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Letter: Distressing raid on energy fund by state lawmakers

The Northern Forest Center developed the Model Neighborhood Project that supported the Berlin Housing Authority’s transition from oil heat to high-efficiency wood pellet heating, as described in “N.H. wood pellet project to save fuel costs” (Monitor Business page, July 8).

The demonstration project also subsidized the installation of 37 residential pellet boilers in Berlin, and one at the St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts, as a way to increase public familiarity with modern wood heating and catalyze market transformation over time.

Using wood pellets to heat costs 40 percent less than oil and keeps 100 percent of the dollars spent on fuel in the region; the project will have a total $6.4 million impact over the boilers’ 25-year lifespan.

A critical component of the Model Neighborhood Project is the Public Utilities Commission’s Bulk-Fed Wood-Pellet Central Boiler and Furnace Rebate Program, which provides a rebate up to $6,000 per boiler. Given the importance and success of the pellet boiler rebate program, we were dismayed to learn in late June that the state raided $16.1 million of the renewable energy fund that supports the program to cover a budget shortfall.

This action chokes off support to programs that have demonstrated tremendous economic benefits, and I urge state lawmakers to reject such proposals in the future.



(The writer is energy program director for the Northern Forest Center.)

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