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House rejects bill to rebate all RGGI funds to ratepayers



Monitor staff
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The House rejected a push to divert Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative profits to ratepayers Tuesday, opting to use the money to expand investment in energy efficiency instead.

Under the initiative, known as RGGI, New Hampshire and nine other states take part in a “cap-and-trade”-style market-based program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions are capped, but companies can purchase allowances at state-run auctions. In New Hampshire’s system, profits from those auctions are currently split 80-20; 80 percent is returned to New Hampshire ratepayers in the form of rebates, while 20 percent goes into investments in programs to develop energy-efficiency programs.

Lawmakers on Tuesday rejected House Bill 592, which would have eliminated the 20 percent investment and diverted all profits back to ratepayers. Republicans had presented the bill as a means to give back to New Hampshire energy customers while still maintaining the core intent of the RGGI: to cap carbon emissions by power companies and create a market for those companies to buy allowances.

Rep. Michael Harrington, R-Strafford, said that giving profits back to ratepayers could allow them to spend the extra money on energy efficiency programs as they see fit. But the House rejected the bill, 180-165.

In contrast, House members voted in favor of House Bill 559, which would eliminate the rebates to residential customers entirely and allocate 35 percent of the remaining profits to low-income core energy-efficiency programs, up from the present 15 percent funding level. That bill passed, 197-147.

Rep. Lee Oxenham, R-Plainfield, said that investing in efficient energy programs would lower the load New Hampshire puts on the electric grid, which she said would lower prices for ratepayers.

“When we reduce that peak demand, everybody’s bills go down as the prices go down,” she said.

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)