Sig Sauer is not unique. According to the Union Leader, Chocolate maker Lindt & Sprungli says high energy costs are preventing it from expanding its Stratham operation, which produces around 250 tons of chocolate a day. Whelen Engineering, which makes emergency lights for police cars, is considering whether to add a new building in the Charlestown area with 100 new jobs or put it in a cheaper-energy state, such as Georgia.“Manufacturing will go away from New Hampshire if we do not as a state, and especially our Legislature behind it, do something which should have been done 10 years ago to reduce the cost and control the cost of energy to the manufacturers" said John Olson, Whelen’s executive vice president
We hear a lot of talk about improving New Hampshire's economy to make our state more business friendly, but little discussion or legislative action on attempting to bring our energy costs down to a competitive level. The Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire (BIA)considers the current situation an "energy crisis. " “New Hampshire businesses continue to experience excessive electrical energy prices due to supply constraints. The high cost of electricity makes businesses here less competitive, jeopardizes current and future jobs, and threatens our economy. Even with news that this winter's rate spike may not be as big as in recent years, the regional electric rate disparity remains a long-term, persistent challenge. Make no mistake – this is a crisis and action is needed now.”'
In September 2015, BIA launched EnergizeNH , "..an initiative advocating for state and regional policies and initiatives that enable the development of low-cost, reliable sources of energy, including expanded natural gas pipeline capacity and increased electrical transmission, into the region."
More than 44% of NH's electricity is generated from the Seabrook nuclear power plant. Natural gas provides 27 %, coal meeting almost 15 percent, 8% is from hydroelectric power (imported from Connecticut and the Merrimac River basin) and 5% from wood derived resources.
NH has no fossil fuel resources so all the coal and natural gas comes from elsewhere.
Where is Concord on this critical issue? In an interview with the Union Leader, Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, said he doesn’t think the Legislature should get involved.
He said that businesses looking to locate in New Hampshire factor in things like availability of workers and cost of doing business. High electric rates are “a cost of production."
Incoming State Senator Ruth Ward, R-Stoddard, in an interview with NHPR said that her top priority is expanding school choice, When asked what she will do to address the high cost of energy, she said didn’t understand why New Hampshire has such high energy costs. " And that would be one of the things, when I have an opportunity to find out where is the cost, why is it so high. I do know, for example, that some of the trustees of Eversource paid an incredible amount of money just to be trustees. Is that necessary? Could they just have trustees who are volunteers? And that would significantly reduce costs to Eversource." Governor elect Sununu sees his top priorities as voter fraud, right to work legislation and concealed carry of firearms without a permit.
The focus on reducing business taxes as the panacea to attract business misses the mark as it does nothing about what is really keeping current businesses from expanding and causing some to leave, and preventing companies from moving here.
It's too early to see what will be proposed in the NH House and Senate for 2017, as the nearly 900 new bills are not yet completely drafted.