Acadia Center works to advance a clean energy economy in New Hampshire, focusing on key areas of energy efficiency and clean transportation, and actively coordinates with a range of peer groups, stakeholders and policy makers. The top sources of emissions in New Hampshire are from buildings and transportation, which are each responsible for about 1/3 of the state’s emissions. More than 40% of New Hampshire households rely on fuel oil as their primary heating fuel, the second-largest share, after Maine, and about 10 times the national average. Petroleum consumption in the residential sector, which accounts for nearly 25% of state petroleum use, is among the highest in the nation on a per capita basis, in part because of the heavy dependence on heating oil during the state’s frigid winters.
In 2019, 59% of New Hampshire’s net electricity generation came from the Seabrook nuclear generating station, which is the largest power plant in the state. The remaining electricity is provided by natural gas (20% of generation), with biomass, hydroelectric power, wind, and coal supplying almost all of the state’s remaining generation. New Hampshire is taking steps to reduce its emissions through participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state cap and trade program. RGGI states have already decreased their collective emissions by about 45% (as of 2020) since the program started. The cap-and-trade system generates funds for the state from the sale of emissions allowance permits, which New Hampshire has used to lower electricity bills through rebates.
Buildings & Energy Efficiency
Acadia Center’s activity in New Hampshire is primarily through its role as an official member of the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) Committee, an advisory group consisting of New Hampshire utilities, NGOs, and state agency officials working together for energy efficiency measures. The Energy Efficiency Resource Standard produces millions of dollars in energy savings and reduces pollution from energy production. Acadia Center fought to ensure the 2021-2023 EERS Plan includes:
- Increased energy efficiency savings for 2021-23, and a commitment to a ramp up to delivering all-cost effective energy efficiency in future plans;
- Increased workforce development and training, especially for NH’s most vulnerable and rural communities and individuals;
- Targeted marketing, education, and enhanced incentives especially for NH’s most rural and disadvantaged communities and individuals;
- Upgraded energy efficiency data tracking systems and transparency;
- Enhanced building code development, implementation, training, compliance, and enforcement;
- Acceleration of the efforts to electrify and weatherize buildings heated by oil and gas.
In 2021, the NH Public Utilities Commission rejected a new energy efficiency plan developed as a consensus by utilities, government entities, consumer groups, and Acadia Center and its partners. Order No. 26,553 in DE 20-092 Electric and Gas Utilities: 2021-2023 Triennial Energy Efficiency Plan, released 11/12/2021.
New Hampshire deserves to reap the benefits that a more robust EERS program can provide. New Hampshire has some of the oldest and leakiest housing stock in the nation and a high dependency on fossil fuels for heating. Building heating is also one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in New Hampshire. Past progress shows that transitioning to a clean energy future will grow the economy, create jobs, enhance public health, and improve housing. Counter to the PUC’s findings, far more must be done to improve the efficiency of NH homes and businesses and to ensure that all overburdened and underserved communities reap the full benefits of efficiency offerings. Many consumers face unequal access to benefits under existing efficiency programs, and underserved communities that face the worst impacts of climate change and poor housing quality have not been able to take full advantage of efficiency programs. Clean electric heating and whole house electrification must be priorities to support the acceleration of clean energy resources and the transition away from fossil fuels.
Acadia Center is focused on policy and market structures that open the way for electricity as a clean, affordable transportation fuel and alignment of incentives for consumers to invest in electric vehicles (EVs) and other emerging technologies Acadia Center data, precedent from other states, and research on best practices, serves as a responsive and reliable resource for decision makers and advocates to support electrification and advance the push New Hampshire to address transportation sector emissions.
Acadia Center developed information showing the health and investment benefits to New Hampshire if it participates in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a regional plan to reduce emissions from the transportation sector. Although Gov. Sununu quickly declared New Hampshire would not participate in TCI, and other New England States are pausing their TCI efforts, Acadia Center and its partners remain committed to advancing the goals of the program.
Clean Power and Utility Innovation
Acadia Center advances policies that level the playing field for clean energy generation and advocates for reforms to the incentives and resource planning rules that govern utilities, as well as for distributed generation and community energy.
Acadia Center will look for opportunities to help New Hampshire reshape utility and energy process planning so that they supports integration of more clean energy and electric vehicles. The main levers for achieving this in the state are proceedings at the Public Utilities Commission and pilot projects.