2 New Hampshire biomass energy plants close

By New Hampshire Timber Owners Association | October 21, 2019

Two of New Hampshire's six independent biomass energy plants—Springfield Power and DG Whitefield—announced in mid-October that they are closing and will lay off staff. Each plant employs 20 full-time workers in rural Springfield and Whitefield, New Hampshire. The plants had been in operation since the mid-1980s

The plants announced the closures after the New Hampshire legislature failed to override Gov. Chris Sununu's veto of House Bill 183, which passed both the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan majorities and which would have guaranteed the plants' continued operation for at least three years.

"We are disappointed that this important jobs and forestry solution was turned into a political control battle," said Edward Kent, president of EWP Renewable Corp., the owner of both plants. "The New Hampshire people elected their representatives to impose the will of their constituents.  We thank those lawmakers who had the courage to vote their conscience and support their constituents." 

"The N.H. Legislature understood the importance of supporting biomass when it passed HB 183 this year and Senate Bill 365 last year," stated Jasen Stock, executive director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association. "Un fortunately, we are now seeing the consequences of the veto. Moreover, the impacts from the closures of the Springfield and Whitefield energy plants extend well beyond the power plants themselves, as we have already seen timber and logging companies throttling back operations and laying-off crews. The impacts reach timberland owners, too: Without viable markets for low-grade wood, which the biomass plants provide, it is difficult for landowners to economically practice sustainable forestry."

According to a 2016 economic analysis by Plymouth State University, the six independent biomass power plants covered in HB 183 support 931 jobs in total, counting direct staff positions and jobs at supporting companies such as equipment suppliers, gas stations, and local restaurants, and produce $254.5 million in annual economic activity. Moreover, biomass power plants consume more than 40 percent of all the low-grade timber harvested each year in New Hampshire. 

At the now-closed Springfield and Whitefield plants, the New Hampshire Employment Security agency has been working to find new positions for the employees who are out of work as a result of the closures.