To protect jobs, energy projects must move forward

We need more energy directed into our region from diverse fuel sources, and we need it fast

The high energy prices New Hampshire has seen in recent years should be troubling to those invested in our economic future.

Five years ago, New Hampshire was ranked 19th in the country on Forbes’ annual list of Best States for Business. This year, New Hampshire is 35th. News like this serves to illustrate the concerns we as business leaders have about the rising cost of energy and its impact on our economy and jobs.

New Hampshire and New England face an energy crisis of epic proportions. Price spikes during the winter of 2013-14 cost New England $1.6 billion more than what they paid for energy in 2012. Energy costs are set to double this coming winter for many residents and businesses, and analysts predict this trend of higher prices will continue.

This isn’t hyperbole – this is a fact-based analysis of the energy conditions in our state and the region. If these trends continue, they will cripple our businesses, our citizens and our economy. Our ability to expand or even retain businesses currently based in New Hampshire is threatened by out-of-control energy cost.

We are seeing manufacturers and businesses that require reliable and affordable energy relocate to other parts of the country. We are losing good jobs for New Hampshire workers because of our lack of energy planning. Simply put, we are losing the New Hampshire Advantage we have long prided ourselves in having.

This crisis is years in the making, and there is plenty of finger-pointing and blame to go around. Rhetoric does New Hampshire consumers little good. The crisis is a matter of supply and demand. Lack of adequate energy supply is driving up prices. We need more energy directed into our region from diverse fuel sources, and we need it fast.

Our message is simple – we must move beyond the blame and politics and hand-wringing and recognize this is an all-hands-on-deck situation for our ratepayers, our economy and our future. We need bipartisan leadership and bold action to address this crisis.

In New Hampshire and elsewhere in New England, we have seen several proposed solutions that have inevitably faced some form of opposition. New Hampshire leaders must directly engage as partners with the most likely suppliers of energy to our region. It is time to work together and move forward with projects that will provide an adequate supply of energy to our state.

It is no longer acceptable just to say no. Nor is it acceptable for our elected officials to stand on the sidelines while anti-development sentiments expressed by some cause project costs to skyrocket and energy developers – and our business owners – to question the value of doing business here.

We stand ready to work with New Hampshire’s elected leadership to address this crisis.

This article was submitted by members of the New Hampshire Coalition for Job Creation: Jeremy Hitchcock, chairman/CEO, Dyn; Jay Gamble, vice president/general manager, Mount Sunapee Resort; Paul Holloway, owner, Holloway Automotive Group; Paul Montrone, chairman, Liberty Lane Partners; Peter Antoinette, president/CEO, Nanocomp; Tom Farrelly, executive director, Cushman & Wakefield; Dwight Lafountain, general manager, Jiffy Mart Convenience Stores; and Alex Ritchie, senior project analyst, Cate Street Capital.

Categories: Opinion