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June 02. 2014 9:42PM

NH says it already meets EPA's lower emissions

New Hampshire officials said Monday they believe the state already is meeting the federal government’s proposal to cut carbon emissions by 2030.

Public Service of New Hampshire, the state’s largest electric utility, meanwhile, said it is too early to know whether the regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled Monday will cost ratepayers more.

“The impact of this rule on ratepayers will depend on what power sources, ultimately, are producing energy for customers, and at what cost,” spokesman Martin Murray said in an email. “As an example, the wholesale price of energy in New England in 2013 was quite a bit higher than the year before — but that had to do with the increase in the cost of natural gas; it had nothing to do with new regulations.” New Hampshire is one of nine states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which has helped reduce regional carbon dioxide emissions by about 40 percent since 2005.

“Our anticipation is they will, that we’re already meeting the requirement, and they will impose no new requirements on new sources,” said Mike Fitzgerald, assistant director of the Air Resources Division of the state Department of Environmental Services.

EPA officials said the 645-page plan would cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent nationwide below the 2005 levels. It would allow states flexibility in achieving those goals. The EPA isn’t expected to finalize its rule until mid-2015 before requiring states to submit an initial plan by June 30, 2016.

The EPA’s website provided state-by-state figures, calling for New Hampshire to cut its carbon emissions by 46 percent between 2012 and 2030.

 

 

But Joe Fontaine, the RGGI program manager in New Hampshire, suspects there was a wrong calculation made and he is looking to confirm that with the EPA. Fontaine said New Hampshire’s 2012 emissions already meet EPA’s 2030 target for the Granite State.

 

 

RGGI, the regional initiative, has capped the amount of carbon dioxide allowed to be released by power producers and developed a joint auction system to offer carbon dioxide allowances to companies producing power that cannot meet those goals through renewable sources.

 

 

Money gained from the auction is split and used by states to award grants to improve energy efficiency and develop clean energy technologies.

Murray said PSNH’s power plants have cut their carbon emissions by 70 percent between 2005 and 2013.

PSNH operates a coal plant in Bow, a coal and biomass plant in Portsmouth and a plant in Newington that can run on oil or natural gas, or both, he said. He said PSNH does purchase carbon allowances, but couldn’t immediately provide their costs.

Murray said “the most effective method to lessening any impact on customers rates is to replace energy produced by carbon-emitting sources with new, economic, cleaner energy sources.”

Americans for Prosperity–New Hampshire criticized the EPA’s efforts Monday, citing a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that these rules would kill nearly 5,000 jobs in the New England region and cost the regional economy $2.7 billion annually. Also, the study said those regulations would hike electricity costs in the RGGI states by $600 million each year.

“President Obama talks repeatedly about an economic recovery, but now has submitted rules that will kill jobs and take our economy out at the knees,” AFP State Director Greg Moore said.

Gov. Maggie Hassan said: “It is important that the federal government recognize that states like New Hampshire have been hard at work on this effort for a number of years, and I hope that these rules will level the playing field by requiring other states to begin to catch up to us.”

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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