New Hampshire Governor Vetoes Legislation That Would Bring Energy Savings to More Residents
CONCORD, N.H. – On Friday, Governor Sununu vetoed a bill (HB582) that would have increased funding for efficiency projects, particularly for low income customers, who currently experience a long wait list for the popular weatherization programs. With his veto, Governor Sununu prevented additional revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative from being distributed to these programs.
“By vetoing this bill, the governor has ensured that New Hampshire will continue to have difficulty investing in the cheapest form of energy available in the state,” said Ellen Hawes, Senior Analyst at Acadia Center. “This is a huge missed opportunity for New Hampshire’s residents and economy, as well as the state’s progress toward climate safety.”
Energy efficiency investments make electricity cheaper for all ratepayers. By 2027, energy efficiency is projected to reduce the amount of electricity we need to generate by more than 22%. In New Hampshire, the NHSaves electric efficiency programs deliver energy savings at 77% lower costs than buying more power. New Hampshire’s current use of RGGI auction revenue continues to provide benefits for the state, but the relatively small portion of funds directed towards energy efficiency prevents New Hampshire from maximizing its benefits.
For the first time ever, the New England grid operator (ISO New England) is predicting a decline in peak demand over the next ten years, mostly due to projected gains in energy efficiency and on-site solar generation. ISO-NE projects that by 2020, energy efficiency will reduce demand on peak days by more than all of the region’s nuclear power plants combined can supply. States must have strong programs to sustain and advance these gains.
In addition to this most recent veto, on July 19th the Governor vetoed a bill (SB205) that would have allowed the Public Utilities Commission to continue to set energy efficiency investment levels at rates most beneficial to ratepayers. This bill would have also increased the public’s ability to engage with how efficiency funds are spent, by expanding membership of the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Board.
“By requiring legislative approval for this one portion of rates, the legislature will add delay, uncertainty and increased costs for utilities, stakeholders and the Public Utilities Commission, under Sununu’s erroneous and disingenuous assertion that it is a hidden tax,” said Hawes.
Ellen Hawes, Senior Analyst
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The Northeast is poised to regain momentum on clean energy
A bloc of states from Maine to New Jersey are stitched together by shared power sources and an interdependent set of economies, highways, and waterways. They moved in unison in the earliest throes of clean energy policy. But in recent years, politics has peeled off some while others have surged ahead.
Now some of the smallest and most unlikely players are helping to get everyone moving together again.
Read the full article from Yale Climate Connections here.
Regional Interest in Battery Storage Heats Up
With the sweltering days of summer behind us and New Englanders reluctantly turning their minds to winter storm season, it is worth asking how we can keep our electric grid running affordably and efficiently during both heat waves and cold snaps. Behind-the-meter energy storage is one solution that is showing increasing promise.
In-Home Energy Storage
Behind-the meter energy storage refers to when customers store electric power purchased from the grid or power generated themselves (such as from rooftop solar panels) in batteries installed in their homes. The market for behind-the-meter storage is growing rapidly due to decreasing costs and growing awareness. In addition to providing backup power to homeowners during outages, like a traditional generator, this storage can provide backup power for the grid itself.
Battery storage can also be combined with innovative electric rates. For example, time-varying rates could encourage customers to purchase power from the grid during periods of low demand and use energy stored in their battery during periods of high demand. This would lower storage users’ bills directly while reducing the use of expensive and polluting backup plants typically needed during times when temperatures surge or plunge. In turn, avoiding these expensive resources will cut energy prices for all customers.
Policies and Pilots
Many states are currently experimenting with adding battery storage to the grid to help reduce prices and integrate renewable energy sources that produce power intermittently. This wide range of pilots is providing valuable lessons for putting storage to good use. For example, Vermont’s Green Mountain Power (GMP) claimed it saved customers $500K during a heat wave this summer through its pilot of in-home batteries. During the hours of highest demand, the program allows GMP to withdraw energy stored in customers’ batteries instead of paying very high prices on the wholesale market. This year, GMP also expanded its pilot program to allow customers to purchase third-party storage devices. In New Hampshire, Liberty Utilities is proposing a similar pilot that would combine storage with time-varying rates to provide customers with incentives to use electricity during times of lower demand.
