The brutal January cold snap we’re in the midst of, combined with insufficient pipeline capacity caused by New England’s increased dependency on natural gas, has put a historic strain on the power grid in New England, so much so that Public Service Company of New Hampshire has fired up literally all of its power generating plants, including generators powered by jet fuel.  Utility officials say the power grid’s governing body I S O New England asked P S N H to fire up all of their larger power-generating facilities at Merrimack Station in Bow, Schiller Station in Portsmouth, Newington Station, as well as infrequently-used combustion turbine facilities, those are the ones that use jet fuel, at Merrimack Station, Lost Nation in Groveton, and White Lake in Tamworth for an extended period of time.   The utility said it’s rare when they start the jet fuel turbines and they do so only for very brief periods of time, not the fifteen hours I S O requested a day in advance.  They don’t think that request has ever been made.  The reason for the request is that seventy five percent of the region’s natural gas fueled power plants were taken off line, either because of inadequate supply to run them or sky high costs.  Natural gas prices experienced a massive spike, going up ten fold.  P S N H, which has been criticized for continuing to own power generation facilities, it’s the last utility in New England to own its own power plants, and for having coal and oil fired plants, said their facilities are performing well, providing necessary power to New Hampshire homes and keeping prices stable.  We’ve uploaded their release with all the details.  It provides a fascinating look at the dynamics of power production and proves a point P S N H has been warning about through all the criticism:  Over reliance on any one method of power production, no matter what it is, is bad.

Casino Free New Hampshire and the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling are asking for the public’s help to defeat a bill they say will be a disaster for the state.  The anti-gambling groups say House Bill sixteen thirty three, known as the Ames Bill, adds a regulatory structure and espouses a one-casino package designed for one company, Millennium Gaming, and one location, Rockingham Park in Salem.  They claim arm twisting by Governor Margaret Wood Hassan and the bill’s siren song of revenue has lured several reps who have voted against casinos in the past to reconsider their opposition.  Noting gambling revenue declines in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York and a state funded bailout of the casinos in Delaware, they say the state is asking for revenue it won’t get, aggravating already troubling budget problems.  We’ve posted their release with their contact information so you can step forward and help keep N’Hampsha N’Hampsha.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Manchester School Superintendent Debra Livingston is asking for patience as the school district continues its bid to develop new academic standards for the city’s schools.  Livingston  defended their decision to use the Common Core national standards as the basis for their work stating they needed to start somewhere and that there really wasn’t a whole lot of difference between them and the standards New Hampshire had in place beforehand.  Assistant Superintendent David Ryan said he chose Dr. Althea Sheaff, the retired Nashua Assistant Superintendent of Schools who aligned that district to Common Core and his former boss, to lead the December workshop on standards was made because he knew her and was comfortable working with her.  Both he and Livingston said it was important for the standard writers to become familiar with Common Core because they were to be the basis for the new standard’s development and because, frankly, most of the participants in the process were unfamiliar with what standards generally were, how to read them, how to develop them and how to differentiate them from curriculum.  In a rather candid face to face interview yesterday, we were also told that our questions regarding the district-wide standardized tests we received via a Right to Know request were being referred to their K through 5 curriculum specialists and said they were uncertain how long the district had been using the trimester testing, but would research that and get back to me.  They claimed that while the tests predated their arrival in the district, not all schools chose to use them, which might explain why we’re hearing from teachers about this never before seen test.  We’ll have more on this during the show.

The town of Hooksett may have yet another problem on its hands.  A review of the January sixth minutes of the Supervisors of the Checklist meeting shows they’re awaiting proof of citizenship on several voters who have yet to reply to letters sent by the supervisors.  Guess this signing the purple piece of paper thing when someone refuses to provide proof of address or identity is working out really great for the state of NH, huh?  Weee juusst might have something to say about this, too.

That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead.