Sununu’s corporate sponsorship on display in energy vetoes

Governor Chris Sununu has accepted over $50,000 in contributions from Eversource, and over $10,000 from other utility companies.

In May, Governor Sununu was faced with three renewable energy bills, two related to specific biomass plants in the states and one relating to net metering. In his 10 year state energy strategy (which you can read about here) that any action he took on energy policy would be designed to lower costs for “ratepayers.” His strategy also specifically took aim at the cost-efficiency of various sources of renewable energy.

These were the bills that reached Sununu’s desk:

Senate Bill 365 would have required Eversource and other distribution utilities to pay above-market rates to NH’s six biomass (wood-burning) power plants.

Senate Bill 446 would have expand the state’s net metering program, which mandates that utility companies buy electricity from qualifying renewable generators.

Senate Bill 577 continued an agreement through which Eversource purchases energy produced by the Burgess Biopower plant in Berlin

In the end, Sununu did exactly what his donors at Eversource wanted. He signed SB 577, supporting the one biomass plant that has a deal with Eversource and knowing that a veto would have led to the plant closing would have been politically self-destructive. He vetoed SB 446, dashing the hopes of towns like Dover that were looking toward powering buildings with solar energy. His veto of SB 365 stands to have an even worse impact.

Since Sununu vetoed SB 365, three biomass plants owned by Pinetree Power and Bridgewater Power have announced that they will suspend operations. These companies employ thousands of people in some of the most economically vulnerable areas of New Hampshire. Officials from the plants have predicted that shutting down operations will have severe trickle-down impacts on the economies of rural towns like Bethlehem, Tamworth, and Ashland.

The logging industry will be among the first to feel the effects of this decision. Loggers in New Hampshire were taken aback by Sununu’s veto of SB 365, not only because it will cause loggers that sell to these plants to lose a majority of their business, but also because the bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Governor Sununu didn’t listen to the bipartisan majority of legislators who worked together to pass these bills. He didn’t address the concerns of the affected towns about the danger of vetoing these bills for the local economy. The forest industry and a bipartisan group of legislators are now working to override Sununu’s veto.

The lesson from this episode is clear and simple: Chris Sununu is paid for by large corporations. If we want a Governor who represents our interests instead of corporate interests, we need to vote Chris Sununu out this November.