To support a future electric grid where consumers are empowered to produce, store, and use their own electricity, state policies should enable residents to own and operate batteries to the largest extent possible. Utility ownership of residential batteries can stifle the development of competitive markets and reduce customers’ flexibility in deciding how and when to deploy their power. Acadia Center will continue to advocate for programs that prioritize a customer-centered model, helping states pursue and expand programs like those detailed above.
In Northeast, net metering in flux as states look to reform solar policy
“I’m willing to say it’s OK if you get out in front of it a little bit. It’s not the end of the world,” said Mark LeBel, a staff attorney with the regional environmental advocacy group Acadia Center. But self-consumption of electricity — owning, storing and using your own generation — needs to be protected. “That’s the future,” LeBel said.
Read the full article from Energy News here.
Who Should Get Energy Rebates? Lawmakers Debate
Environmentalists are clashing with fossil fuel supporters over who should get money saved from cutting gas emissions throughout the state. Two bills will be voted on Tuesday that deal with how the money earned from the program should be spent. New Hampshire is one of nine states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the first U.S. program that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program has been credited with cutting emissions by 30 percent and sending nearly $3 billion in savings back to the states over the last decade. The states’ economies grew 25 percent from 2008 to 2015, according to the Acadia Center, a nonprofit that promotes clean energy.
Read the full article from U.S. News and World Report here.
Acadia Center Applauds New England’s Continued Nation-Leading Progress on Energy Efficiency
BOSTON — The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a national nonpartisan organization, released its 2017 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard today, with Massachusetts holding the #1 rank for the seventh straight year, Rhode Island climbing to #3, Vermont at #4, and Connecticut at #6. Maine and New Hampshire were ranked #13 and #21, respectively.
New England states’ rankings in the category of utility and public benefit efficiency programs are even more impressive. Together, these programs represent the single largest state policy-driven impact on greenhouse gas emissions in the region. The efficiency investments driven by these programs have brought tremendous energy and bill savings to the region’s residents. They have also halted the growth of peak electric usage and its associated need for expensive new transmission projects. Rhode Island was first in this category, followed by Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut. Maine was ranked twelfth, and New Hampshire sixteenth.
“Maximizing efficiency is a major step toward putting the region on the path to the clean energy future detailed in Acadia Center’s EnergyVision 2030 report. The New England states are showing that deploying least-cost, non-polluting measures effectively reduces the need for expensive fossil fuels. The leading states are successfully using this approach to spur economic development while also benefitting the environment and consumers, who enjoy lower costs and healthier, more comfortable spaces in which to live and work,” said Dan Sosland, Acadia Center President.
Massachusetts is leading the way with a current 3-year efficiency plan (2016‑2018) that is expected to deliver $8.1 billion in economic benefits and energy savings, as well as environmental benefits equivalent to removing approximately 408,000 cars from the road. The plan sets annual savings goals (2.93% of sales for electric and 1.24% of sales for natural gas) that are the highest in the nation, yet again. In 2016, Massachusetts programs far exceeded these goals, achieving savings of 3.34% of sales for electric efficiency.
“Massachusetts holds the first-place ranking alone this year—and for an amazing seven years running—but there is still plenty of work to do to make the most of this low-cost, clean resource,” said Amy Boyd, Senior Attorney at Acadia Center. “We should applaud our success, but not rest on our laurels. We must return to the hard work that it takes to accelerate strategies to reach the homes and businesses that still need help lowering their energy costs,” Boyd said. “Making smart use of all the data that new technologies can provide will reduce costs, make processes more transparent and keep us on track to stay on top of the evolving ACEEE scoring criteria.”
Rhode Island’s Least Cost Procurement law is primarily responsible for the state’s continued leadership on energy efficiency. First implemented a decade ago and extended for another five years in 2015, the policy states that distribution companies cannot acquire new electric or natural gas supply until “all cost-effective” energy efficiency measures have been exhausted. However, recent actions by Rhode Island state government, including a diversion of $12.5 million in ratepayer funds collected for energy efficiency, will make it difficult for the state to maintain its ranking next year.
“By investing in low-cost energy efficiency instead of expensive electricity and natural gas, Rhode Island lowers energy bills and spurs economic growth,” said Erika Niedowski, Rhode Island Policy Advocate with Acadia Center. “Energy efficiency reduces the cost of doing business in Rhode Island, and when residents spend less money on energy, they have more left in their paycheck to spend locally on other things.”
