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October 18. 2012 12:35AM

Summit to bring NH energy issues to center stage

CONCORD — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, gubernatorial candidates Maggie Hassan and Ovide Lamontagne, and a former assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Energy will be the headliners at the New Hampshire Energy Summit scheduled for Monday.

Shaheen’s appearance comes in the wake of Senate action on a bill the Democrat co-sponsored with Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman. The Senate on Sept. 22 unanimously passed key energy efficiency standards in the bill, in the hope that the House will approve the legislation in the lame duck session after the election.

In addition to discussing the Shaheen-Portman Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, the senator will brief the summit on national energy policy developments.

Democrat Hassan and Republican Lamontagne will stake out their positions on energy issues facing the state in the final session of the morning-long event, with topics ranging from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to the Northern Pass hydroelectric project.

Susan Tierney, former assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Energy, and now a consultant, will host the opening session on the evolving natural gas market, where declining prices have been affecting energy policy and costs in a variety of ways.

The second session will focus on conservation efforts designed to reduce demand, highlighting the actual experiences of businesses in New Hampshire that have implemented energy efficiency programs.

The third session will offer a panel discussion on competition in the wholesale and retail markets for electricity. Commercial customers have been enjoying the benefits of deregulation and competition among energy suppliers for years, but consumers in New Hampshire continue to rely almost entirely on the state-regulated utility, Public Service of New Hampshire, for both energy delivery and supply.

Dan Allegrette, a vice president with Constellation New Energy and a speakers at the session, said that could be changing. “We’re at a turning point in New Hampshire,” he said in an interview leading up to the event. “We’ve seen the residential markets grow in neighboring states like Connecticut and Massachusetts. I think we’re on the cusp in New Hampshire.”

Michael Hachey, vice president of TransCanada, will also participate in the session on competition. His company is a key developer of the Keystone pipeline, which if completed would transport petroleum from Alberta to multiple U.S. destinations.

The conference, which runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Concord, was organized by the Dupont Group, a Concord-based consulting and lobbying firm, and the New Hampshire Independent Energy Council, a trade organization consisting of energy generators and suppliers.

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Dave Solomon may be reached at dsolomon@unionleader.com.


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