Echo Action is a team of frontline community leaders, activists, friends and neighbours with the common goal of promoting clean, renewable energy throughout New Hampshire, our nation and planet for a safe, healthy and prosperous fossil-free future.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE: THE PUC AND FOSSIL FUEL EXPANSION IN NH
Thursday, August 2nd, 6:00 pm
49 Community Way, Keene NH
* Across from Monadnock Food Co-Op: Please park with care as many areas are for residents or co-op customers.
D. Maurice Kreis, New Hampshire’s Consumer Advocate at the Public Utility Commission (PUC) visits Keene on Thursday, Aug 2nd. The Clean Energy Team is hosting a talk by Attorney Kreis on his role advocating for residential ratepayers in public utility proceedings and policy decisions. OCA Kreis will address the impact of public engagement and share his perspective on what issues matter to the PUC. The presentation starts at 6 PM at 49 Community Way, across from the Co-Op.
A panel discussion with educator and ECHO Action activist, Stephanie Scherr, Keene City Councilor, Terry Clark, and Attorney Richard Husband immediately follows the presentation. All three panelists are involved in dockets currently before the PUC and will share their experiences in “picking their battles,” and the opportunities for engagement by interested citizens.
The Clean Energy Team of Monadnock Progressive Alliance hosts educational events to help our neighbors and local businesses learn about the economic, environmental and health benefits of energy efficiency, weatherization, and renewable energy.
The event is free and open to the public.
Monadnock Progressive Alliances' Clean Energy Team
To those waiting for Republicans to take any legislative step toward mitigating the effects of man-made climate change: There's good news and bad news.
First, the good news: On Monday, a House Republican will finally put forward a piece of legislation designed to discourage the burning of fossil fuels. The measure from Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida does so by placing a price on emitting carbon dioxide, which is the sort of measure most economists see as the most cost-effective way of reducing the buildup of the key greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
“I understand that the onus is on Republicans to step up and show that we're willing to tackle this issue in a meaningful way,” Curbelo said in an interview Thursday.
And the bad news? On that same day, 222 of Curbelo's GOP colleagues voted in favor of a resolution by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) declaring any such carbon tax would be “detrimental to the United States economy.”
The overwhelming success of the anti-carbon tax gesture shows the party led by President Trump — who personally rejects climate science — is far from ready to enact any measure to stem the release of more of greenhouse gases.
Representing a portion of South Florida already seeing frequent flooding, Curbelo has emerged as a lone voice with the GOP caucus trying to push his party toward embracing “market-based solutions” to a problem many Republicans refuse to even acknowledge.
But Curbelo is trying to make things less lonely for himself. He, along with fellow Floridian Rep. Ted Deutch (D), founded the Climate Solutions Caucus two years ago to commit a bipartisan group of House members to addressing climate change. At least at the surface, the results are encouraging for environmental advocates. So far, 43 Republicans have joined the caucus.
But environmentalists are less encouraged when they take a look at caucus members' voting records. On Thursday, only six GOP representatives broke with the party and voted against the resolution declaring carbon taxes detrimental. (One Republican Climate Solutions Caucus member voted present.)
It is “astounding that House Republicans would pass an anti-climate resolution with outrageous and factually dubious claims that rejects outright one viable option for addressing climate change,” Deutch said Thursday. “Every member of Congress, especially Climate Solutions Caucus members, should keep all options available.”
Still, some others saw progress. “The fact that six Republicans voted 'no' on an anti-carbon tax resolution is an indication that there are cracks in the wall separating Democrats and Republicans on climate change,” said Mark Reynolds, executive director of the Citizens' Climate Lobby, a grass-roots environmental group that helped organize the caucus. “When a similar resolution came up in the previous Congress, every Republican voted for it.”
Among those Republicans who switched sides on the nonbinding resolution was Curbelo himself.
“I understand for a lot of colleagues when you ask the question in a vacuum, as this resolution did, any tax hurts economic growth.” Curbelo said walking from the floor Thursday after the vote. “But once you put it in a broader context, it can make sense.”
The Florida Republican said while he did not have “a formal whip operation” on the anti-carbon tax resolution, “we did engage members” of the caucus.
