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Shaheen Calls Renewable Energy Use Priority

Senator Says Millions Of Jobs Can Be Created In Energy Industries

BEDFORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said Monday that upgrading the nation's aging transmission system, helping clean energy companies succeed and establishing a national standard for renewable energy use are her priorities for the upcoming energy bill.

Shaheen gave her first major speech on national energy policy Monday at the New Hampshire Forum on the Future at the Bedford Village Inn.

Shaheen, a member of the Senate Energy Committee, also said small and large manufacturers alike need help with financing to become more energy-efficient so they can cut costs and become more competitive globally. And a skilled work force is needed to make homes and businesses energy-efficient, too, she said.

She said millions of new jobs will be created in alternative energy and energy efficiency. She said the United States is already competing for those jobs and is behind countries such as China and Germany.

"At a time when unemployment is spiking, businesses are struggling, and families are making difficult choices just to get by, our only option is to confront our energy challenges head-on and make significant investments in our nation's future," she said in prepared remarks.

Shaheen said New Hampshire is especially vulnerable to the nation's energy policies. According to the Energy Department, it is one of the nation's most petroleum-dependent states because of its reliance on oil to heat homes. Demand for electricity is also on the rise, she said.

"We need to invest in new energy technology not only to meet these increased demands, but also to mitigate against the threats of climate change," she said.

She lauded efforts by local companies and programs for helping the state and national transition to a clean energy future, such as GT Solar in Merrimack, which makes equipment for solar panels, and Segway, which has introduced the PUMA, a zero-emissions, two-seat electric vehicle.

But, she said, change can be as simple as "taking what we know and making it better by being more efficient and more sustainable in the way we think about and use energy and our natural resources," such as using New Hampshire forest byproducts to create energy.

Shaheen said all of these initiatives will help create more jobs, but "we are going to have to negotiate and compromise," she said of her colleagues in Washington.

"In Washington, I've found there aren't just partisan differences, there are geographic differences, as well," she said. "For example, biomass is an important resource to us in New Hampshire, and I'm working to make sure it's utilized in the best, most efficient way in the energy bill. In Michigan, they're concerned about advanced fuel cell batteries, and in the Dakotas, wind is a priority."