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Another View -- William Gannon: New Hampshire's economy needs energy to grow

December 08. 2017 12:05AM

As a senator and father of four children, I try to be a shepherd of the environment for my children and yours. I work closely with solar and renewable energy companies as well as conservation groups so New Hampshire remains the most beautiful place to live and raise a family.

Unfortunately, solar, wind and hydro sources are not yet ready technologically nor in a cost effective way to meet the current generation needs of New Hampshire.

With the newfound abundance of America’s natural gas resources, my interest has turned to how that can benefit New Hampshire’s businesses and families. Our nation’s new position as the world’s leading producer of natural gas has driven down energy and product development costs across the country — but our state is unfortunately not experiencing this.

Abundant natural gas means nothing unless it can be transported here — and that’s why energy infrastructure development in New Hampshire and New England must be our focus now and in the future.

Look around today and you’ll already see the benefits of natural gas. In addition to providing roughly 50 percent of our electricity each day and heating our homes, many of the products that we use on a daily basis have been manufactured using natural gas. Items we depend on for domestic comfort and to do our jobs have used natural gas at some phase of their production. Computers and cellphones, medication, appliances, clothing, cosmetics, and airplanes are all examples of indispensable items that natural gas has played a role in producing. Even many products that are manufactured here in New Hampshire rely on natural gas.

Energy infrastructure that transports this natural gas is a critical link to accessing low cost energy, generating and maintaining jobs, and creating goods and products. In parts of the country that have the energy infrastructure to access abundant, affordable domestic natural gas, the manufacturers and businesses are thriving, they are expanding, and they are even attracting New Hampshire businesses to their states.

Manufacturers play a critical role in New Hampshire’s economy. My district is home to Sig Sauer, one of the largest employers not only in my district but in New Hampshire, and it needs access to lower cost energy to compete and keep those jobs in New Hampshire. This company is not alone.

If we are to create new jobs or even keep the ones we already have, we need to ensure our manufacturers and job creators are able to remain competitive with the rest of the country.

Many opponents to new energy infrastructure cite safety as a concern. I can attest to the safety and integrity of our existing energy infrastructure, such as natural gas pipelines. New Hampshire already has more than 3,100 miles of intrastate pipelines delivering gas to consumers. These pipelines have a 99.99 percent safety record. That is an impressive statistic. From the construction phase through the process of usage and maintenance, the technology standards used by today’s energy industry are high. Pipelines are among the most efficient and safest means by which to transport energy resources today.

Although we have 3,100 miles of existing natural gas pipelines, many areas across our Granite State lack the energy infrastructure and access to clean-burning, affordable natural gas.

The development of New Hampshire’s energy infrastructure through the use of pipelines to transport natural gas has the potential to better the quality of life in our communities, lower the cost of energy for our businesses and families, and promote the safety of energy resources that are transported into our state.

Let’s not allow a lack of modern energy infrastructure continue to take dollars out of our pockets. If a growing, vibrant New Hampshire economy depends on developed infrastructure, let’s not be held back. Let’s move forward and build what will best benefit the lifestyle and economy of our people.

Sen. William Gannon, R-Sandown, represents District 23.

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