We’ve got to address the energy crisis now

How can N.H. invite companies to move to the state when it cannot provide them with enough energy to do business?

New Hampshire, like several other New England states, is suffering from an energy shortage, both of electricity and natural gas. These shortages are raising the unit cost of each energy source to an unacceptable level.

There are thousands of New Hampshire residents who work for companies that are dependent upon electricity and natural gas that is readily available at reasonable prices, in order to earn a living. Do we deprive these people of an honest living, and put them all on welfare?

The shortage of energy, most importantly electricity, may well curtail any expansion of existing business with additional jobs, or actually shrink the businesses. If they are small and energy dependent, they may be forced close or leave New Hampshire.

Energy costs, both gas and electricity, in the southern states run anywhere between 25 percent and 35 percent of the new electric and gas rates that we are going to suffer in New Hampshire.

Last summer, our power supplier advised us that they may not be able to supply the amount of electricity our company needs to operate air conditioning in the summer. Now, we may be faced with difficulty opening two new divisions that use large amounts of electricity in the manufacturing processes of our products.

Our company has to compete entirely with Chinese suppliers of competitive products, and we have been successful in doing this, even while manufacturing in New Hampshire. However, with electricity costs rising 46 percent in November and the potential of not being able to get it, it may make it difficult (if not impossible) to readily compete with offshore manufacturers or domestic manufacturers of our product line who utilize offshore components. Our company is the only manufacturer in the United States that truly manufactures its products here in the USA.

Someone in our government decided to start closing coal-burning plants because of the CO2 they emit. This is an admirable thing to do, benefiting everyone. But good businesspeople would not have closed these facilities until arrangements had been made to replace the amount of energy that was produced by these closed plants. On top of that, they decided to close Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant without replacing its electricity.

These were very poor business decisions. I ask the state to try to reverse as many of these as they can. The way to bring energy costs under control is to have more energy than is needed so that energy producers reduce their selling prices. This is “Economics 101.”

Northern Pass should be up and operational. For some reason, the government doesn’t want to utilize eminent domain for the good of the people. A very few vocal individuals, who claim they do not like looking at power lines, have been able to get the ear of our government and hold up the source of power that could keep a good supply coming at a low price. And, remember, it is all “clean” energy. Gee, could this have replaced the energy from coal-burning plants?

How can New Hampshire go out and invite companies to move to the state when it cannot provide them with enough energy to do business? Not only should we have had Northern Pass by now but also additional natural gas lines in place to adequately serve the needs of New Hampshire residents and industry.

Any solution created today is five years from being able to solve our problem. We may have to restart our closed energy plants in order for New Hampshire to survive.

Government, please … let’s get off our duffs and do something NOW.

John F. Olson is president of Whelen Engineering, which has facilities in Charlestown, N.H., and Chester, Conn.

Categories: Opinion