Valley News Forum for June 6, 2023: Bad legislation ahead for NH ratepayers

Published: 06-06-2023 6:03 AM

Bad legislation ahead for New Hampshire ratepayers

You know how when something bad but preventable happens and people ask why wasn’t it stopped beforehand? That ability to stop something bad in advance is in danger of being taken away by the New Hampshire Legislature.

HB 281 is a bad bill. It eliminates “least-cost integrated resource planning,” or LCIRP, for New Hampshire utilities. LCIRP requires the utilities to submit to the Public Utilities Commission a plan describing how the utilities will meet — with the least cost to the ratepayers — the energy needs of their customers now and going forward. It also requires the utilities to take environmental effects into account.

Because the regulated utilities have a guaranteed return on their investments, if the LCIRP requirement goes by the wayside, then the utilities can spend much more than necessary and it will be the ratepayers — all of us — who are left holding the bag. Gov. Chris Sununu claims to be trying to reduce energy costs, yet repealing LCIRP is a priority of his. These positions are inconsistent, as eliminating LCIRP is at odds with lowering energy costs. Removing LCIRP is an even worse idea in light of SB 54, which will allow the utilities to enter into long-term supply contracts for up to 20% of the electricity supply for up to 20 years.

The New Hampshire Senate managed to make HB 281 even worse by tacking on two other bad bills: HB 251, which will add misleading information to your December electric bill, and HB 622, which will eliminate a board dedicated to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

HB 281 will be coming back to the House as early as June 8 for the House to concur with the Senate’s changes. If you live in New Hampshire, I urge you to contact your representatives to ask them to vote for non-concurrence.

New Hampshire state Rep. Tom Cormen

Lebanon Ward 3

Redefining merit

In “An opportunity to redefine merit” (Page C1, June 4), Wayne Gerson argues that since SAT tests cannot adequately measure the content of a student’s character, they cannot reliably show who is either best qualified for college or most deserving of it. But if colleges aim to judge applicants by means of character rather than SAT scores, they can’t just trade an “objective” criterion for a “subjective” one.

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For one thing, research has shown that class rank is a better predictor of college performance than SAT scores. Judging by class rank also mitigates the special advantage long enjoyed by graduates of elite prep schools when compared with graduates of ordinary public high schools.

Furthermore, David Brooks of the New York Times has recently argued that colleges should stop giving points for race (which may soon be wholly illegal) and start giving them for economic hardship: If an applicant’s family is poor, how well has he or she or they done to overcome its limitations? If such a student somehow earned top grades at an inner-city public high school, doesn’t he or she or they deserve at least as much respect as any student whom a rich family sent to Phillips Exeter?

At present, students from rich families get into college far more often than students from poor ones. Measuring character fairly will never be an exclusively numerical task, especially since a final judgment may well depend on the words of an applicant’s personal statement. But if “merit” cannot be measured by means of largely objective criteria, it cannot be measured fairly.

James Heffernan