Missing pieces in ‘Chipping away’ article

To the editor:

My concern with the article, “Chipping away: NH’s timber industry tries to adjust after governor’s biomass veto (Oct. 25-Nov. 7 NH Business Review) is not so much what it says but what it doesn’t say.

There is no mention of the fact that the six legacy power plants have received around $2 billion in ratepayer subsidies over the years. They have never operated without a ratepayer subsidy and never will, as they are too inefficient and expensive to compete in the New England electric markets. Also missing was that while the governor’s veto blocked a new additional subsidy, the existing subsidy via the renewable portfolio standard law remains in effect.

Of course, all these subsidies raise rates – and high electric rates are a major concern for businesses. Thousands of jobs have been lost or not created due to the higher rates caused by these subsidies.

Another interesting omission was in the discussion on the Burgess biomass generator.

The article states they were awarded a $500,000 grant by the Public Utilities Commission, which is correct, but it never mentions where the $500,000 comes from. As a former PUC commissioner, I can assure you all the grant money the PUC awards comes from one source – the ratepayers, in the form of higher rates. If this were mentioned in the article, folks might ask what benefit the ratepayers receive by paying a subsidy to someone growing vegetables in Berlin.

I realize all media outlets have some bias, but this was a bit over the top. The article never mentions who pays the subsidies and the negative effect they have on the overall economy. (Frederic) Bastiat in (his book) “The Law” states it much better than I can:

“But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong.

“See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law — which may be an isolated case — is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.

“The person who profits from this law will complain bitterly, defending his acquired rights. He will claim that the state is obligated to protect and encourage his particular industry; that this procedure enriches the state because the protected industry is thus able to spend more and to pay higher wages to the poor workingmen.

“Do not listen to this sophistry by vested interests. The acceptance of these arguments will build legal plunder into a whole system. In fact, this has already occurred. The present-day delusion is an attempt to enrich everyone at the expense of everyone else; to make plunder universal under the pretense of organizing it.”

Rep. Mike Harrington


Categories: Letters to the Editor