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My Turn: RGGI is a good investment for New Hampshire

Last modified: 1/29/2015 2:05:04 PM
The New Hampshire House will soon be voting on a bill to repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. We call on all of you to appreciate the benefits this program brings to our state and to contact your legislators asking them to vote against repeal.

When Gov. John Lynch signed onto RGGI with nine other governors, it fell to the New Hampshire Legislature in 2008 to approve our state’s participation. After months of holding stakeholder meetings and listening to economic and environmental experts, the Legislature voted to have New Hampshire join this historic initiative.

RGGI is a market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a major cause of environmental and health issues. RGGI sets a cap for the region’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric power generators, and each of the now nine participating states is allocated a decreasing share of CO2 allowances for a three-year period.

With the cap set, the free market goes to work, making emissions reductions at the least cost. Quarterly auctions are held for regional emitters to buy and sell their allowances. Currently, portions of New Hampshire proceeds from the auctions are, by statute, given back to the ratepayer and, through the core electric distribution companies, channeled to assist low-income consumers with energy-efficiency projects.

Municipalities can also receive funds for energy-efficiency projects, which ultimately help to lower property taxes through cost savings on an ongoing basis.

By making our buildings more energy efficient, we lower energy demand, thereby reducing the electric load our state needs and, most importantly, lowering emissions.

One of the most compelling reasons for New Hampshire to remain in RGGI with eight other member states is financial. By staying in RGGI and participating in the auctions, New Hampshire will be able to continue its efforts toward “tightening the envelopes” of older homes and buildings, resulting in less energy demand and thereby avoiding the construction costs of new power plants. New Hampshire ratepayers win with RGGI at a direct cost of 24 cents per month to the average consumer with a return of much greater benefits both immediately and in the future.

If we bow out of the program, we lose that opportunity to receive energy-efficiency funding from the auctions but New Hampshire ratepayers will still pay the price of higher energy needs at the same time that the other regional state members in the initiative enjoy the benefits of RGGI, which include the jobs and business associated with energy-efficiency activities.

(Rep. Suzanne Harvey, a Democrat, lives in Nashua. Rep. Naida Kaen, a Democrat, lives in Lee.)


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