The premiers of the Eastern Canadian provinces and governors of the New England states said Monday that delivering clean energy to this corner of the United States is one of the most important issues facing the region.
Energy and economic collaboration were the main topics at a two-day conference between the five premiers and six governors that wrapped up Monday at New Hampshire's Mount Washington Resort.
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Eastern Canada is rich in hydropower while New England markets are eager to shore up supply and control some of the nation's highest energy costs. The six states have agreed to work together to increase supply and control costs.
In a conference call after the gathering, the leaders stressed that any energy solutions would focus on increased efficiency and protecting the interests of each state and province individually. They said they see the issue of energy as bedrock for fostering greater economic cooperation and growth in the provinces and states.
"Certainly we have a region of our country where we are facing increasingly expensive energy costs," said New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, who hosted the conference. "We need to increase our energy efficiency efforts as well as create a more diverse, clean energy portfolio."
"The regulators also understand that what this is all really about is economic development and the capacity for our businesses to create jobs and for our people to flourish," she said.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy noted that several power generators, including the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant and other conventional plants in Massachusetts, are slated to close in the coming year, adding stress to the energy grid and underscoring the need for cross-border cooperation.
"New England is a particularly strained region," Malloy said.
Malloy and Hassan said the rights and needs of each state and province will guide any decisions about power.
Two contentious topics were also discussed: the proposed Northern Pass transmission lines that would deliver Canadian hydropower through New Hampshire and the prospect of oil derived from tar sands in Alberta that could be transported by pipeline into the United States. The Tar Sands Free Northeast Coalition conducted a protest and the Appalachian Mountain Club submitted a letter protesting Northern Pass.
Tom Marshall, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, pointed out that hydropower is "safe, reliable and clean" while Hassan said she thinks a compromise is attainable.
"I think it's quite possible to have excellent and reliable transmission for hydropower without sacrificing our natural beauty and without sacrificing our tourism industry," she said.