New Hampshire legislature overrides veto of biomass bill

By Erin Voegele | September 13, 2018

The New Hampshire legislature has successfully voted to override Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of Senate Bill 365, which will require electric utilities to purchase energy from six of the state’s independent biomass power plants for three years.  

SB 365 was originally passed by the state legislature in May. Sununu vetoed the bill on June 19. A two-thirds vote was needed in both the New Hampshire Senate and the New Hampshire House to override the veto.

State senators passed the veto override with a large majority, by a vote of 21-3. The vote was much closer in the House, where state representatives passed the override by an exact two-thirds majority with a vote of 226-113.

As previously reported by Biomass Magazine, a 2016 Plymouth State University economic study shows the six independent biomass power plants covered in Senate Bill 365 support 931 jobs and produce $254.5 million in annual economic activity. According to the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, these six biomass power plants consume more than 40 percent of all the low-grade timber harvested each year in New Hampshire. The NHTOA has also noted that “the low-grade markets these power plants support underpin the state’s forest products and sustainable forestry economy.”  

Carrie Annand, vice president of external affairs at the Biomass Power Association, has spoken out in support of the legislature’s action to override Sununu’s veto. “We are very pleased to see the outcome of the New Hampshire legislature vote today,” she said. “By passing SB 365, they supported biomass, a form of locally produced clean energy. Thanks to this vote, New Hampshire's biomass industry will continue to thrive, helping make the most of its forest resources, and benefitting the overall forest products industry.”

Jason Stock, executive director of the NHTOA, called the veto override vote a tremendous victory for the state’s timberland owners’ forest products industry and forests. “This override will enable the state’s land managers and owners to continue to do the sustainable forestry everyone wants to see,” he said. “We have a great a great tradition of maintaining our working forest and providing opportunities for outdoor recreation. Necessary for this ae markets for all grades and species of timber—biomass is an important part of our market structure.”