Governor Chris Sununu’s re-election campaign this week disclosed receiving new contributions totaling $8,700 last month from thirteen executives at Eversource, New Hampshire’s largest electric utility and a top donor to Sununu’s campaigns.
James Judge, the CEO of Eversource, contributed $1,000 to Sununu’s campaign in October.
William Quinlan, the president of Eversource New Hampshire, also contributed $1,000 to Sununu. Quinlan made headlines last year when he co-hosted a fundraiser for the governor.
Phil Lembo, Eversource CFO, kicked in another $1,000.
Margaret Morton, the utility’s vice president of government affairs, gave $500 to the Sununu campaign.
The remainder came from VP-level executives at Eversource.
The Sununu campaign listed the contributions in a new campaign finance report filed with the Secretary of State on Wednesday. They were first reported by the website NHnotforsale.com, which is run by Sheridan Brown, a local attorney and former U.S. Senate aide to the governor’s brother, John E. Sununu.
Brown points to Sununu’s “steadfast support for Eversource and its unpopular Northern Pass project” on his site. Sununu reiterated his support for the transmission project, which would import hydropower from Canada to New England’s grid, at a debate last night. His opponent, Democrat Molly Kelly, opposes the project.
Kelly has made an issue of Sununu’s campaign contributions from Eversource and his veto of a bipartisan net metering bill that the utility opposed.
“I in this campaign for governor have not taken one dollar from corporations, not one dollar,” Kelly said during last night’s debate. “My opponent has.”
“He did receive over $50,000 from Eversource, and I think it’s not any coincidence that then he vetoed the renewable energy bill that would expand renewable energy here in our state,’’ she continued.
Kelly acknowledged that she received some campaign money from Eversource in the past, while serving in the state Senate, during a candidate forum last week hosted by NHPR. While Kelly has not taken money from corporate political action committees during her current campaign for governor, she has received a few contributions from employees of other electric utilities, including a total of $250 from Unitil’s Chief Regulatory Attorney Gary Epler that was also disclosed in a campaign finance report on Wednesday.
“To get the full picture of Eversource’s campaign cash, one must also look at contributions from Eversource, its executives, and Northern Pass lobbyists,” according to Brown’s website.
Brown found $118,650 in contributions to Sununu’s campaigns and his inaugural committee over the course of 2018 and the last several years, based on this criteria. He ranked Eversource as Sununu’s top contributor.
Brown ranked NextEra Energy as Sununu’s second largest political donor. Sununu’s brother works as an Adjunct Senior Policy Advisor for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a lobbying firm that counts NextEra among its clients.
A ten year energy strategy that Governor Sununu rolled out this year recommended that the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard be rewritten to incentivize nuclear power, in order to preserve Seabrook Station. The plan also emphasized the development of new pipelines for natural gas and made little mention of climate change.
Renewable energy and climate change are issues in the governor’s race
A group of state legislators released an alternative energy plan this month with the goal of moving the state to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 to help address climate change.
“My opponent has real doubts about the fact that climate change is caused by human behavior, but we do know that,” Kelly said.
“So we need an energy plan that’s based on science and fact, and we need to move our state from fossil fuel to renewable energy, and I know how to do that,” she said.
“Humans have contributed to climate change,” Sununu responded. “That is not a question.”