The Bulletin Board

An energy efficiency plan for New Hampshire

By: - May 3, 2022 4:29 pm
Power lines

Energy efficiency is one way ratepayers can save money on high electricity and home heating costs. (Getty Images)

A new state energy efficiency plan has been approved by the Public Utilities Commission, per an order issued late last week that authorizes spending $223.7 million across seven energy efficiency programs through 2023.

The approved plan includes residential as well as commercial and industrial programs, with rebates and incentives covering things like home and building weatherization, heating and hot water equipment upgrades, lighting improvements, and energy-efficient appliances.

It also includes $3.9 million for a municipal program to help cities and towns improve the efficiency of municipal and school buildings.

The state was supposed to create a triennial plan for 2021-2023, but the utilities commission delayed that decision for nearly a year and ultimately rejected the plan, which proposed spending $378 million. Instead, commissioners proposed a different plan to reduce funding, leading to legislative and legal action after energy efficiency contractors said it would force them to close their businesses.

In rejecting the triennial plan, the commission cited the cost and the impact it would have had on ratepayers. Most of the funding for state energy efficiency programs comes from charges to ratepayers. Electric customers pay what’s called the System Benefits Charge, and natural gas customers pay a Local Distribution Adjustment Charge. For a typical household, the plan would’ve cost a few dollars a month.

But energy efficiency is one way ratepayers can save money on high electricity and home heating costs. Using less energy saves money for a household or business that uses the program, and it can also drive down energy demand, which can help keep costs down for everyone. And using less energy is an important climate measure because it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. 

The funding for the new plan is based on a bill that was passed into law this year, House Bill 549. The law sets rates for the program at the same level as 2020 and 2021, with incremental increases in upcoming years based on inflation.  

According to the decision, “All pending litigation has been resolved or withdrawn as of the date of this order.”

The 2022-2023 plan received broad support from the state’s utilities, as well as the Department of Energy, the Department of Environmental Services, and the Office of the Consumer Advocate. The Conservation Law Foundation, Southern New Hampshire Services, LISTEN Community Services, and Clean Energy New Hampshire also supported the plan, according to the order.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee reported on energy and environment for New Hampshire Bulletin. She also previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.