Forum, Dec. 18: New Hampshire PUC’s actions are short-sighted

Published: 12/17/2021 10:00:07 PM
Modified: 12/17/2021 10:00:04 PM
New Hampshire PUC’s actions are short-sighted

New Hampshire residents received a nasty holiday surprise last month from the Public Utilities Commission, which acted to seriously undermine the state’s fledgling energy efficiency program, negating several years of progress in providing energy conservation incentives. This successful program has improved the lives of many citizens. Cold, drafty homes have been made comfortable while participants have reaped economic benefits through lower utility bills. The program has spawned considerable growth in New Hampshire’s green building industry, and 10,000 workers’ jobs in the energy efficiency field are now at risk.

Incentives are funded by a small charge on utility bills, which is reimbursed many times over in the form of rebates to homeowners taking advantage of the program. The commissioners must be aware of this positive economic outcome, so why are they taking this action? The cynic in me says it’s political, reflecting a so-called “conservative” outlook. This attitude represents a U-turn from old Yankee conservatism, which extolled thriftiness as exemplified in the adage “waste not, want not.” Now that has been turned on its head, and instead we have this short-sighted action that encourages business as usual: profligate use of fossil fuels and living well beyond our means when considering the planetary cost of unchecked use of oil, gas and coal.

We hope the considerable public outcry and lawsuit against the PUC’s wrongheaded action will be successful in reversing this action. New Hampshire is dead last among New England states in providing energy efficiency incentives. Time to put “conserve” back in “conservative.”



Help is on the way for West Lebanon ‘death bridge’

On a fairly regular basis I find myself driving over the “death bridge.”

You surely know which one I mean; it’s at the bottom of Seminary Hill and carries traffic from West Lebanon over toward Hannafords and the Powerhouse Mall, Best Buy and Staples, and then on toward the dump and recycling center. I always slow down when approaching the bridge so I’m not stopped on it because of a red light. The shaking underneath rivals the scariest amusement park ride, and I hate being scared — especially by rusting bridges that have failed the safety test.

A 2018 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers found that one out of every 11 bridges in the U.S. is structurally deficient, and New Hampshire makes the list of the worst 15 states in the country in terms of decaying bridges. According to Bridgemasters (a construction company specializing in bridge repair), “Of the almost 2,500 bridges in New Hampshire, just over 300 (12.2 percent) are structurally deficient.”

Do you drive much? Do you regularly cross over bridges? If so, you should thank Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas for their critical roles in passing the infrastructure bill, which according to the Transportation Department “includes at least $1.1 billion for the state’s roads, $225 million for its bridges, $126 million for its public transportation, $100 million for high-speed internet, and $26 million for its airports.”

Replacing the death bridge in West Lebanon can’t happen soon enough.



The writer is chair of the Hanover/Lyme Town Democrats.

Give a gift: Get vaccinated

Of COVID-19, it has been said that, “Nobody is safe, until we are all safe.” In other words, for everyone to be safe, everyone must be vaccinated. News reports of overcrowded hospitals, both emergency rooms and ICUs, are discouraging. Those reports always indicate that the unvaccinated represent the vast majority of the hospitalized patients. Yes, there will always be “breakthrough” cases, but that is no reason not to be vaccinated. News reports indicate that the breakthrough cases, though the patients are sick, neither require ventilators nor are likely to die. The vaccinated patients recover, leave the hospitals, and go home.

There are too many stories about the overworked and exhausted hospital staff. That should not be. We must all be grateful to the hospital staff who are working so hard in these trying times. There are too many stories of their fatigue and exhaustion.

The greatest gift that an unvaccinated person might be able to give this season, a gift to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and, yes, to hospital staff everywhere would be to get vaccinated. There is no reason or excuse today for not being vaccinated. It is the right thing for everyone.

To the unvaccinated: Give a gift. Make an appointment and get vaccinated.



Ignoring warnings about the threat

A strained silence has settled in upon this side of the Atlantic after the London extradition courts consented to bind over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the custody of the bipartisan war criminals whose now infamous misdeeds he had the audacity to reveal to the world. No doubt we find ourselves tongue-tied by the same guilty embarrassment that Jane Austen commented upon so cuttingly in 1811 when referring to just one more British imperial atrocity: “How horrible it is to have so many people killed! — And what a blessing that one cares for none of them!”

We might work up some concern on our own watch by recalling the grisly fate of the most prolific Weimar journalist of the 1920s and 1930s — Carl von Ossietzky — who also made himself a battery of high-powered enemies by fearlessly bringing to light the covert collaboration of the officer corps, a jingo media, and servile politicians enabling the German war machine to circumvent the arms control constraints imposed upon it by the armistice. For his pains, Ossietzky would first be clapped into prison on bogus charges by the most degenerate Weimar authorities before the Nazi takeover finally allowed Hitler to go in for the kill. The very last line published by Ossietzky before being remanded to the care of the SS has become an epitaph worth pondering both by modern journalists and a public still striving to think for itself: “Wenn die Menschen nicht fragen duerfen, dann werden die Dinge fragen.” The line loosely translates: If people are no longer allowed to question their political reality, then that same political reality will begin to speak for itself and interrogate them.

Unfortunately, most Germans of that era were deaf to the warnings of a genuinely free intellect about the authoritarian threat always posed by a militarist deep state, but just maybe we still possess enough residual hearing to parse the agony of the kindred butterfly currently being broken upon our wheel.



Ringing the bells to support Listen

For more than two decades, members of the Hanover Rotary Club have been ringing bells on Main Street in Hanover during the holiday season in support of Listen Community Services’ “Heating Helpers” program. Last year there were no bells on Main Street, but we persevered with a “virtual” bell-ringing campaign that raised more than $30,000`.

This holiday season, club members are back on the street in a limited capacity — ringing bells on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays up through Christmas Eve. If you are shopping in town and you hear our bells, please stop by and make a donation. Like last year, the club has established a GoFundMe campaign for online donations. Please visit the club’s website — — to make a donation and watch the short videos of almost 40 club members and others in the community virtually ringing bells for Listen. The Hanover Rotary Club and the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation will match donations from the community up to at least $15,000, so your donation will be doubled. Rising fuel costs have been in the headlines for months, so your support for this crucial program is needed now more than ever.





The writers are co-chairs of the Hanover Rotary Club Bell Ringing Campaign.

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