Federal bill is an important focus on energy

Under debate for the past 10 years, the massive energy bill signed Aug. 8 by President Bush offers long-term relief for energy customers by providing incentives aimed at increasing energy production, upgrading our energy infrastructure and developing new technologies. Equally important, the bill also provides incentives for energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy sources.

Of particular interest to New Hampshire electric customers is a renewable energy production tax credit, which will help encourage the construction of new energy facilities such as Public Service of New Hampshire’s Northern Wood Power Project at our Schiller Station in Portsmouth. The Northern Wood Power Project (NWPP) is a plan to replace one of our 50 megawatt (MW) coal-burning boilers with a boiler which will burn clean wood products. The new energy bill provides economic support for projects such as the NWPP that help significantly reduce air emissions while boosting the local economy by using local fuel sources. This is a win-win for New Hampshire residents and businesses.

The tax credits also provide incentives toward development of commercial wind projects by utilities or private developers. PSNH is working with one such developer to purchase 25-30 MW of electricity from a project that is expected to be constructed on Lempster Mountain, thus increasing PSNH’s use of renewable energy to serve our customers. We hope to increase our use of renewable energy even further in the future and this new energy legislation helps that effort.

At the insistence of Congressman Charlie Bass, the energy bill also contains language directing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to recognize the concerns of New England’s governors and public utilities commissions about a proposal by the Independent System Operator-New England, which oversees our region’s power system, to implement a program called Locational Installed Capacity, or LICAP.

If successful, Congressman Bass’s efforts will save New Hampshire customers hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years.

New Hampshire may be a small state, but Congressman Bass spoke with a loud voice on behalf of its electric customers. This was a massive and complex bill, and there is certain to be a lot of dialogue about its various provisions; nevertheless, this new energy policy is a major step forward in addressing critical energy issues for our region and country.

Gary A. Long is president and chief operating officer of Public Service of New Hampshire.

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