October 24, 2019

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Latest News, New Hampshire

Sununu’s “Blow To The North Country” Causes Biomass Workers To Lose Jobs

 

Two biomass plants are shuttering because New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s vetoed a bipartisan bill guaranteeing the plants’ operations for three more years.

The industry is an important source of energy for the state and “is the straw that stirs the drink of the North Country economy.” Even Republican state Senator David Starr said Sununu’s veto was “a blow to the North Country.”

On a similar bill last year, Sununu’s veto was estimated to cost over 1,000 jobs, over $250 million in economic activity, and would have eliminated 100 megawatts of energy. Since the legislature failed to override Sununu’s veto this year, the damage is only beginning.

“Chris Sununu’s reckless veto is harming North Country families,” said DGA Communications Director David Turner. “With two biomass plants closing, Sununu’s failed leadership is costing New Hampshire jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity. Instead of helping Granite State families, Sununu plays political games and sabotages their livelihoods.”

Read more about how Sununu is wreaking havoc on one of the North Country’s critical industries:

Biomass Magazine: 2 New Hampshire biomass energy plants close

Two of New Hampshire’s six independent biomass energy plants—Springfield Power and DG Whitefield—announced in mid-October that they are closing and will lay off staff. Each plant employs 20 full-time workers in rural Springfield and Whitefield, New Hampshire. The plants had been in operation since the mid-1980s.

The plants announced the closures after the New Hampshire legislature failed to override Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of House Bill 183, which passed both the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan majorities and which would have guaranteed the plants’ continued operation for at least three years.

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According to a 2016 economic analysis by Plymouth State University, the six independent biomass power plants covered in HB 183 support 931 jobs in total, counting direct staff positions and jobs at supporting companies such as equipment suppliers, gas stations, and local restaurants, and produce $254.5 million in annual economic activity. Moreover, biomass power plants consume more than 40 percent of all the low-grade timber harvested each year in New Hampshire.

Union Leader: Biomass workers get the ax: Concord split on how to help

The two plants, in Whitefield and Springfield, stopped buying wood in April. The plants are closing in part because a bill to support them did not survive the last legislative session.

In August, Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a bill that would have required electric utilities to buy power from New Hampshire’s six biomass power plants. The bill had been passed with support from both Republican and Democratic legislators, but there were not enough votes to override Sununu’s veto. A similar law passed in 2018 over Sununu’s veto, but a lawsuit stopped its implementation.