The Bulletin Board

Commission to study small-scale local production of power

By: - October 5, 2021 4:53 pm
Power lines

Energy efficiency was “a constant and pervasive subject of discussion among everyone who works at the OCA,” according to Consumer Advocate Don Kreis. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

A legislative study commission tasked with determining whether small-scale energy producers in the state should get credit for cutting the cost of moving electricity over large distances met for the first time on Tuesday.

When energy is produced nearby, it doesn’t have to go through the high-voltage power lines that run across the country. It costs money to maintain and use those high-voltage lines, money that should be saved by producing energy close to home. Producing power on a small-scale, like rooftop solar, has also been touted as a way to increase the resilience of a grid.   

Nov. 1 is the deadline for the Limited Electrical Energy Producers Commission to come up with an answer – or at least a report that lawmakers can use to propose related legislation.  

On Tuesday, commission members determined they would invite the utilities, solar companies, and the regional grid operator, ISO New England, to help them explore the issue starting next week.

A lobbyist for the state’s largest utility, Eversource, said the commission also needed to consider cost, pointing to Massachusetts, where grid updates to allow small-scale energy production have cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The updates to the grid in Massachusetts have been necessary to keep pace with the state’s renewable energy mandates.

The commission’s chair is Rep. Michael Vose, an Epping Republican, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting because of a family emergency. Other commission members include Sen. David Watters, a Dover Democrat; Sen. Kevin Avard, a Nashua Republican; Rep. Jacqueline Cali-Pitts, a Portsmouth Democrat; Rep. Douglas Thomas, a Londonderry Republican; and Thomas Frantz, the director of the Division of Regulatory Affairs at the Department of Energy. 

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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.