… just as policies were showing signs of progress
By Frederick Greenhalgh
The New Hampshire House of Representatives has voted in favor of a budget that would raid $51 million of funding from New Hampshire’s renewable energy fund to close a general-fund budget gap. This move flies in the face of broadly supported, bipartisan clean energy policies that have supported hundreds of solar jobs in New Hampshire and brought millions of dollars of private investment into the state.
This potentially disastrous move comes just as New Hampshire’s renewable policy was showing signs of progress – several bills attacking the Renewable Portfolio Standard have been defeated this session, and the Governor’s budget left the renewable energy funds alone completely and balanced the budget using more responsible tools.
The raid on renewable energy funds to plug holes elsewhere in the budget is not unprecedented in New Hampshire – previously over $16 million has been raided – but the amount the House has suggested is a whole other order of magnitude. Should this move be allowed to take place, it would wipe out all renewable energy rebates in the Granite State.
The New Hampshire Sustainability Energy Association minces no words, stating that the House budget would have “devastating effects on our economy, threatening thousands of jobs and depriving towns and businesses of much-needed assistance to lower their energy costs, lower local property taxes, and keep our energy dollars here in NH’s economy. House leadership has turned its back on its own public pledge to create a sensible budget for NH without raiding dedicated funds, using accounting gimmicks, or by raising new taxes. Raiding the dedicated renewable energy fund will strip ratepayer funds intended for cost-saving and job-creating energy projects, thereby creating a hidden energy tax.”
The next step in NH’s budget process is to send the House budget to the Senate, and then on to committee of conference. The committee is tasked with getting the Governor’s budget aligned with the budgets of the Senate and House of Representatives, which are currently very out of sync. A final bill must be passed by June 25 by both bodies, in order to be ratified by the Governor in time for the beginning of the fiscal year, July 1st.
What can you do? See https://legiscan.com/NH/bill/HB2/2015 to find out how your representatives voted. Then go to: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx, look up your legislators’ info, and let them know what you think of this attack on renewable energy funding! It will be most effective to send your comments to your State Senators and to the Governor.
Let your legislators know that:
Solar currently supports over 600 jobs in New Hampshire from more than 68 companies (37th in the USA).
In 2014, over $11 million was invested in solar installations in New Hampshire, a number poised to double this coming year.
Solar energy prices continue to decline — 8% decline just in this last year, and 50% from 2010. Solar energy rebates are still required to drive solar’s rapid growth, as it allows homeowners and businesses to leverage federal incentive programs and lock in electric rates below utility.
The first-ever “Value of Solar” study in Maine found that solar’s benefit to Maine ratepayers was roughly double the compensation offered under net metering. This means, far from being a burden, NH’s net-metering laws are in the public interest, and every solar installation that is put in offers a huge value to ALL ratepayers, not just the entity going solar.
Nationwide, 31,000 solar jobs were created in 2014; solar jobs grew by 20% while all other industry sectors added jobs at 1.1% rate.
New Hampshire’s 8MW of installed solar offset an estimated 3,524 tons of carbon pollution in this last year and saved solar customers an estimated $1.2 million in electricity costs.
Frederick Greenhalgh is the digital marketing manager for ReVision Energy in Exeter, NH.