Senator Shaheen talks energy, education, and tourism
|Chris Diego, managing director of the Mountain View Grand Resort, leads Senator Jeanne Shaheen and her team on a tour of the hotel as Representative Bill Remick of Lancaster looks on. The Senator toured the hotel last Friday and spoke about the strides the resort has made in consuming green energy. (Photo by Kayti Burt) (click for larger version)|
February 03, 2010WHITEFIELD — Senator Jeanne Shaheen braved the North Country's bitter winter winds last Friday to recognize the strides in clean energy the Mountain View Grand (MVG) has made over the past few years.
The hotel was recently certified "100% Green Power Purchaser" by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of the agency's Green Power Partnership program. MVG was one of only seven companies in the state – and the only hotel – to earn the certification.
Senator Shaheen praised MVG Managing Director Chris Diego and the hotel for their efforts in clean energy. Calling the resort "a symbol of the potential for America's clean energy economy," Senator Shaheen outlined the benefits businesses that rely on clean energy bring to our state and country: the creation of new jobs, the prevention of environmentally harmful emissions, and the limitation of our country's dependence on foreign oil.
"You're seeing first-hand some of the benefits here," said Senator Shaheen during the course of her remarks in the hotel's Eisenhower Library. "Today, driving through the Notch and looking at how clear it was, you really appreciate the benefits of saving all those emissions. The jobs that are created as a result of those new energy technologies are going to be so important. And, it reduces our dependence on oil from overseas," an issue Senator Shaheen related directly to our national security.
"We are honored to have hosted Senator Shaheen at the hotel today and appreciate her legislative efforts to enhance our region's economy through increased tourism," said Mr. Diego in a news release from the Senator's office. Despite the frigid temperatures, Mr. Diego gave the Senator and her team a personal tour of the hotel and grounds.
The hotel's 121-foot wind turbine was a much-discussed topic of the afternoon. Erected in September, the turbine generates an energy amount equivalent to 185 passenger cars or 126 homes a year. As highlighted by both Mr. Diego and Senator Shaheen, the turbine is only one of the many environmentally sustainable projects the hotel has undertaken,
"I was particularly impressed as I was reading my briefing not just about your efforts for energy use – and, of course, the windmill that we saw as we came in is a big piece of that – but some of the other sustainable energy efforts you have underway: your recycling effort and my favorite, the sheep," said Senator Shaheen, referring to the Leicester Longwool sheep, a critically endangered breed the MVG raises on their grounds.
Senator Shaheen took a moment to recognize two other efforts also underway: the Mountain View Academy program and the Travel Promotion Act.
Mountain View Academy, a learning partnership between the White Mountains Regional High School and the MVG, teaches students the hospitality business. Lisa Perras, the White Mountains Regional High School (WMRHS) business teacher who runs the Mountain View Academy, detailed the program's progression since its inception five years ago.
"The Mountain View Academy is really three-fold now. It has grown from a high school management program. We now have a program for foreign students who can come here on educational visas, and we're expanding this year into post-secondary working with White Mountains Community College," said Ms. Perras.
"The goal really is to keep our students in the North Country, stop that exodus of our best and brightest. That's good for economic development. It's good for the social structure of the North Country," said Ms. Perras, emphasizing the program's importance for New Hampshire's future, a sentiment Senator Shaheen echoed.
Efforts like the Mountain View Academy are "going to be particularly important to the economy of the North Country and to our tourism efforts here in the state," said Senator Shaheen,
The Senator has been active with her own efforts to increase tourism in the state by focusing on the Travel Promotion Act currently in Congress. If passed, the act would set up a department specifically charged with promoting tourism in America internationally. The independent corporation would be funded through an added tax on the visas foreigners apply for when visiting the U.S.
"A ten-dollar fee would provide up to 100 million dollars a year to be used for promotion of this country overseas," explained Senator Shaheen. "When I was governor, I learned the real benefits of international tourism because international visitors stay longer and spend more money."
Lori Harnois of the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism applauded Senator Shaheen's work.
"I just wanted to say thank you so much for all your effort with the Travel Promotion Act. For those who don't know, the U.S. is the only nation that does not have a unified voice in promoting our country as a travel destination, so we really appreciate all of the effort that you done for that."
The Travel Promotion Act has been passed in the Senate, but not in the House of Representatives.
"Hopefully, we're going to be able to get that done this year," Senator Shaheen said.