N.H. objects to Connecticut energy bill

New Hampshire’s governor strongly objected Wednesday to legislation that would rewrite Connecticut’s renewable energy policy, complaining it would disadvantage small hydro- and wood-fired generating plants in her state.

Gov. Margaret Wood Hassan told her fellow Democratic governor, Dannel P. Malloy, that his proposed changes to the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard favors big hydroelectric plans, an objection raised by environmentalists.

 “It’s clear that Connecticut’s proposal is designed to benefit large-scale hydroelectric projects, even from outside the United States, by enabling them to qualify for Connecticut’s RPS program,” Hassan said in a letter to Malloy.

Hassan echoed objections made by environmentalists in Connecticut that the RPS bill would create a bigger market for power from Hydro Quebec – and new demand for the controversial Northern Pass transmission line.

“That project could have an impact on some of our state’s most important nature resources, such as the White Mountain National Forest, which are critical to the success of our tourism industry,” she said.

Hassan, who was elected last year, called it “disappointing that Connecticut would make such a major change to its RPS law without taking the very real concerns New Hampshire and other states have into consideration.”

Mark Ojakian, who is chief of staff for Malloy, pushed back.

“We strongly disagree with Gov. Hassan,” Ojakian said. “Accessing hydroelectric power is a win-win for Connecticut and the region, because it will lower rates for Connecticut residents and increase our supply of renewable energy.”

Ojakian said Connecticut customers pay some of the highest prices for electricity in the U.S. and Malloy’s priority is bring relief on cost.

“This proposal does just that,” Ojakian said. “The purchase of more expensive and less clean biomass is simply not an option.”

Biomass is a reference to the wood-burning plants, and dropping them from consideration as renewable energy under the Renewable Portfolio Standard is not generating opposition from state environmentalists.

Their concern is that Malloy’s proposal would undermine the clean renewable energy from wind to the beneft of Hydro Quebec, a major energy producer.

The Connecticut Senate passed the energy bill last week on a 26-to-6 vote, but it is stalled in the House.

Hassan’s press release and letter.