He regarded the timing of the resolution from the actual House whip as “a defensive move.” Scalise's office said the timing of his resolution was coincidental.
Curbelo's bill would repeal the federal gasoline tax and replace it with a tax on carbon dioxide levied directly against energy companies and some manufacturers. In turn, the Environmental Protection Agency would be prohibited from regulating carbon dioxide emissions.
Revenue from the carbon tax would go toward housing low-income people, mitigating coastal flooding, researching alternative energy and assisting displaced coal workers.
But the bulk of it would go toward building new infrastructure. “This bill, in addition to being responsible policy, does attempt to capture the political energy of the moment,” Curbelo said.
“Perhaps the only one” of Trump's agenda items, Curbelo added, “that was popular across the American electorate was infrastructure investment.”
Curbelo's bill has earned the support of some environmental organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, whose senior policy adviser Jason Albritton called it “a pretty thoughtful approach to the issue.”
Conservative donors who twist the arms of Curbelo's fellow Republicans quickly dismissed his proposal. “The mere thought of a carbon tax is tantamount to throwing a wet blanket on an economy ignited by tax reform,” said Brent Gardner of Americans for Prosperity, the main political organizing arm of billionaire oilman Charles Koch's donor network.
At the beginning of Trump's presidency, a group of senior Republican statesmen, including former secretaries of state James A. Baker and George P. Shultz, pitched a similar “carbon fee and dividend” to the White House. Under that plan, the federal government would tax carbon but would redistribute the revenue directly to taxpayers. Gary Cohn, then head of Trump’s National Economic Council, heard Baker and his team out.
The White House ultimately did not embrace the plan.
The City of Boston's Finance Manager, NH's Consumer Advocate and an NHPR radio host weigh in on ISO New England's peak load data and the role of behind-the-meter solar in our regional energy mix.
Joe LaRusso, Energy Efficiency and Distributed Resources Finance Manager for the City of Boston
, posted 22 tweets on July 20th stating, "July 17 Newswire contains some insights regarding the performance of behind-the-meter (BTM) PV in its service territory during the recent 6/29-7/5 heatwave."
His calculations reveal solid evidence for behind the meter (BTM) photovoltaic (PV) solar power as a means to reduce peak load, and ultimately, our reliance on fossil fuels. It also strengthens the position that we do not need more natural gas.
"The point is this: it’s a clear & irrefutable fact that BTM PV has arrived; that *all* NE electric customers benefit from it; & that its positive effects on the ISO-NE grid will only grow as battery storage becomes ubiquitous and the amount of installed BTM PV increases."
This conversation comes on the heels of 7 tweets on July 5th from D. Maurice Kreis, NH Consumer Advocate, where he questioned crediting the lack of spikes in ISO New England's wholesale markets during the heat wave to Marcellus shale gas.
His comments had come in response to NHPR's Sam Evans Brown's tweets on July 3rd that "things remained decidedly unspicy all day" [on the grid] with only a few small spikes that "didn’t even hit triple digits", wrapping up the tweet with the enthusiastic declaration, "This is the power of the Marcellus Shale at work."
The Twittering discourse between energy gurus and talking heads are expatiations worth following for those entrenched in state and regional energy negotiations, okay, disputes. Utility, energy and pipeline companies have the upper hand in selling pipe dreams of cheap fuel and electricity, while the general public accepts the aggressive sales tactics as some kind of benevolent offering.
Listen, read, learn. Ask questions of those willing to share their expertise. Ask questions of yourself and and your legislators. They can't be expected to be knowledgeable on every issue. We must educate them, and unfortunately, are obligated to dispute the shiny advertising that oozes from every boil of consumerism by multi-billion dollar corporations.
Legislators are taking their cues and talking points from the very sources that seek to profit from our acceptance of promised municipal wealth and ratepayer savings, with no evidence to back up their claims. If promises are broken, we get to keep the stranded costs, continuing to pay for what we didn't need in the first place.
Energy masters, financiers and radio hosts can talk all day, but if we're not listening, the pipelines flow on.
We had 4 eco-signs over East & West 101 tonight for several hours, then the cops showed up. Fortunately, they were as nice as all the people who drop by to ask questions.
