Janet Ward, a friend of ReVision Energy in Concord, New Hampshire, recently alerted us to some questionable legislation making its way through the New Hampshire State Senate.

Bill SB 334, which states that it is “encouraging the installation and use of small scale renewable energy resources by homeowners and businesses,” is coming under fire because it would allow Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) to divert $5 million of money that should purchase renewable energy credits for a single solar development project in Manchester.

As reported from the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association:

PSNH is asking the New Hampshire House of Representatives for permission to fund a single solar energy project in Manchester with funds it is supposed to use to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates or pay into the State’s Renewable Energy Fund(REF).

The REF funds are intended to be available throughout the State for renewable energy projects to benefit residents, small businesses, and municipalities. The funds are vital to the small businesses which are building New Hampshire’s green economy.

The PSNH project, funded via the RPS program, undermines investment in New Hampshire’s small business future.

The bit of legislation that is causing the controversy:

In lieu of PSNH making payments under RSA 362-F:10 for class II electric renewable energy standard obligations or purchasing certificates, as defined in RSA 362-F:2, III, to comply with RSA 362-F class II electric renewable energy standard obligations, beginning upon the effective date of this act PSNH shall retain such payments and utilize $5,000,000 of such amounts to invest in the development of the solar photovoltaic renewable energy project in Manchester. The amounts retained by PSNH shall be used to amortize the outstanding capital investment for the project. When the nominal payments retained by PSNH equal $5,000,000, PSNH shall return to routine compliance with RSA 362-F:10 for going-forward class II electric renewable energy standard obligations.

What This Means

Under current law, the $5,000,000 would go towards the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (the Renewable Portfolio Standard or RPS) or pay into the New Hampshire’s Renewable Energy Fund (REF).

According to The Green Energy Times, “The REF funds are intended to be available throughout the State for renewable energy projects which benefit residents, small businesses, and municipalities. The funds are vital to the small businesses which are building New Hampshire’s green economy.”

In other words, the act would allow PSNH to create their own special project and avoid the current process, which incentivizes small businesses and entrepreneurs to create renewable energy projects, and drives a competitive renewable energy marketplace.

RPS requires New Hampshire to generate 16 percent of new energy from renewable resources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydro by 2025, and Renewable Energy World predicts New Hampshire’s energy will be 22-25% renewable by 2025 should the effort be successful.

Performance requirements for the PSNH project are not defined in the bill, though there is some verbiage in the Bill that suggests that performance of the PSNH project would be subject to review.

Opponents to SB 334 claim that the RPS program has led to regular employment for 126 electricians and solar installers and grants for more than 270 renewable energy projects across New Hampshire. In contrast, they claim that the PSNH project will create only five full jobs a year, “at a cost of $1 million per full-time position.”

What You Can Do

ReVision Energy encourages you to read about the legislation and then take action – there is a great amount of information as well as links to newspaper articles and opinion pieces at http://www.nhsea.org/public-policy.php.

You can contact members of the New Hampshire House Science, Energy and Technology Committee via e-mail: [email protected] or visit the New Hampshire House website for for complete contact information for the Committee.

Most importantly, you can attend the Committee’s Public Hearing on SB 334, which will be held this Thursday, April 15 at 1pm in room 304 of the Legislative Office Building, 33 North State Street, Concord, New Hampshire (map and directions).