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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Havenstein says more nuclear should be in future energy mix

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN

Staff Writer

HUDSON – Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein said he believes in expansion of nuclear power as a safe energy source, but the solution lies in speeding up federal licensing of new plants.

The retired Alton defense contracting executive said he’d use the bully pulpit to get heads of successful firms to sponsor more scholarships for science, math, engineering and technology students who attend the University System of New Hampshire. ...

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HUDSON – Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein said he believes in expansion of nuclear power as a safe energy source, but the solution lies in speeding up federal licensing of new plants.

The retired Alton defense contracting executive said he’d use the bully pulpit to get heads of successful firms to sponsor more scholarships for science, math, engineering and technology students who attend the University System of New Hampshire.

Havenstein said current college loan programs are a national disgrace as they force too many parents to take out second and third home mortgages to finance college for their children.

“We seemed to have extended ourselves and taken real competition out of our marketplace,” Havenstein said. “We find ourselves with a product that is so grossly overpriced most average citizens in-state or out of state simply can’t afford it.”

New Hampshire students carry on average $33,000 in debt upon college graduation, the highest amount of any state in the country.

On nuclear power, Havenstein noted that his father worked for the U.S. Department of Energy dealing with spent nuclear fuel and for three weeks worked inside Three Mile Island, the Pennsylvania site of a disastrous nuclear meltdown March 28, 1979.

Havenstein called for public dialogue about bringing on line the second unfinished reactor at the nuclear power plant in Seabrook.

“If there is ever a safe energy source, that’s it,” Havenstein said. “Are there problems we have to deal with from time to time? Hey, we saw it Japan, TMI and Chernobyl, but the industry has an incredible safety record.

“We have a pad sitting out there. Before we throw out the baby with the bath water, we ought to think about that, have a conversation about it.”

Havenstein said he could produce a two-year state budget without any overall increase in spending that would maintain essential services.

The next governor and Legislature needs to find enough room in the next budget for some additional, big ticket spending items like the federal lawsuit settlement regarding care for the mentally ill that costs more than $20 million a year and a new way of taxing hospitals that will cost state coffers almost $50 million annually.

“I am not suggesting there won’t be some reductions in spending as a result of efficiencies I want to create,” Havenstein said. “I haven’t suggested any cuts. There may be at some point. There may be some additional spending that makes sense to me and the Legislature. I haven’t included that in my model.”

Havenstein said he could not say whether the Republican-led budget adopted in 2011 that cut state spending 11 percent was destructive.

“I hear the dialogue around that budget in particular. I don’t know the details of those reductions,” Havenstein said. “I reserve judgment whether that was a good thing for the state or a bad thing for the state. I will look at everything with a fresh look.”

Havenstein said the state’s high energy costs require the next governor to promote new sources of supply while ensuring the infrastructure doesn’t harm the state’s quality of life.

That’s why Havenstein said he called for building underground along public rights-of-way the Northern Pass project to bring cheaper hydro power from Quebec through the state to the New England grid.

Getting out of a regional greenhouse gas initiative would end the practice of using consumer’s money to pick winners and losers competing for energy efficiency projects, he added.

“It’s real simple. Yes, I believe mankind is having an impact on our climate. I’m not sure exactly what that impact is,” Havenstein said.

“Our response to that ought to be a balanced response. Right now, we are creating an inequitable balance to that, and we need our response to keep us competitive.”

Havenstein said Hassan and other supporters should drop their push casino because it would not create the kinds of jobs New Hampshire needs or be a reliable source of revenue.

“We have been distracted for years now on that issue,” Havenstein said. “If we were going to be in that business, we should have gotten into it 20 years ago. It is no longer a cash cow; it’s a cash sink.”

Kevin Landrigan can reached at
321-7040 or klandrigan@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).