This holiday season provides a chance for the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to deliver the gift that keeps on giving to Granite Staters: a strong energy efficiency program for 2021 and beyond. New Hampshire energy efficiency programs deliver a diverse set of benefits to consumers including lower overall energy system costs, individual cost savings, improved comfort, and lower overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, not to mention supporting almost 12,000 jobs in that state’s efficiency industry.
The PUC is set to vote on whether or not to approve the 2021-2023 Energy Efficiency Plan that implements the state’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard. The Plan would require the state’s electric and gas utilities to reduce annual electric demand by 4.5% and fossil gas by 2.8% over 2019 sales. While the Acadia Center supported even more ambitious savings targets of 5% for electric utilities and 3% for gas utilities, we believe that the final Plan represents an effective energy efficiency strategy for action over the next three years. Acadia Center supports the continued progress toward acquisition of all cost-effective energy efficiency resources across all fuel types and sectors, helping New Hampshire residents, businesses, institutions, and low-income families meet their energy needs while reducing their cost of energy.
The Granite State lags its New England neighbors in overall energy efficiency policies and progress according to the recently published American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s 2020 national efficiency state scorecard. While Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont are in the top 10 for overall state-wide energy efficiency policies, with these states saving enough electricity in 2019 to power 250,000 homes for a year, New Hampshire remains stalled in the middle of the pack. While the state has seen improvements in recent years, it must do more to become a regional leader on energy efficiency. New Hampshire residents and businesses deserve to reap the full benefits of robust energy efficiency programs, which not only reduce energy use and costs, but improve public health, support economic growth and employment in energy efficiency sectors, and are consumer-friendly. Acadia Center research indicates that every $1 invested in regional energy efficiency investments yields an average of $3.75 in total benefits. Leaving that kind of money on the table doesn’t make sense for New Hampshire consumers who have some of the highest energy bills in the nation.
This has been a difficult year for all, and Acadia Center understands that residential and businesses customers should not be overburdened with increasing costs. However, as result of the 2019 Granite State test, a cost-benefit calculation that ensures that any and all energy efficiency programs provide benefit to all of the state’s energy consumers, the PUC and state lawmakers can be assured that long-term energy efficiency programs are a sound investment in the state’s future. This Plan allows goals, programs, and budgets to be adjusted during the triennium as needed, while recognizing that the cost-effectiveness savings needed to drive energy efficiency improvements ensures that consumers realize the benefits of these programs. And with a vigorous economic recovery expected in 2021 and beyond, it is essential that the state have in place as strong and robust of an energy efficiency program in place as possible.