One of the economic challenges facing Northern New England is very high electricity prices. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as of April 2010, residential electricity prices were the highest in New Hampshire at 16.26 cents/kWh (6th highest in the country) followed by Vermont at 15.82 cents/kWh (8th highest it the country) and in Maine at 15.51 cents/kWh (10th highest in the country). This is more than twice as expensive as the lowest cost state in the country–Idaho at 7.88 cents/kWh.
However, this does not have to be the case. Why? Well, the region is famous for its old mills that take advantage of the multitude of rivers and streams that exists. Now, micro hydro-power is on the up-swing. For example, a quick google search turned up this company in Maine that specializes in micro hydro-power: Katahdin Energy Works. Or, if you have $129,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you can own your very own mill in Haverhill, New Hampshire that still has its old dam still pretty much in place.
Ironically, this “back-to-future” movement may be just the ticket for helping the region to boost its economic competitiveness. Additionally, lower energy costs would help historical preservation since heating costs are a significant downside for many folks in terms of investing in historical housing. Lower energy costs would help equalize the playing field between older and newer homes.