New Hampshire Biomass plants face closures, layoffs
Four of New Hampshire’s six wood burning biomass plants are in the midst of a crisis, facing imminent closure if their expiring contracts do not get renewed. A broad coalition of representatives from the biomass, forestry, timber, and farming industries recently gathered at Merrimack Valley High School to drive that point home.
At a meeting hosted by the New Hampshire Timber Harvesting Council, a long lineup of speakers from the various industries that would be impacted by the biomass plant closures spoke to the negative economic consequences they would experience if the plants shut their doors. Beyond the approximately 100 workers directly employed by the plants themselves, another 300-400 indirect employees also risk losing their jobs. The group estimated the overall economic impact to the state as $45 million per year.
A key component of the coalition’s effort is a grassroots campaign that has already resulted in hundreds of letters sent to Gov. Lynch and other state officials. State Senator Andy Sanborn spoke at the meeting, assuring the attendees that he had received their communications and was eager to work with them to find a solution. Marlo Herrick of Hopkinton Forestry and Land Clearing, who spoke on behalf of the logging industry, urged coalition members to keep the pressure on, telling them, “The time to act is now!”
Bridgewater Power plant operator Mike O’Leary testified that the biomass plants facing closure provide clean, renewable power at a price that is competitive with other energy contractors, and stated that the crisis facing his and several other plants is real and imminent if contracts are not immediately secured. “Without a short-term contract to keep us operational, I, along with the other plant managers here today, will have no choice but to close our doors,” said O’Leary, “In this economy, the state can’t afford to lose one more job.”
See below for video of each speaker:
Eric Johnson, NH Timberland Owners Assn. and Charlie Niebling, Merrimack Valley High School
NH State Sen. Andy Sanborn
Mike O’Leary, Bridgewater Power
Marlo Herrick, Hopkinton Forestry & Land Clearing
Ed Witt, Madison Lumber Co.
Dennis McKenney, New England Forestry Consultants
Shelagh Connelly & Charley Hanson, Resource Management