New Hampshire to Study Renewable Energy

It’s been a good week for energy efficiency and renewable energy in the state of New Hampshire. Governor John Lynch signed into law a bill to create a committee to study incentives for renewable energy generation in the state. This comes on the heels of announcing an Executive Order for state agencies to decrease their energy usage over time by 10 percent, and announcing a new position for the state’s first ever Energy Manager.

The establishment of a renewable energy committee is not a monumental move, but it’s a promising new step for the state which could help put it in line with nearby states. New Hampshire has the distinction of doing relatively little to promote renewable energy while being surrounded by states that offer strong renewable energy legislation and have shown considerable progress in deploying projects. After Vermont’s passage last month of a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), New Hampshire is the only state in the Northeast without a renewable portfolio standard that requires a mandatory percentage of renewable energy generation. Two weeks ago, Maine, which already has a strong RPS, announced a solar rebate program with a focus on solar thermal hot water technologies (for more information on both these items, see the following two links below). New Hampshire’s committee will be set to task on assessing the current state of technology of wind, solar, hydro, biomass and geoexchange generation in the state, as well as the potential of deep geothermal sites, and will report their findings to the legislature by November 1. The committee will also gather data on potential wind farms and will study the practicality of solar technology for individual buildings as well as for utility-scale plants. A windfarm has already been proposed for the town of Lempster, and many local homes have installed solar panels. New Hampshire has an abundance of small-scale hydro facilities, and the policies for preserving these resources and developing new ones will be reviewed. Although the bill states that any incentives that are developed must not create additional taxes or fees for the citizens, the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association (NHSEA) says the research into the state’s renewable generation will provide a foundation on which to build future legislation. The Association, the NH chapter of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, had originally sponsored a bill to use a portion of the Systems Benefit Charge to cover renewable energy systems. Although that bill was voted down, the study of renewable incentives was kept alive by folding it into HB185, originally only concerned with the study of deep drilling for geothermal energy.

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