FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Adrienne Rupp
Business and Industry Association
Office: 603.224.5388 x114
BIA letter to JLCAR: New energy project siting rules recommended by SEC overly burdensome
CONCORD, N.H. - Oct. 15, 2015 - On Wednesday, Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire President Jim Roche sent a letter to members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules regarding proposed energy project siting rules recommended by the Site Evaluation Committee that the BIA feels are overly burdensome, lengthen the process for filing, invite challenges and litigation, and may go beyond statutory authority. Roche will testify before the committee at a hearing in Concord later this morning. Below is a copy of the letter:
October 14, 2015
Members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules
Office of Legislative Services– Room 219
25 South Capitol Street
Concord, NH 03301
Re: Final Proposals 2015-11 and 2015-12 (SEC Rules Sites 100 - 204, and 300 – 500)
Dear JLCAR Committee Members:
The Business and Industry Association (BIA) is New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce. We are the only statewide, broad-based business advocacy group in the Granite State. Our mission is to promote a healthy climate for job creation and a strong economy.
BIA believes New Hampshire and New England are in an electrical energy crisis. The latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows New England has the highest commercial, industrial and residential electricity prices in the contiguous U.S. New Hampshire prices are nearly 60 percent higher than the national average. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission itself recently reported that the region paid nearly $5 billion more for wholesale electrical energy during the winter of 2013-14, and $2 billion more last winter, than during the benchmark winter of 2011-12. Even with news that this winter's rate increases may not be as big as in recent years, prices are still very high by historical standards and in relation to the rest of the country. Our regional electric rate disparity remains a long-term, persistent challenge.
The root cause for high electricity costs is that the region lacks enough natural gas pipeline and electric transmission capacity to balance electricity demand with supply. This is compounded by retirement of non-gas-generating facilities, including the unexpected announcement of Pilgrim Nuclear Power’s retirement in 2019.
If electricity and natural gas infrastructure is not built soon, New Hampshire and New England will face significant, adverse economic consequences. A recent analysis by La Capra Associates estimates that failure to expand the region’s energy infrastructure will lead to $5.4 billion in higher energy costs for households and businesses, a reduction in disposable income that could top $12 billion, and 167,600 jobs lost or not created.
The BIA does not support or oppose any specific development project. BIA’s primary concern is the cost of electricity and New Hampshire’s economic future. We are very concerned that new energy project siting rules recommended by the Site Evaluation Committee for confirmation by JLCAR are overly burdensome, lengthen the process for filing, invite challenges and litigation, and may go beyond statutory authority. This is incredibly disconcerting to businesses, New Hampshire’s job creators. Rules for siting energy infrastructure projects in New Hampshire must be fair, balanced, clear and expeditious, not the reverse. BIA strongly encourages JLCAR to carefully and thoroughly consider specific rule provisions that create difficulties/burdens for project developers who wish to do business in New Hampshire.
Up to now, BIA worried about slowing job growth and economic activity as employers, particularly advanced manufacturers - New Hampshire’s most important economic sector - expanded operations elsewhere. If the energy project rules as recommended by the SEC are approved by JLCAR we face a bleaker scenario: employers moving existing jobs in New Hampshire and throughout New England to other locations around the country or world with lower-cost energy. The long-term, adverse economic consequences of this will be felt for decades.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide these comments. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.