David Worthen and Jim O’Brien: New Hampshire’s Energy Future is Now

New Hampshire’s energy challenges are complex — with cost, reliability and access to new forms of energy generation comprising just a few of the challenges facing businesses in our state.

Manufacturing facilities like Worthen Industries are energy intensive, and to remain competitive in the global economy, we have a pressing need to find ways to control costs. As responsible and concerned citizens, we also have a responsibility to operate our facilities and invest our resources sustainably.

At Worthen, we are proud of the improvements we have made to enable us to reduce our energy costs. Over the past few years, we have invested in improved insulation, high efficiency LED lighting, and installing a 2,710-panel solar array that generates half our on-site electricity requirements.

Investing in these clean energy solutions has drastically reduced the amount of working capital we spend on electricity, allowing us to invest more in personnel and equipment. Incentives enabled by existing energy policies make the return on investment short enough to allow serious consideration by businesses.

With our partners at The Nature Conservancy, Worthen Industries hosted Gov. Chris Sununu, state Sen. Kevin Avard, and more than 30 business leaders and municipal officials from across the state for a discussion on the energy challenges and opportunities faced by the state’s business community.

While we didn’t agree on everything, what emerged from the discussion was the need to develop a smart, practical, and economically viable path forward to encourage businesses and municipalities to adopt energy efficiency measures and renewable energy solutions that reduce costs and help protect our natural resources.

We also discussed the fact that good-paying jobs in the clean-tech industry are growing rapidly in states all around us. We agreed that now is the time for New Hampshire to get serious about our energy future.

We are committed to working with the governor, forward-thinking legislators like Sen. Avard, and the New Hampshire business community to develop an energy policy framework that powers New Hampshire forward. Such a platform will help drive meaningful and robust public and private investment in energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies to help customers control costs.

It will enable the state to invest in needed infrastructure improvements like electric vehicle stations and a modern grid to take advantage of new economic opportunities. A comprehensive policy framework will also need to look at the state’s regulatory environment and make needed adjustments so that clean energy is treated on a level playing field.

Finally, the state needs to find ways to encourage the growth of new businesses in New Hampshire, creating jobs in the growing clean-tech industry. We have done it before to attract biotechnology and high-tech companies — we can be leaders in clean-tech as well.

Thankfully, the state is well positioned to advance such an agenda. We feel strongly that we have political leaders in Concord who will work with us to advance a proactive policy agenda that will bring a reliable, affordable clean energy future for New Hampshire.

David Worthen is chief executive officer of Worthen Industries. Jim O’Brien is director of external affairs at The Nature Conservancy, New Hampshire.