New Hampshire Logging Industry Rallies Against Governor’s Biomass Veto

Rallying Thursday, supporters of New Hampshire’s biomass industry made one message clear: the crunch is on. Plant operators, loggers, mayors and politicians have railed against Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of a subsidy for biomass plants since it was issued June 19. But with days left before lawmakers convene Sept. 13 to reconsider vetoed bills, advocates […]

Rallying Thursday, supporters of New Hampshire’s biomass industry made one message clear: the crunch is on. Plant operators, loggers, mayors and politicians have railed against Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of a subsidy for biomass plants since it was issued June 19. But with days left before lawmakers convene Sept. 13 to reconsider vetoed bills, advocates say it’s time to ramp up the pressure on individual lawmakers.

On Thursday, more than a hundred supporters – in suits, T-shirts and logging gear – crammed into a corner of the State House lawn to add voice to that pressure. “Governors make mistakes,” said Sen. Bob Giuda, R-Warren. “This is one of them.”

The bill, Senate Bill 365, would have mandated that New Hampshire utility companies purchase a set amount of energy from the state’s biomass plants, which burn wood chips supplied by loggers from low-grade wood. Those plants have struggled to stay competitive in recent years amid a surge of cheap natural gas and supporters said the bill would create an important lifeline to an industry that employs many and adds to energy diversity.

Sununu and other opponents said the purchase requirements amounted to an unfair subsidy of an uncompetitive energy source that would drive everyone’s electricity rates up. In vetoing the bill, the governor said he was standing up for ratepayers and businesses, who already face some of the highest electricity rates in the country.

The veto had near-instant industry ramifications. Within a week, three New Hampshire biomass plants announced they would no longer be purchasing wood chips from timber suppliers and would be suspending or limiting operations until Legislature decided whether to overturn the veto in September. Industry representatives quickly began warning of job losses for plant workers and loggers, many based in the North Country.

Read more on this from the Concord Monitor at https://www.concordmonitor.com/New-Hampshire-Biomass-supporters-make-final-push-for-Sununu-veto-override-19977519.

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