New Hampshire Needs RGGI for Economic & Energy Efficiency Benefits
Proven Benefits of RGGI in NH. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a proven success for New Hampshire (NH), both as an engine of economic growth and a tool for reducing harmful emissions from the power sector. Since the program began in 2009, electricity prices have decreased while RGGI has delivered significant economic benefits, clean energy investments and health improvements in NH and the RGGI region as a whole. These benefits are due in large part to the reinvestment of RGGI auction revenue in energy efficiency and clean energy projects.
- Since 2009, RGGI states cut per-capita GHG pollution 2.7 times faster and their economy grew 2.5 times faster than the rest of the country.
- To date RGGI allowance auctions have generated $76.3 million in revenue for NH and projections for 2015-2020 are for an additional $198.7 million brought into the state.
- Effective investment of RGGI auction revenue has brought economic benefits to NH; the first two and a half years of RGGI participation resulted in $17 million in value added to the economy, and 458 job-years of employment.
- Electricity prices in the state have declined by 2% from 2008 (pre-RGGI) to 2013, and by 8% across the broader region.
Energy Efficiency Investments Under Threat in NH. A bill introduced by the NH House—HB 208—originally sought to withdraw the state from RGGI. Fortunately, testimony from the general public and experts was overwhelmingly in support of retaining the program. However, in a misguided attempt to help ratepayers in the state, legislators amended the bill to end the state’s use of RGGI revenue for investment in energy efficiency and to use it instead for rebates to consumers. This version passed the House. Unfortunately, the amended bill would only return an average of 16 cents per month to ratepayers, and yet would eliminate the proven economic benefits of efficiency investments. In the long-term, investments in efficiency help all ratepayers–by reducing demand for electricity–not just those who individually benefit from projects funded through efficiency programs.
The Time is Now to Support Energy Efficiency. NH’s best path forward at this point is to maximize the state’s economic benefits by revising the RGGI revenue spending plan to invest more heavily in energy efficiency–the most cost-effective energy resource. Research shows that the states that have invested most heavily in energy efficiency also experience the greatest economic impacts. If NH curtails its investments in energy efficiency (as the bill passed by the House proposes) and chooses to use all auction revenues as direct rebates for energy bills, the state’s vast potential economic benefits will be minimized. In the interest of the state’s economy, environment and employment, NH should seek to increase RGGI revenue investments in energy efficiency.