Rep. Eamon Kelley & Coos County Commissioner Robert Theberge: What Burgess BioPower does for NH ratepayers

Read the original post in Union Leader here.

LAST SUMMER, power supply rates in New Hampshire jumped by 100% or more. Though rates for electricity declined slightly in January, we are still paying exorbitant amounts for power.

A recent report shows that New Hampshire now has the second-highest residential electricity rates in the nation, second only to Hawaii — a literal island relying on imported fuel and cut off from the rest of the nation’s power grid.

While New Hampshire isn’t a tropical oasis, the Granite State — and all of New England — is somewhat of an island when it comes to power. We are at the end of the nation’s natural gas pipeline, which is at capacity, yet more than half of our electricity is generated by power plants that run on natural gas. Fossil fuel sources like oil and coal are typically reserved for peak demand periods, and wind and solar, while important parts of the state’s renewable portfolio, only produce power intermittently.

Thankfully, there is a reliable, local source of baseload renewable energy to help support the grid and provide price stability.

Burgess BioPower is a 75-megawatt biomass power plant in Berlin — “The City that Trees Built” — that produces reliable, price-stable power all year round. Burgess generates enough renewable baseload energy each year to power about 67,000 homes. It is also a major economic catalyst, supporting more than 240 jobs and generating $70 million annually in statewide economic activity. It is the largest buyer of low-grade wood in the state.

Given our region’s dependence on natural gas for electricity production, there is no overnight fix to skyrocketing energy prices. That’s why it’s so important to support a diverse energy portfolio that relies more heavily on renewable power sources, including biomass.

Although Burgess BioPower is just a piece of the New England power grid puzzle, the facility provides consistent value day in and day out. As energy prices fluctuate, Burgess’ fixed 20-year price helps offset those swings — and it provides much-needed certainty and predictability.

When power prices in New Hampshire were pennies on the dollar, it may have seemed like the price of Burgess BioPower energy was expensive. Today, with rates above 20 cents per kilowatt hour, Burgess power is an absolute bargain.

But the true value Burgess BioPower provides transcends its kilowatt hour pricing. Burgess BioPower is a critical power producer that serves as a statewide economic driver, and as a major economic anchor for Berlin and communities across the state where Burgess purchases its biomass fuel. It supports and sustains local families and businesses.

Burgess needs our help to continue operating long into the future. House Bill 142 (HB142) was recently approved by the legislature with strong bipartisan support, for which we thank our colleagues. Please visit and click on the HB142 page to learn more about the bill.

We can’t flip a switch to fix our energy costs problem but we can take steps now to invest in reliable, renewable energy sources like Burgess BioPower so we’re better positioned to withstand market volatility in the future.

Rep. Eamon Kelley (D) and Coos County Commissioner Robert Theberge (R) are from Berlin.

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