InDepthNH: "Sununu Floats New ‘Version’ of Failed Northern Pass Hydro In Face of High Energy Costs"

By Paula Tracy

A SEC hearing on Northern Pass in 2017. (Forest Society photo)


CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu has been doing a deep dive into the exploding heat and energy costs looking at the region’s grid into the future, renewables, and said he believes that hydropower is one of the state’s best options for inexpensive, renewable energy.

“This is the issue over the next few months,” Sununu stressed at a meeting with the press this week.

Newly elected for a fourth term, Sununu spoke at length about utility concerns and said he thinks a new version of the controversial Northern Pass may be the solution.
Sununu supported the Northern Pass project which failed to get approval from state regulators and was the source of significant opposition with its plan to run electricity on high voltage transmission from Quebec through New Hampshire into Massachusetts.

“I think hydro is a huge opportunity for this state that we have not fully capitalized on, not just hydro here from out of Quebec. That is some of the cheapest electricity in the western hemisphere…and it is literally just a few miles over our border. Let’s find a way to tap into it. Whether it is another version of Northern Pass or another expansion of opportunities working with some of the utilities here, that is all on the table,” Sununu said.

“We will make sure we do it right, but I think we have to allow every possibility to come to the table because individuals will go cold. Individuals, unfortunately, will go without heat whether it is this winter or next winter.

“And that isn’t, um, if you go without air conditioning in the summer, it can be very dangerous of course. You go without heat in the winter, and people die. This is a whole different ball game,” Sununu said.

He was not as enthusiastic about solar power.

 “And to say we are just going to make our entire grid based on solar power and all that kind of stuff. There is a place for solar in our mix but especially in the winter when it snows and it is cold and cloudy that is not going to provide the reliability we need to keep prices low, it actually skyrockets because all those projects take a subsidy and a typical solar panel adds about 12 percent the efficiency of a natural gas plant,” Sununu said. “The lack of reliability drives prices through the roof.”  

Sununu has been criticized in the past for vetoing legislation that encouraged alternative energy sources.