Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cinde Warmington released her CLEAN Energy Economy Plan last week, a proposal she pledged would “lead New Hampshire to net zero emissions by 2040.”

That means zero home heating oil, zero natural gas, and zero internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the Granite State, all within 15 years of a Governor Warmington taking office. Her plan is 10 years more aggressive than Massachusetts’, where New Hampshire’s deep-blue neighbor has pledged to achieve “Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050.”

Warmington refused to answer any questions about the specifics of her proposal or explain how a state where nearly 60 percent of households burn fuel oil, propane, or kerosene for heat would convert entirely to electricity by 2040.

“It’s going to take bold action to take the threat of climate change,” she acknowledged in her press release.

“Gov. Sununu has held New Hampshire back by failing to capitalize on the growth that abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy can provide to the Granite State,” Warmington said. “As governor, I will implement a CLEAN Energy Economy Plan to propel New Hampshire into a stronger, brighter, and more sustainable future.”

Warmington’s CLEAN Energy Economy Plan calls for New Hampshire to:

  • Create standards that lead New Hampshire to net zero emissions by 2040;
  • Invest in renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, with grid modernization, distribution planning, and storage;
  • Create incentives for consumer purchase of electric passenger vehicles;
  • Expand public transportation and other alternative transportation options;
  • Work with local unions to provide apprenticeships for Granite Staters interested in renewable energy to build the clean energy workforce New Hampshire needs.

Missing from Warmington’s proposal: any reference to how much it would cost taxpayers and ratepayers to convert the state’s $5.6 billion a year in energy consumption entirely to electricity. Asked for an estimate, Warmington declined to respond.

Under Warmington’s timetable, a child born today would attend high school — presumably arriving each morning in an EV school bus — in a net carbon-zero New Hampshire.

Can wind power, EV subsidies, more mass transit, and new union jobs accomplish that?

Energy experts who spoke to NHJournal say it’s unlikely.

“Unfortunately, this is just another example of candidates for office putting forth energy policies without any plans to support them or understanding of the impacts on families,” said Marc Brown with Consumer Energy Alliance.

“There are no cost estimates in this plan nor any details on how to achieve her stated ‘goals.’ Councilor Warmington’s energy plan will increase costs for families and businesses and will do nothing to improve the reliability or resiliency of our electricity grid.”

State Rep. Kat McGhee (D-Hollis), the ranking member of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee, supports Warmington’s plan.

“Her strategic vision to create jobs and strengthen New Hampshire’s economy by lowering our carbon footprint will boost homegrown energy production, expand collaborations with producers and businesses, and inspire crucial workforce development,” McGhee said in a statement.

But the chairman of that same committee, Rep. Michael Vose (R- Epping), tells NHJournal that Warmington’s proposal “isn’t a plan. It’s a dream.”

“Warmington never mentions that it comes with higher taxes, fees, and energy costs for New Hampshire families and businesses. That can be the only outcome because expanded energy efficiency programs already cost electricity ratepayers $80 million each year. How can government regulations promote private investment? Only by giving tax breaks, which raises taxes for everyone else.”

Vose said the plan has one good point: “It doesn’t mention battery storage, which today costs an eye-popping $140/kwh versus the average homeowner cost of 11 cents.”

Warmington is hardly alone in her party in calling for a zero-carbon economy. President Joe Biden revoked approval for the Keystone XL pipeline and imposed a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal property his first day in office. On Friday, the White House announced it is revoking a plan that’s been in place since 1923, allowing energy development in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, which contains an estimated 17 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

And while Warmington’s opponent in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, would not respond to NHJournal’s requests for comment, she has said New Hampshire should “prioritize increasing renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions.”

One major challenge the Democrats face in New Hampshire is the massive amount of electricity it would take to replace oil and propane — two very efficient heating sources — with far less efficient electricity, particularly during periods of bitter cold. The New England power grid already struggles to meet demand when temperatures plunge, notes Rep. Michael Harrington (R-Strafford), a former member of the state’s Public Utility Commission.

“She calls for a massive increase in consumption of electricity through electrification of transportation and electric heating but gives no specifics on how to produce the extra electricity,” said Harrington, “But there is no mention in Warmington’s proposal of the recent NERC [North American Electric Reliability Corporation] warning that New England is facing an electricity reliability crisis in the coming years.

“They recognize this crisis can only be avoided with a lot more dispatchable generation like natural gas and nuclear. We can’t rely on just intermittent generation like solar and wind.”

Not surprisingly, the Republicans running for governor are rejecting Warmington’s proposal.

“Granite Staters deserve a governor who will champion policies fostering individual and business success, not one entrenching government control through yet another taxpayer-funded boondoggle,” said Chuck Morse. “Cinde Warmington’s latest energy proposal advocates for unprecedented government intrusion on Granite Staters toward unsustainable green energy, sidestepping practical solutions to lower energy costs and spur economic growth.”