Word is out. Protect your finances, property values, health, safety, children, air, water, food & future. For jobs and our economy, just say #NoGraniteBridgePipeline & yes to #renewables!
We'll be in Epping on Friday night, July 27th in Epping at the Park & Ride on Route 125! Come meet us. Bring your neighbors and your questions!
Support ECHO Action's mission of a #FossilFree603!
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Learn more about the Granite Bridge Pipeline & LNG tank, see photos and video of the Epping tank site and a comparable tank, view our interactive map route indicating the blast zone and learn about the health and safety impact of pipelines.
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Lebanon — City officials say a new purchase program that allows Lebanon to pay real-time prices for electricity could save the municipality thousands on its annual utility bills.
The city recently signed an agreement with Auburn, N.H.-based Freedom Energy Logistics to provide power at prices just above wholesale rates. The deal, which took effect this month, replaces a system where Lebanon would purchase its electricity at yearly, fixed rates.
The switch will result in the city buying its power from a market that varies in price from hour to hour, as the demand for energy changes throughout the day. While there is the chance for volatility in the marketplace, city officials estimate they will find savings.
If Lebanon had moved to real-time pricing in January 2015, it could have saved $220,000 to date, according to Tad Montgomery, the city’s Energy and Facilities Manager.
That’s significant, he said, especially when considering that Lebanon’s annual electric bill amounted to $200,000 last year.
“In (the last) 42 months, there are only four where we would have paid more for electricity under the real-time prices versus fixed rate,” Montgomery said in an interview on Tuesday.
Lebanon officials decided to change pricing strategies after seeing neighboring Hanover succeed under a similar model. In 2014, the town became a member of the New England Power Pool, which allows it to buy energy directly from the wholesale marketplace.
The arrangement “saves us a ton of money on electricity pricing,” while also giving Hanover the power to purchase renewable energy certificates, Town Manager Julia Griffin said on Tuesday.
The community hopes to transition its electricity to 100 percent renewable sources by 2030, and Hanover’s ability to determine how it purchases power will play a role in the transition, Griffin said.
Over a period of 12 months ending in February, Hanover paid roughly 6.7 cents per kilowatt hour for its municipal electricity, according to Lebanon City Councilor Clifton Below.
By comparison, he said, Lebanon’s fixed agreement resulted in the city paying 8.3 cents.
“Even with the price spike from early this winter, they still ended up paying less,” said Below, who is also chairman of the Lebanon Energy Advisory Committee. “That just sort of shows the potential for savings that are there.”
Although the city won’t know energy prices in advance, it can predict when rates will be highest, Below said.
Demand for electricity usually grows from a low point around 5 a.m. to a peak between 6-7 p.m. in the summer months, according to ISO New England, which operates the region’s electric grid.
And Lebanon already has begun to shift some services in response, said Montgomery. During last week’s heat wave, operations at both the city’s water and wastewater plants were moved to use less energy.
“Both plants are developing protocols to do this to the maximum degree possible,” Montgomery said. “This is the start of our program to reduce electric costs, and the plant managers and DPW staff have been very helpful within the constraints of needing to keep their plants running.”
Although beneficial, the city’s agreement with Freedom Energy Logistics isn’t designed to be a long-term path to low energy bills. The city is on a month-to-month contract with the broker, largely because it soon hopes to be generating its own energy.
With plans to expand solar in Lebanon and generate electricity at the Lebanon landfill, the city expects to someday generate a surplus, which might become available to residents.
Both Below and Montgomery are working on a project called Lebanon Community Power, which would able to sell the excess energy and allow city residents the ability to buy electricity in real-time. Roll out of the power project is expected sometime next spring, Below said.
City officials are also awaiting a state decision regarding Liberty Utilities’ plans to install batteries in about 300 city homes this fall. That project would see Liberty customers paying $1,000 upfront or $10 a month for 10 years for a Tesla Powerwall, and could be incorporated into the Lebanon Community Power model, said Below.
Settlement negotiations on the Liberty proposal are ongoing before the state Public Utilities Commission. It’s not clear when a decision will be delivered.