The Bulletin Board

Business and Industry Association says it is opposed to energy efficiency program cuts

By: - December 15, 2021 1:38 pm
Power lines in the trees

The Business and Industry Association continues to oppose the doubling of energy efficiency programs. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)

The Business and Industry Association sent a letter to the Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday joining those who have asked the agency to suspend its decision to cut funding for state energy efficiency programs.

The letter was signed by David Juvet, interim president of the organization – which bills itself as a leading business advocate that represents over 400 employers in the state. Juvet said the uncertainty created by the order is harmful to businesses in the state.

“New Hampshire businesses need certainty and consistency regarding energy efficiency funding and programs. Operating without certainty and funding of energy efficiency programs will needlessly and wastefully contribute to the increased use of energy in the State of New Hampshire, and businesses will lose money in the long run without the benefits of these programs,” Juvet said in the letter.

The Business and Industry Association previously sent a letter to the utilities commission last November expressing concern about the economic harm of increasing funding for energy efficiency – a position it stood by in this week’s letter.

Juvet said the organization continues to oppose the doubling of energy efficiency programs, originally proposed in the triennial energy efficiency plan put forward by the state’s utilities last year. But, “BIA strongly supports energy efficiency, and fully opposes the significant reduction of funding for energy efficiency programs.”

The organization has undergone some recent staffing changes; previous president Jim Roche left in July to take a job in Maine. David Creer, former director of public policy, was replaced by Kirsten Koch.

Commissioner doesn’t plan to recuse himself

As more organizations voice opposition to the utilities commission decision, also at issue is whether the commission is in a position to legally make decisions. New Hampshire law requires at least two commissioners to sign off on orders from the body, and some stakeholders expected newly confirmed Commissioner Pradip Chattopadhyay to recuse himself from the matter.

But on Tuesday, Chattopadhyay submitted a memorandum explaining why he would not be recusing himself. Chattopadhyay previously worked at the Office of the Consumer Advocate, which has been closely involved in the energy efficiency proceedings since they began.

Chattopadhyay said that while his time at the Office of the Consumer Advocate overlapped with the energy efficiency proceedings, he wasn’t assigned to work on that plan. He said he doesn’t have substantive memories of office-wide staff meetings where the 2021-23 triennial energy efficiency plan was brought up.

“As a result of my employment with the OCA, I am not privy to any confidential, proprietary, or other information related to the 2021-23 Triennial Energy Plan that it would be inappropriate for me to know in my role as Commissioner. Nor has my prior employment with the OCA led me to in any way prejudge the merits of any of the issues presented in this docket,” he wrote.

In an email, Consumer Advocate Don Kreis said he is still considering whether his office will seek Chattopadhyay’s disqualification.

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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.