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My Turn: New Hampshire’s solar strategy can be stronger

For the Monitor
Published: 6/27/2021 9:30:04 AM

In a world increasingly focused on renewable energy, it’s important that New Hampshire decision-makers understand the important potential and aspects of the next 10-year energy strategy. New Hampshire must be aggressive in this strategy to be leaders in the renewable energy sector. 

New Hampshire’s 10-Year State Energy Strategy is comprised of everything from grid modernization and energy efficiency to fuel diverse and sustainable transportation. The arc of the plan covers all of the bases, but implementation is another story, specifically when it comes to solar. I work in the solar industry, so I have some humble suggestions to really allow this industry to grow and in turn, greatly benefit New Hampshire’s local economy and energy future.

The first suggestion is to increase the New Hampshire Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for new solar projects. A more aggressive goal would naturally incentivize more installations. New Hampshire’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires electricity suppliers to obtain 25% of electricity from renewable sources. Electricity suppliers can meet this requirement by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from qualified renewable energy sites, including solar. If an electricity supplier is unable to meet the RPS, they must pay Advanced Credit Payments (ACPs). It’s also worth noting that these ACPs are what fund state solar incentives through the Renewable Energy Fund. Increasing the RPS would provide solar customers with more of an opportunity to sell RECs while increasing the value of the credits. By shifting the supply and demand balance, electric suppliers will be forced to make ACP’s. This will help fund the Renewable Energy Fund.

This brings me to my next point: New Hampshire needs to increase funding for the NH solar state rebate. The Renewable Energy Fund is severely underfunded right now. The money for the residential program expired in February of this year when the funding really needs to last until June. Another benefit of increasing the RPS would be to bolster funding for this program.

Another thing that should be incorporated in the next 10-Year State Energy Strategy is a statewide battery utility program. These programs allow customers who have solar and battery storage systems to discharge their batteries back into the grid during times of peak electricity demand. Solar customers can benefit by getting paid and see a ROI for their battery investment while utility companies can save money as they are avoiding having to pay extremely high electricity costs during times of peak grid demand. Our neighboring state of Vermont has a large utility, Green Mountain Power, that does this successfully. It helps keeps the actual energy itself in state by not having to call on out-of-state fossil fuels to fill in the gaps to meet demand. Also, by keeping the energy produced and utilized in state not only reduces transmission inefficiencies and losses, but also keeps our hard-earned NH money in-state.

Finally, it makes sense to establish a battery rebate program similar to the current state solar photovoltaic solar rebate program. This would absolutely help incentivize the purchase of batteries for backup energy storage use.

(Eric Kilens is a senior solar advisor at Granite State Solar. He lives in Bow.)

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