Our Turn: A better way forward on clean energy

Published: 1/24/2020 6:00:20 AM

As state representatives in New Hampshire, we deal with a wide range of subjects, from taxes to spending to health care to sports betting. But one of this year’s biggest and most contentious issues involves energy policy.

Although there is no doubt that the future is heading in the direction of clean energy, there is a great deal of disagreement to how much we should ask our ratepayers to subsidize that development.

Granite Staters already face some of the nation’s highest utility bills. So when the Legislature sent Gov. Chris Sununu bills that would place substantial financial burdens on our families, he vetoed those bills. He knew that we could do better for our citizens.

House Republicans and Gov. Sununu got together to find a better way forward. We convened a small working group with the governor’s office, and some of the more vocal clean energy supporters in our caucus to work on new legislation. After a lot of thought, hard work and compromise, we are proposing a new, innovative approach to clean energy in New Hampshire.

Last week we introduced two bills to the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee to promote hydropower while addressing relevant challenges for the power industry (House Bill 1518-FN, HB 1519). This week we’ll introduce further legislation focusing on challenges related to sales and distribution of locally generated power. These bills are as follows:

HB 1481 – A bill removing the arbitrary net metering cap for customers, allowing fair compensation for clean energy systems reflecting actual electricity use.

HB 1402 – A bill allowing cities and towns to offset their electricity use with clean energy options while saving property taxpayers money.

HB 1262 – A bill breaking down barriers that prevent clean energy generators from selling electricity.

These bills work together to advance principles that we believe all energy policies should share.

We should not add arbitrary burdens and regulations that stand in the way of clean energy, and should remove the ones that are in place.

Our government should not pick winners and losers among technologies or developers but instead establish a level playing field, letting them compete more fairly.

Clean energy systems should be right-sized and used to offset electricity actually used by a town or customer, not simply built to make money for developers.

Most importantly, our energy policies should be sensitive to the economic realities that Granite Staters face in terms of electric bills and property taxes.

We expect tough questions and concerns from our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Like any good compromise, we expect that no one will come away thinking they got everything they wanted. However, if we want to move clean energy forward in New Hampshire, we ask that they give our bills thoughtful consideration. We hope that our friends in the Legislature will follow Gov. Sununu’s example, putting aside the politics and partisanship to achieve the best results for the people of New Hampshire.

New Hampshire citizens deserve nothing less.

(Tim Lang of Sanbornton, Howard Pearl of Loudon, John Plumer of Belmont and Michael Costable of Raymond serve in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.)


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