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Hassan’s stunt: Northern Pass and priorities

May 12. 2013 3:26PM

Last week Gov. Maggie Hassan engaged in a publicity stunt disguised as an effort to stand up for New Hampshire. It failed. Meanwhile, she is ignoring an outreach effort that could do the state a great deal of good.

Connecticut legislators have been pushing to get hydro power classified as renewable energy under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards. Those standards require electric utilities to get a certain percentage of their power generation from “renewable” sources, which include wind, solar, biomass, ocean waves, fuel cells, etc. Hydro power that generates more than 5 megawatts is excluded, as the original idea was to stimulate the creation of small, “green” power generation facilities.

A bill passed by the Connecticut Senate would allow large hydro power operations to qualify as “renewable energy” under the RPS mandate. That means Connecticut utility companies could get RPS credit for buying power from Northern Pass. Hassan wrote to Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy last week to urge him to oppose the bill. His office immediately responded by dismissing Hassan’s concerns.

Connecticut has been moving toward this change for at least two years, and it is hard to see how Hassan could have thought her protest would have any effect. But it sure made for a good show. It also highlighted Hassan’s priorities.

Since she became governor, Hassan has ignored an outreach effort that could produce results. Gun manufacturers that have facilities in states that have passed tougher gun-control laws after the Newtown shootings have expressed some interest in moving some of their operations to friendlier states. Governors in other states have pursued these firms aggressively. Gov. Hassan has not.

Urging another state’s governor not to boost Northern Pass’s prospects makes for good political theater. Recruiting law-abiding gun-makers would, too. But Hassan apparently finds them distasteful. Her failure to court them sends an unmistakable message: New Hampshire would rather struggle economically than have the state dotted with more gun manufacturers.

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