Forum, Feb. 3: GOP is corrupting NH public utilities panel

Published: 2/2/2021 10:00:08 PM
Modified: 2/2/2021 10:00:04 PM
GOP is corrupting NH public utilities panel

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission has jurisdiction over the rates we pay for electricity. The PUC’s decisions shape New Hampshire’s energy future. Unfortunately, there is a hint of corruption wafting from within.

The 2021-2023 New Hampshire Statewide Triennial Energy Efficiency Plan is the result of a consensus settlement agreement among all the major energy players in the state — from the utility companies like Liberty and Eversource to consumer advocate groups. The energy efficiency plan allows the PUC to raise money through a slight rate increase to fund energy efficiency initiatives. The proposed plan was supposed to take effect on Jan. 1. So why hasn’t it been implemented?

In a recent order that effectively delays the plan, the PUC claims there was not enough time to resolve the issues brought forth by the plan. But what issues? The plan has been agreed upon and is ready to go. What changed?

What changed is that nine Republican legislators, who chose not to participate in eight months of deliberation, wrote a letter to the executive director of the PUC asking for the delay because of the pandemic. But this is smoke.

In a recent appearance on The Exchange on New Hampshire Public Radio, Rep. Michael Vose, who heads the Science, Technology and Energy Committee, claimed that more study was needed on the issue of charging ratepayers to fund energy efficiency efforts.

So apparently his problem with the plan is not economic but ideological.

Or perhaps Vose’s constituent, Sig Sauer, is hell-bent on keeping its electric costs down at the expense of the rest of us.

New Hampshire is now in the hands of a Republican majority that is poised to further its campaign of disinformation surrounding climate change. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission should not be corrupted by this latest power play. New Hampshire needs energy efficiency programs now more than ever to help lower the electric bills of all its citizens and to create local jobs.

Republican lawmakers threw a wrench in the work of conservation efforts — efforts that even the utility companies agree are necessary.



More on the impact of Fairness Doctrine

Forum contributor Patrick O’Connor gives an incomplete history of the Fairness Doctrine (“Falling into trap on FCC regulation,” Jan. 30). Its most effective application was perhaps in the fight against lung cancer in the mid- to late 1970s.

Tobacco companies, having addicted the older generation during World War II, were using Madison Avenue’s slickest “I’m beautiful; you’re ugly; buy this” themes and flooding the airwaves with ads to induce the younger generation to smoke.

Anti-tobacco forces had none of the money that Big Tobacco had, but they did have one tool — the law.

As the airwaves had been declared public property 50 years earlier, anti-smoking groups pointed to their right to the same amount and quality of air time that Big Tobacco had. They got it, and the resulting public disenchantment with nicotine products convinced Big Tobacco to desist from advertising on the airwaves. It was one of the big steps forward in public health, helping to end lung cancer’s status as one of the biggest killers in the country.

The account of AM radio’s bloom of hate shows overlooks the fact that the schlock jocks are sources of big revenue for the broadcasters who carry them. As they are bankrolled by investors with hatreds as deep as their pockets, their slick production values hold the attention of listeners and viewers much better than do the public interest shows that present thoughtful analysis and rational discussion.

Were the broadcasters held to the Fairness Doctrine, they would be much more careful of their bottom line than they need to be at present.

Also overlooked is the fact that at least one study has shown that viewers of Fox News are not only less informed than the viewers of any other news channel, but less informed than people who don’t even watch any TV news.


Springfield, Vt.

The #MeToo movement has gone to extremes

The football player who was suspended from Dartmouth after the college determined he had sexually assaulted another student is in my opinion being accused wrongly, not for being Black but for being male (“Suspended student alleges bias, racism,” Jan. 29). In the past few years, the #MeToo movement has used gender as a weapon against men.

The article in the Valley News states that the Black man accused of assaulting the woman was sober, and that the woman was drunk but consented to the sexual encounter.

I believe it does not matter if an accused man is of any race because in these times a woman can accuse a man of anything and be assumed she is in the right.

I believe the #MeToo movement has gone to the extreme, giving scorned women a platform to retaliate against their male counterparts.



Story recounted a too-familiar experience

Brava to Patty Rondeau for telling the story of her assault (“Still Healing: Decades after a priest assaulted her, a Plainfield woman grapples with trauma,” Jan. 31). Her courage, and the willingness of the Sunday Valley News to carry her story, are steps in the right direction.

Her experience is all too familiar to those of us who have spoken our truth only long after secreting a private violation. And it is common for those who harm us to be revered men in our communities and ones we know well.

Tremendous talent is wasted by so many of us having to spend decades confronting in ourselves the shame of experience done to us. As survivors we heal, in part, by being heard and believed. As long as those conditions are not available for young girls and women, we are all accountable.

Healing is hard work. It is long past time for the systems we live, learn, pray, work and recreate in to do whatever it takes to meet us halfway.

Thank you to WISE and Turning Point Network for advocating on our collective behalf. #MeToo.



Important to consider every side of an issue

This is to answer the questions Forum contributor Jeff Lehmann asked in his letter of Jan. 28 (“Biden’s executive orders aren’t helping America”).

The Keystone XL pipeline has nothing to do with maintaining our country’s energy independence. It would simply have provided a faster way of transporting Canadian oil to the refineries on the Gulf Coast for shipment overseas, solely for the benefit of the oil companies. The U.S. would see only very short-term benefits from construction, while incurring everlasting destruction of our lands, and risking even more damage from any oil leaks.

The wall on our Mexican border has done little if anything to stem illegal immigration. It has been tunneled under, climbed over, cut through and gone around, not to mention parts of it falling over from poor construction. The only benefits have been for a few construction companies, as it will be for other companies when it’s taken down. All on our tax dollar. What a waste of time.

The minimum wage has nothing to do with struggling small businesses. It has to do with fair pay for honest work. By requiring a livable minimum wage, we can help people make a decent income for themselves, and rely less on public assistance. It’s either help people to help themselves, or help them through our tax dollars.

The travel ban on Muslim and African nations had nothing to do with the pandemic. It was simply a convenient, knee-jerk and racist vehicle the previous administration used to make it appear to its followers that it was doing something of value, all for political gain. If anything, in light of our country’s poor response to the pandemic, it might make more sense to limit the travel of people out of America. It’s surprised me that other countries haven’t done that already, but I guess it all comes down to money and greed.

There’s always more than one side to every issue, and they should all be considered before forming an opinion.



Vt.’s age-only vaccine approach is inadequate

I am dismayed to learn that Vermont’s vaccination plan will be restricted to older age groups until the spring, and that those with high-risk medical conditions will not be vaccinated until then. (“Critics call for equity in vaccines,” Jan. 31).

Left out of the discussion are essential workers, which in my mind would include, for example, those who stock our grocery shelves, teach and care for our children, and provide other critical services.

As a healthy 71-year-old, I find this age-only approach wholly inadequate. I understand that breaking out recipients using more refined categories is a challenge, but I think this is one of those times that requires more than the simplest approach. Lives are at stake, and we really need to think about those keeping our society functioning through these very difficult times.



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