Senate approves bill on energy-efficiency efforts at schools, town offices

Thursday, March 24, 2016
The Senate narrowly approved a bill Thursday to send more money to energy-efficiency efforts at schools, town offices and for low-income residents.

Three Senate Republicans joined with all 10 Democrats to approve Senate Bill 492.

“It’s going to put more money to helping low- and moderate-income people make their homes more efficient,” said Sen. Jerry Little, a Weare Republican.

The bill redistributes state proceeds from a regional cap-and-trade program known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative by lifting the cap on how much money can go to energy-efficiency efforts like home weatherization and insulation.

Currently, the bulk of the proceeds are rebated back to ratepayers and a small portion is dedicated to energy efficiency programs.

The regional pact, made up of nine member states across the Northeast, is intended to lower harmful emissions. Under the initiative, fossil fuel-burning power plants must purchase allowances for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit.

RGGI is expected to generate $27 million for New Hampshire this year.

The bill, filed by Concord Sen. Dan Feltes, would increase the portion of RGGI proceeds directed to low-income, energy-efficienct measures, from 15 to at least 35 percent. And it would up the amount given to municipal and local energy-efficienct projects from $2 million to $5 million.

Advocates say efficiency and conservation measures are key to reducing electricy usage and lowering the region’s energy costs.

Commercial and industrial customers would continue to receive ratepayer rebates.

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307, or on Twitter @amorrisNH.)

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