Sununu

Gov. Chris Sununu

CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a bill that would have required electric utilities to buy power from New Hampshire’s six biomass power plants.

The bill aimed to deliver three years of subsidies for six of the wood-burning plants. A 2018 law meant to deliver similar subsidies is bogged down with federal regulators after a petition to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from a Massachusetts-based advocacy group was created.

The group of Republican and Democratic legislators who supported the bill said they would work to override the veto.

“This is a blow to the North Country,” said Sen. David Starr, R-Franconia, of Sununu’s veto of the bill, known by its number HB 183.

“We need to override the HB 183 veto,” Starr said in a statement.

Sen. Bob Giuda, R-Warren, said the veto would hurt businesses and jobs in his district.

“Our two biomass plants are critical elements in the region’s timber-based rural economy, both for direct suppliers and for the many supporting small businesses that keep them running,” he said in a statement.

In written statements, some legislators referred to out-of-state lobbyists — an apparent reference to the Massachusetts-based New England Ratepayers Association, which petitioned for federal regulators to block a biomass bill from last session and has advocated for the Northern Pass and natural gas pipelines.

“We can’t be held hostage by an out-of-state lobbying group,” said Rep. Bob Backus, D-Manchester. “If we lose biomass power plants and the homegrown power they generate, we will pay more for increased generation capacity in the future.”

Marc Brown, president of the New England Ratepayers Association, cheered the veto in a blog post.

The Business and Industry Association also supported the veto.

“While well intentioned, these bills would hurt New Hampshire businesses and unnecessarily raise the cost of doing business in the Granite State,” association President Jim Roche said in July of the biomass subsidy bill and two other energy-related bills.

Staff writer Kevin Landrigan

contributed to this report.

Monday, December 09, 2019