SPRINGFIELD — Standing outside the shuttered Springfield Power biomass plant Wednesday morning as snow fell, local Democratic lawmakers denounced the July veto by Gov. Chris Sununu they say caused the plant closure and job losses.
Jenn Alford-Teaster, a local community activist and a 2018 state senate candidate, said the closures caused by the veto of HB 183 strikes at the New Hampshire timber way life.
“The timber industry is one of the oldest industries in New Hampshire,” Alford-Teaster said.
“This is a cultural source of pride and to take away the innovation that our timber industry has had … I don’t understand why someone who is a native Granite Stater like Gov. Sununu would do that.”
The Springfield biomass plant is owned by New Jersey-based EWP Renewable Corp., a unit of South Korea-based Korea East-West Power Co., according to a recent Valley News article.
EWP moved to close the Springfield plant and its Whitefield plant last month after lawmakers were unable to overturn Sununu’s veto of the bill, which would have continued subsidies of the biomass industry.
Sununu’s spokesman, Ben Vihstadt, said the biomass subsidies would have cost all Granite State residents millions in electricity rate hikes.
“Governor Sununu will not apologize for standing up for low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes who would have seen their electric bills skyrocket if this legislation passed, putting ratepayers on the hook for $60 million over three years,” Vihstadt said.
State representatives Brian Sullivan, Lee Oxenham, and Linda Tanner accused Sununu of caving to the New England Ratepayers Association when he vetoed the bill, and pointed out that his brother, Michael Sununu, works for the association.
“I wish the governor had spent more time in towns like Springfield, talking to the dedicated biomass workers and learning about the industry, and less time pushing the agenda of his brother and his special-interest donors,” Sullivan said.
Alford-Teaster said the job losses from the two shuttered plants will be felt throughout the state. Tanner said a lot of independent timber harvesters will feel the pain of losing the biomass market in New Hampshire.
Vihstadt said state officials are working with the laid-off plant workers to help them get back into the job market.
“State officials were on the scene for a rapid response event at both biomass plants within days of the announcements to offer assistance and provide the necessary resources to gain new employment opportunities,” he said.