10-year Strategic Energy Report

Key Issues

Public Comments of Representative Kat McGhee
House Science, Technology & Energy – June 23, 2021

Stakeholder comments from around the state will include earnest reviews of prior strategic energy reports and climate action plans. They will chronicle all aspects of a modern renewable energy portfolio with recommendations for charting a course forward on specific technologies like: offshore wind, beneficial electrification and battery storage. I wanted to avoid reiterating the points made by others, including the comments of the EESE Board (Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy) to which I contributed. I opted instead to focus on the big picture of what appears to be lacking in New Hampshire’s energy strategy. In a nutshell, undertaking the creation and maintenance of a strategic plan, means that you have actually identified and committed to one. It is the statement of what we’re doing and why and how we’re doing it.

The four ‘strategic’ recommendations I have for the state of New Hampshire 10-year energy strategy report are:

  1. Adopt lowered emissions as an organizing principle for energy policy. Without this organizing principle, we are ignoring the objective of all our efforts at portfolio diversity and clean power generation. If the science of climate disruption is left out of our energy policy, then NASA’s latest report that the earth’s uptake of heat has doubled in the last 12 years, will not be used to inform our approach to the challenge of gHg emissions. Lowering harmful gHg requires goal-setting, whether overall or sector specific; so stating the goal of lowered emissions is an essential ingredient for any honest effort at a strategic energy report. Strategic energy planning without explicit goals for gHg reduction, kicks the can down an ever-shortening road; continuing to ignore this challenge does nothing to protect NH from the detrimental outcomes of heat-effects on public health, the environment, and the economy.
  1. Commit to a predictable long-term plan so economic signals can spur financial confidence. While NH remains stuck in the fear of higher energy prices, economists in the May 29th 2021 issue of Science magazine*, warn that a lack of predictable plans for coping with environmental upheaval, holds the highest costs for society and can create conditions that prevent mitigation plans from being put in place early, when they will cost the least.  Investors are preparing for climate disruption in economic markets. But governments who fail to provide consistent plans that create an orderly roadmap, will suffer the worse-case scenario for financial outcomes. OSI should seek to understand and contextualize the 21st century energy economics to aid policymakers in objective direction-setting. * (Policy Forum/Climate Finance: Accounting for finance is key for Climate mitigation pathways – this article is paywalled).

Here is a quote from Science magazine’s Policy Forum on Climate Financing:

‘In 2019, the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), a global platform of more than 8 financial authorities, recognized that climate change poses new risks for citizens’ investments and savings. It recommended a climate risk assessment of financial portfolios using several high-level scenarios, including 1) an orderly transition, in which climate policies are introduced early and predictably and climate risks are priced in by financial markets; and 2) a disorderly transition, in which the impact of climate policies is not fully anticipated by investors. In the first case, firms have time to plan ahead and investors to reallocate capital gradually. In the second case, high-carbon firms and investors face losses that can trigger market instability and costs for society as a whole. High-carbon firms would lose out in both situations, and more so in the disorderly scenario. By contrast, low-carbon firms would benefit in both situations, but not necessarily more in the disorderly scenario.’

A disorderly transition and its attendant high cost is what strategic planning and predictability should be focused to help us avoid.   

  1. Recommend realistic energy sector planning, informed by the organizing principle of lowered emissions. Revive the portfolio pie-chart to ease discussion of energy sectors at scale. Where are the gHg emissions we want to tackle and how do we promote a cost-effective, gradual transition to cleaner technologies? Ideally, a review of both supply and demand, with forecasting of where we want to go by sector, will help us define that predictable, long-term plan so that everyone can understand/get on board/invest. Since energy is complex and there are many factors to cloud understanding, OSI should provide context that plans for base-load sources, intermittent sources and energy management tools (efficiency, shaving peaks, energy data tools) which in many cases will contribute different pieces of the solution. What are NH’s needs and how will we meet them? If building out wind, solar or hydro has limits we want to manage, explain the approach that will get us to zero emissions at some point. It is past time for NH to get back to clarifying assumptions about what we are doing, and why.

OSI should include a plan for promoting energy portfolio diversity for its essential role in insulating ratepayers from monopolistic price-gauging and promoting healthy energy market competition. We have set a similar trajectory in the past and it worked as desired.

  1. Address the desire for increased electrification (transportation, commercial & industrial, and residential sectors) without regressing to higher dependence on gHg emitting fuels. This is a qualification we rarely discuss. We need a plan that connects beneficial electrification to increased adoption of clean energy sources. As we increase our grid dependence, relying on gHg emitting fuels has to be a non-starter. Stating this unequivocally means plans that include working with energy partners to manage a difficult and necessary transition becomes a partnership – based upon mutual goals. This means examining plans to decommission clean power plants must include ways to replace that base-load generation with another non-emitting source. Closing Seabrook would result in a reversal of New Hampshire’s achievements in lowered electric sector emissions unless our strategic plan is integrated around the organizing principal of lowering gHg emissions.

Energy strategy for NH must include avoiding new reliance on fossil fuel generated electricity if we are hearing what NASA is reporting about the urgency of increased heat-capture and the role of gHg in the health of the planet. The US is emitting 10 million metric tons of CO2 per day. There is a lag in the measurement of the parts per million (which is already logged at well above 400 PPM).

I would like to see OSI use a qualified consultant to examine these strategic components of NH’s 10-year energy strategy. 

Thanks for the opportunity to provide comment.

Rep. Kat McGhee

House Science, Technology & Energy