Wheelabrator Concord

CLAREMONT — Two bills about renewable energy sources — biomass burning and small electrical generation originators — that were vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu June 19, drew public comment at the Claremont City Council meeting Wednesday. Citizens asked the council to vote against the biomass burning plants, and in favor of enhanced net-metering for small alternative energy systems like wind and solar. 

Rebecca Mackenzie, representing ACTS Now, a Claremont group, read a letter with multiple signers, asking the council to support Sununu’s veto of Senate Bill (SB) 365, and to override the governor’s veto of a different bill, SB 446. The letter is circulating around the state in response to a movement by legislators to override the governor’s vetoes of the two bills. 

SB 365 continued state subsidies to six biomass-burning electrical plants, as well as subsidizing the Wheelabrator incinerator in Concord. Wheelabrator generates electricity by incinerating municipal waste and under the bill would receive $8.1 million over three years. 

The total state subsidy for the biomass burning plants was $56.1 million over three years.

Mackenzie called the biomass burning plants “economically and environmentally damaging.” 

“We urge our representatives not to ‘greenwash’ and subsidize incinerators,” said Mackenzie. ACTS Now also works with a group called WOW, or Working on Waste, that was formed to study the Wheelabrator incinerator in Claremont. 

“Now that the Claremont incinerator has been shut down, we’re focusing on the Concord incinerator,” she said. “It’s not a renewable energy, although they want to call it that.” 

Mackenzie said the Wheelabrator incinerator in Concord produced 80 pounds of lead emissions last year. 

According to the Wheelabrator website, the Concord plant processes 575 tons of municipal waste per day, producing enough power for 14,000 homes and the plant itself. Metals are recovered in the post-recycling process: “Wheelabrator facilities operate with superior environmental performance and are extensively regulated pursuant to state and federal air, water and solid waste laws and regulations to protect human health and the environment.”  

In contrast, the group supports overriding Sununu’s veto of SB 446. That bill affects electric customers who produce their own energy with solar, wind or other small systems. It increases the allowable size of the facility and sets the rates at which the electric companies buy the energy at their cost. Net metering is a process by which electrical customers who own solar panels or other electricity-generating systems can sell back their electricity to the utility company. In New Hampshire, customer-generators that generate 1 Megawatt of power are reimbursed at the going rate, after which the electric company pays less. Senate bill 446 raises up to 5 Megawatts the size of facilities eligible for this credit or payment. 

Mackenzie also invited those present to a screening of “Burned: Are Trees the New Coal?” on Sept. 6 at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center, 152 South Street, at 6:30 p.m.

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