Episode 5: Power Struggle

NEXT New England
NEXT New England
Episode 5: Power Struggle

This hour, we look at racial disparities in the criminal justice system in one of the country’s whitest states. Plus, innovations in renewable energy technology are advancing in New England, but can ye olde grid adapt? And do you know what it takes to maintain a mountain trail? A whole lot of muscle, and some mohawks thrown in for good measure.

From Arrests to Incarceration, Racial Disparities in New Hampshire Increase

Hillsborough County House of Corrections, known as the Valley Street jail, is located in downtown Manchester. Credit: Emily Corwin/ NHPR

Hillsborough County House of Corrections, known as the Valley Street jail, is located in downtown Manchester. (Emily Corwin/NHPR)

On our first episode, we looked at data that shows Black and Hispanic motorists are pulled over at a much higher rate than white drivers in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont. This hour, reporter Emily Corwin of New Hampshire Public Radio shares the findings of her investigation into arrest and incarceration rates in that state’s most populous and diverse county.

In Hillsborough County, Hispanics and Blacks make up only eight percent of the population. But those two groups make up 16 percent of arrestees, and 27 percent of those held in jail before trial.

We also hear from local police and leaders in the Black community on common ground — and where they diverge.

Read Emily’s analysis here.


Credit: Sarah Plourde

(Sarah Plourde)

Flipping the Switch on Renewable Energy in New England

New England’s relationship with renewable energy is complicated. Our region has set very high goals for itself to reduce carbon emissions and curb climate change. We have high electric bills, and a power grid that needs constant attention and upgrades.

Credit: ISO New England

(ISO New England)

You’ve probably seen wind or solar projects go up somewhere near you in recent years, or you’ve heard about battles over where to put projects like these.

But all of this development of renewable resources hasn’t really changed the energy mix all that much yet.

New England now gets about half of its energy from natural gas, but less than 10 percent from its renewables, like solar and wind.

Vermont Electric Cooperative's Dan McMullen keeps a close eye on screens that show the electrons flowing in and out of the co-op's northern Vermont territory. Credit: John Dillon/VPR

Vermont Electric Cooperative’s Dan McMullen keeps a close eye on screens that show the electrons flowing in and out of the co-op’s northern Vermont territory. (John Dillon/VPR)

As we heard last week, offshore wind power is only starting to be used, and it’s hard to find room for wind projects in southern New England States.

At the same time, political pressures are moving the debate over energy. A new energy bill in Massachusetts seems to have primed that state for more development of wind and solar, just as the state supreme court dealt a blow to new natural gas pipeline plans.

All of these stories coming together at once form the the basis of the NENC’s latest series, The Big Switch: New England’s Energy Moment.

We asked Prabhakar Singh, Director of the Center for Clean Energy Engineering at the University of Connecticut, to walk us through some of the challenges and new technologies.

The Trail “Fixing” Crew in New Hampshire’s White Mountains

The TFC in the Mahoosucs. Credit: Bob Watts

The TFC in the Mahoosucs. (Bob Watts)

Remember this guy? Notice anything different?

Remember this guy? Notice anything different?

A footpath in the forest may feel like as far away from the world of human work as you can get, but clearing and maintaining that trail takes some serious muscle. In the White Mountains, the men and women who do that work have quite the reputation.

From New Hampshire Public Radio’s podcast Outside/In, host Sam Evans Brown has this tale of the most legendary trail crew this side of the Mississippi, the TFC.

Be sure to visit the Outside/In website for photos galore from the crew’s 97-year history.

About NEXT

NEXT is produced at WNPR.
Host: John Dankosky
Producer: Andrea Muraskin
Executive Producer: Catie Talarski
Digital Content Manager/Editor: Heather Brandon
Contributors to this episode: Emily Corwin, Sam Evans-Brown, John Dillon, Kathleen Masterson, Fred Bever, Logan Shannon, and Cordelia Zars
Music: Todd Merrell, Lightning on a Blue Sky by Twin Musicom, New England by Goodnight Blue Moon

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