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Report: NH Spends $37 Million a Year to Import Coal

January 20, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. - New England is far less reliant on coal-fired power than much of the nation, but a new report has found that New Hampshire is among the states in the region that still spend tens of millions of dollars a year to import coal for use in local power plants.

Jeff Deyette is the assistant director for Energy Research and Analysis with the Union of Concerned Scientists. He said Massachusetts has the largest appetite for imported coal in New England, spending $48 million in 2012, and the Granite State is not far behind.

"Coal-power facilities there spent around $37 million to import coal, all from the Appalachian region of the United States - from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the western parts of Virginia," Deyette said.

Deyette credited New Hampshire with doing a good job of diversifying its energy portfolio, but he pointed out that those millions going out of state could be supporting renewable energy growth at home. The report, "Burning Coal, Burning Cash," ranked New Hampshire 33rd in the nation in terms of its dependence on imported coal.

When most people think of "coal states," major producers of coal like Kentucky and West Virginia come to mind. However, Deyette said, many more states are consumers of coal. The northeastern states spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to bring domestic and foreign coal to local power plants, he noted.

"That's money that is draining out of our economy when it could be better invested in resources that we do have here in the region," he pointed out, "resources like wind and solar, and lots and lots of untapped energy efficiency potential."

Deyette said coal fueled about half of the nation's power plants five years ago. Today, reliance on coal has dropped to about 37 percent.

A link to the report and additional information are available from the Union of Concerned Scientists at www.ucsusa.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH