Commentary: Granite Shore Power Switch From Coal to Clean Energy is Welcome News

Originally published by the Seacoastonline

New Hampshire has new opportunities to lead on energy policy that promotes jobs, economic development, and reliable clean energy. For decades, New Hampshire has relied on aging energy resources and insufficient diversity of generation resources for reliability while electric rates continue to increase for ratepayers due to extreme weather events and turmoil in world markets. There has been too little investment to drive new technologies in our state. 

The recent news announced by Granite Shore Power — owner of the state’s last remaining coal plants — that it was forging ahead with the voluntary closure of Schiller and Merrimack stations to launch a massive new investment in clean energy parks is welcome news.

The recent unprecedented step by Granite Shore Power to end coal-burning operations and build sustainable energy facilities in their place will make New Hampshire a national leader in clean energy production. It will have transformational effects on New Hampshire’s energy resilience with less costly clean energy. This news is especially timely given the availability of federal funding and the planning by the New Hampshire Department of Energy to move New Hampshire forward on clean energy and energy efficiency. As members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and chair of the New Hampshire Commission on Offshore Wind and Port Development, we know that good policy and a regulatory environment that supports private investment are essential for New Hampshire’s energy future.

Granite Shore Power’s decision to proactively transition two major coal-burning stations to environmentally safe power production alternatives is private sector leadership. It is something that all residents of our state, as well as leaders from both sides of the aisle, should support now and in the months to come.

Schiller Station will be converted into a battery storage facility, taking energy from the grid during low demand and putting it back on the grid during peak periods. Schiller’s strategic location on the Seacoast will allow it to capture offshore wind power from Martha’s Vineyard and the Gulf of Maine, meaning the plant will be replacing coal power with renewable battery power. And this is just a start for Granite Shore Power. The success of offshore wind and potential clean hydrogen energy development need to be coupled with battery storage, solar energy, and grid modernization. The Granite Shore Power proposals provide key features for a successful development of new power sources to provide clean, lower cost energy for New Hampshire homes and businesses.

Merrimack Station will be converted to a Renewable Energy Park — the first of its kind in our state’s history. GSP will redevelop the power plant’s nearly 400 acres to facilitate multiple sources of clean energy manufacturing including a solar farm, battery storage, green biodiesel, and hydrogen that can link to an existing natural gas pipeline.

In addition to lowering emissions and providing families and businesses with more cost-effective energy, the construction and operation of two state-of-the-art renewable energy parks will add untold numbers of jobs to the state and local economies. Granite Shore Power will count on us all to support the development of these massive projects. The positive impact these transformative projects will have not only on the grid, but on our economy cannot be overstated.  For years we have hoped for the promise of policy and power companies making clean energy a reality.

Granite Shore Power is delivering on those promises.

New Hampshire state Sen. Kevin Avard, District 12, is chairman Senate Energy & Natural Resources. State Sen. David Watters, District 4, is ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy & Natural Resources