Since launching in 2015, Partners for NH’s Fish and Wildlife has funded a total of 17 projects that, including NFWF and grantee matches, resulted in $4.7 million dedicated to conservation and restoration in and around the state.
The 2016 projects include:
Restoring stream banks and improving forest management to benefit Eastern brook trout in Belknap County
Improving habitats for pollinators, including the monarch butterfly and various species of bees in transmission line corridors
Analyzing young forest restoration and management to ensure best practices are being used to protect conservation-priority species, including New England cottontail, golden-winged warbler, prairie warbler, blue-winged warbler, Eastern towhee and brown thrasher The Partners for NH’s Fish and Wildlife Annual report is now available online at http://www.nfwf.org/eversourcepartners. It includes a summary of all the 2016 grant initiatives. Later this year, the Partners will also include information about 2017 grants, made available through a request for proposals (RFP) process.
An update to the Northern Pass economic and environmental analysis shows that the project will reduce wholesale energy costs in New Hampshire by $63 million annually, and eliminate up to 3.2 million tons of carbon emissions in the region each year. The wholesale energy price reductions will ultimately flow to customers as retail energy cost savings. The significant reduction in emissions will help New England states achieve clean air goals.
“…LEI’s modeling update demonstrates that Northern Pass will deliver significant benefits to ratepayers in the form of lower electricity costs, carbon emissions reduction, and a more efficient system…”
London Economics International Updated Analysis, February 2017
The study, done by London Economics International (LEI) and filed with the NH Site Evaluation Committee as part of the project’s ongoing state permitting process, provides an update to a 2015 LEI study that showed similar CO2 emission reductions and average regional economic savings of about $800 million annually.
New Hampshire consumers will:
• Not pay any costs associated with Northern Pass
• Receive hundreds of millions of benefits unique to NH
• Save about $63 million
ISO-NE report reveals closing of nuclear plants caused increase in fossil fuel use
For nearly a decade, New England had been making strides in reducing air pollution and lowering carbon emissions from power plants. Adding more generation powered by natural gas, which has lower emissions than other fossil fuels, as well as using more renewable sources of energy, had helped in the decline. But a study released recently by the regional grid operator, ISO New England, shows that the trend in reducing carbon emissions has begun to reverse, largely due to closing nuclear plants and using natural gas and other fossil fuels to replace the low-carbon power source.
Between 2014 and 2015, New England saw a 15 percent decrease in production of low-carbon energy. This drop is due to the loss of more than 600 megawatts from the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. During that same period, natural gas-fired generation increased by about 12 percent. While natural gas has lower emissions than some other energy sources, a lack of supply of natural gas during winter months forced the grid operators to turn to higher-emitting sources. This includes oil-fired generation, which increased production by 10 percent last year and contributed to the up-tick in CO2 emissions.
“The increase (in oil-fired power) came largely in January, February, and March — the same months that natural gas-fired generation made its lowest contributions for the year,” ISO New England said in a statement. “This phenomenon largely reflects winter-time constraints on the interstate pipelines bringing natural gas into the region.”
Northern Pass has long advocated for the addition of clean, base load power from Canadian hydropower to offset the loss of generation the region has seen in recent years and to diversify its energy mix. Northern Pass will ensure a constant flow of power when New England needs it, including during winter months when natural gas supplies are strained.
For more information on the increase in carbon emissions and the state of the regional grid, go to the ISO New England website.