My Turn: State’s triennial energy efficiency plan is under attack

For the Monitor
Published: 12/8/2020 6:00:19 AM

As a citizen of New Hampshire and a longtime advocate of increasing clean energy sources and robust energy efficiency actions for New Hampshire, I was dismayed but not surprised by a recent attempt by the GOP members of the House Science, Technology and Energy (STE) Committee to suspend the triennial energy efficiency plan currently on track at the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission for implementation in 2021.

In a letter dated Nov. 20, the GOP members of the STE Committee wrote to the PUC requesting suspension of the plan. The letter unfortunately exaggerated the cost of the three-year plan by $93 million and goes on to say that now is not the time to impose these costs on New Hampshire electric ratepayers and will “possibly” increase electricity costs by 10-15%.

What the letter fails to say is that based on testimony, the plan will generate $619 million in net benefits for electric ratepayers and over the lifetime of these efficiency improvements, provide $1.3 billion in energy cost savings. These savings could and should be reinvested in our local economies.

In addition, the plan would save 4.4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and create 4,673 full-time jobs. The GOP letter also does not consider, in the absence of the plan, the millions of dollars that will be paid by N.H. electric ratepayers to out-of-state electricity generators and the resulting transmission and distribution fees paid to retail electric companies such as Eversource.

According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, New Hampshire currently ranks 20th among the 50 states, with four other New England states ranked in the top six. The ranking is based on adopting ambitious goals and energy-saving rules for buildings, appliances, and vehicles. This is not leadership for New Hampshire.

The most costly action for New Hampshire is to continue to delay implementation of forward thinking actions such as the plan. Without the plan, we will be paying more for our electricity, shipping our energy dollars out of state, enriching our retail electric companies, generating more climate changing emissions, and not realizing the potential for energy job growth in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire needs to do better for its citizens in the area of clean energy and energy efficiency. We cannot afford not to do so.

(Joseph Kwasnik of Concord is a former chairman of the N.H. Electric Cooperative and retired energy industry executive.)


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