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Site Evaluation Committee Realizes the Public Wants More than the Status Quo on New Hampshire Energy

On the evening of December 5th, 2013 at the Keene Recreation Center, over 30 southern New Hampshire residents ranging from Keene to New Ipswich met to share their collective voices on the future of the state of New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC). Two compelling themes came out of the Keene SEC public comment session. They included concern over the SEC’s role in alleviating greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation and transmission in the state, as well as public opinion wanting the SEC to consider more robust studies into future energy development plans.

As part of an early December spree of public comment sessions across the state, SEC representatives and staff from consulting firm Raab Associates facilitated Thursday’s session. Their facilitation entailed breaking up the +30 attendees across several tables with 4-6 people each. At each table, people discussed their concerns on present SEC approaches to engagement with the public, noise and visual standards, generation and transmission standards relative to state energy policies, and redefining SEC membership. Then, on a computer-projected screen, everyone voted simultaneously about their preference for SEC status quo positions compared to alternative future positions the SEC could pursue.

According to anyone’s observations from Thursday evening, there could be no doubt about public frustration and uncertainty at current SEC policies and practices. Over 50 percent of the attendees viewed as “very ineffective” current SEC practices that left too much ambiguity in how SEC disclosed energy facility development decisions. Furthermore, well over 50 percent viewed “greenhouse gas and climate change” emissions as a leading future concern for SEC policies and practices to tackle. Thus, the inroads for climate movement groups and stakeholders such as 350 New Hampshire among others could prove more receptive than previously anticipated.

Matthew Young, a member of the 350 New Hampshire Leadership Committee, even found opportunities to hand out 350NH background information and inform attendees about what is being done to alleviate climate change and its effects in the Granite State.

“We need to account for an energy future in New Hampshire which doesn’t fight against, but rather works within our carrying capacity and available, renewable resources,” Young said. “We won’t be able to lead a sustainable future if we can’t put a moratorium on tar sands development and make an active legislative push for strengthening the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).” The RPS currently mandates the state of New Hampshire to generate 25 percent of its energy from renewable resources (e.g. biofuels, solar, wind sources) by 2025.

For more information on future 350-New Hampshire events surrounding direct actions to promote climate change awareness, legislative actions to push for renewable state energy policies, feel free to e-mail us at 350NewHampshire at gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

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