The NH legislature crafted a scheme to force power companies to buy energy from biomass plants. To “save jobs.” But Biomass plants are closing. Jobs lost. Why? Busy-body legislators.
Utilities would have to had pay roughly 54% above market rates for that energy and pass it along to ratepayers and job creators. The Governor vetoed it. The legislature overrode the veto. Our largest utility sued to protect ratepayers.
While the suit plays out over the bill to ‘save jobs’- which opponents say is illegal – the biomass plants are closing. Those jobs are being idled.
Citing the failure of Eversource to come to terms on a new power-purchase agreement with six of New Hampshire’s biomass energy producers, four producers are suspending fuel purchases and operation. Douglas York, manager of the DG Whitefield biomass plant in Whitefield, said his facility would cease operations as of today, adding that a sister plant in Springfield would do so on April 13.
Busy-body legislators didn’t save jobs they killed them.
Progressive energy policy ‘experts’ took the advice of lobbyists in timber and biomass. They crafted an outrageous subsidy scheme to redistribute wealth to prop up an unsustainable energy sector. And now that industry is collapsing.
This seems like a good time to quote Bastiat.
“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”
Taxation is Theft
The first problem is one we’ve covered at length. To prop up the jobs our benevolent rulers wanted to ‘save’ they needed to force utility companies to pull roughly 75 million from the state economy.
But that 75 million isn’t just lying around doing nothing.
It paid for salaries and benefits. It was working in the local economy. Invested in new jobs, equipment, expansion, research and development, or inventory. Doing or finding a competitive or productive purpose. Extraction by force diverts it.
Special Interest Influence
The second problem is that timber is huge here. Biomass is an easy way to make money off waste wood. There are other ways to sell it. More productive uses. But if you can get elected politicians to screw ratepayers to dump it locally it’s a sweet deal.
But if Timber or biomass need the legislature to launder 20 million a year out of the economy to keep it viable, they are not viable. Those jobs need to become jobs the economy needs.
Legislative Redistribution of Unemployment
Third, the state would lose more jobs than the biomass tax bailout would ever save. New Hampshire’s electric rates keep job creators away. When the government forces those costs higher employers are not only less likely to come here or grow here, they are more likely to leave. And the stay away sign keeps getting bigger.
Democrats just crammed a ton of new taxes into the pipeline including hiking business taxes. Governor Sununu says he’ll veto them all, and that’s great, but perception trumps reality. Job creators are smart enough to know that the Democrats will keep trying to punish them. Why expand or move jobs to the Granite State given the Left’s promise to make it more expensive to live and do business here?
The suit may take some time to work itself out. If Eversource notches a win for ratepayers, biomass may never get resuscitated. Had the lawmakers stayed out of it could the utilities have found a more equitable arrangement? I’m not sure there’s a viable path for biomass, even in energy-pricey New Hampshire.
Whatever the outcome busy-body legislators in both parties may have just accelerated the industries doom. We could call that a win for free markets, but the only true win would be to convince voters to stop sending these folks to Concord.
But as Bastiat notes, we are only human.