A widening gap has emerged between the electric efficiency programs of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont and other states, with Vermont achieving 65% more savings than Connecticut. These three leading states have fully embraced efficiency as a resource, just like electric generation, and are choosing the lower-cost option of efficiency. The second tier of energy efficiency performers, Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire, finished the year with a mix of improved performance in some areas and need for improvement in others. Maine continues to achieve respectable savings levels and leads the nation in the deployment of clean, efficient heat pumps, despite a difficult political environment for clean energy. New Hampshire’s new Energy Efficiency Resource Standard promises to finally put that state on a path to reducing energy waste. Even with this progress, New Hampshire, as well as Connecticut and Maine, have plans to achieve only about half the electric efficiency savings that Massachusetts did in 2016.
“Connecticut dropped a spot to #6 this year, an indication that its historical commitments to energy efficiency are not enough. As other states are making big gains, Connecticut is only cutting half the energy waste it can,” said Kerry Schlichting, Connecticut Policy Advocate with Acadia Center. “Leaving these savings on the table is a loss for residents and businesses. Officials should reevaluate opportunities for future efficiency gains through increasing savings targets, addressing languishing appliance standards and tackling energy waste in state buildings.”
“It is unfortunate to see that Maine’s ranking dropped for the first time in five years, falling two spots to #13,” said Acadia Center Maine Policy Advocate Kathleen Meil. “As other states ramp up their commitment to energy efficiency, Maine’s drop demonstrates that standing still means falling behind.”
“Despite the temporary dip in savings and spending in 2016 for both the electric and natural gas programs, New Hampshire’s new Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) promises to finally put that state on a path to reducing energy waste,” said Ellen Hawes, Senior Analyst at Acadia Center.
“New England is on the right path, far ahead of some other regions, but there is still work to do to make the most of this clean resource. The states need to find better ways to weatherize older buildings, integrate new technologies, and accelerate strategies to reach all types of homes and businesses,” said Jamie Howland, Director of Acadia Center’s Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Initiative.
As a member of efficiency stakeholder boards in multiple states, Acadia Center looks forward to working with fellow members, utilities and other stakeholders to make sure that the plans are implemented effectively to deliver cost savings through lower utility bills, emissions reductions, and clean energy job growth, in addition to broader economic benefits.
See the Scorecard at: http://www.aceee.org/state-policy/scorecard
Jamie Howland, Director, Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Initiative
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NH Regulators Order DER Study; Cut Net Metering Credits
One settlement proposal came from a coalition of utilities and consumer parties (UCC), including Eversource Energy, Liberty Utilities, Unitil Energy Systems, the state Office of Consumer Advocate, the New England Ratepayers Association, Consumer Energy Alliance and Standard Power of America.
The other proposal was filed the same day by a coalition of distributed generation industry advocates and environmental organizations known as the Energy Future Coalition (EFC), which included the Acadia Center, The Alliance for Solar Choice, the Conservation Law Foundation and eight other organizations and companies (docket DE 16-576).
Video: Energy policy a top issue in campaign
“Obviously, we still have a ways to go,” said Jordan Stutt, policy analyst for the Acadia Center. “We’re still pretty dependent on some fossil fuels, but as we continue to invest in new energy technologies — as those costs come down, as we build out the infrastructure for distributed energy generation — I think we will be able to achieve that goal.”
Watch the news report and read the full article from WMUR here.
My Turn: Concord needs to show a little Yankee ingenuity
The magazine goes on to state that by 2040 renewable energies will produce almost half of all electricity worldwide. Further, as pointed out by the Acadia Center, $400 million was saved through the cancellation of proposed transmission line work as a result of sustained investment in energy efficiency in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Read the full article from the Concord Monitor here.
Does spending more on energy efficiency cut rates?
“It’s counterintuitive that paying more will result in a savings overall,” said Ellen Hawes, a senior analyst of Acadia Center, an environmental advocacy group in Boston. “But that’s what the data shows.”
Hawes said that Acadia hasn’t seen this “rebound” effect to be significant. “There is only so much electricity you can use,” she said.
Read the full article from the New Hampshire Business Review here.