My Turn: Solar, beer and the path forward for New Hampshire

For the Monitor
Published: 9/10/2016 12:10:05 AM

I recently stood next to Gov. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire’s largest solar-powered brewery as she ceremoniously signed legislation to expand clean energy across the state.

The bill we were celebrating was officially made law by Gov. Hassan in May. It doubled New Hampshire’s arbitrary cap on homes and businesses that use net metering – a policy that enables energy users to generate their own power and receive fair credit for any excess they send back to the grid.

Without forward-thinking energy policies like net metering we would not have been hosting the bill signing at the Throwback Brewery in North Hampton. These policies enabled my company to install a large solar array across the brew pub’s roof, allowing for lower energy bills, increased energy independence and an overall more environmentally friendly experience. Homeowners and businesses across the state deserve the opportunity to produce and use clean energy, and local workers should have a chance to prosper with good-paying, high-quality jobs.

We are proud to stand with leaders like Gov. Hassan who are promoting the development of sustainable energy choices. But doubling the net metering cap was just the start. The bill also initiated a 10-month study by the state’s Public Utility Commission to explore the future of clean energy policy in New Hampshire.

It’s critical that customer-focused policy solutions like net metering are upheld by the commission. These policies have the power to unlock a booming new economy. Solar and other clean energy resources represent good jobs for local workers – jobs that cannot be outsourced. Look no further than our southern neighbor, Massachusetts, where stable energy policy has led to 15,000 solar jobs throughout the state. Meanwhile, New Hampshire has more than 1,000.

In fact, just look at my company. ReVision Energy is a microcosm of this job growth opportunity. We went from just two guys in a garage to roughly 140 employees across Northern New England. We want to invest in New Hampshire. But in order to maximize the creation of solar jobs and to bring solar savings to more individuals and businesses, we need certainty on policy so that we can invest with confidence.

Moving forward with smart clean-energy policy is of dire importance for the future of our planet. Today New Hampshire has the second highest per capita fossil fuel consumption and carbon pollution in all of New England. The state has the opportunity to show leadership and work to transition off of dirty fossil fuels for the benefit of the environment and economy alike.

People want solar energy. Recent statewide polling shows that New Hampshire voters – both Republicans and Democrats – favor solar as an energy source, and a clear majority support net metering. Moreover, nearly all of the most recent independent studies on net metering show rooftop solar provides a financial benefit to all energy consumers, including those without solar. Everybody wins.

New Hampshire policy makers must be thoughtful as they consider what’s next for the state. I am hopeful they will recognize policies like net metering as fundamental for creating jobs, bringing solar to people of all incomes and furthering the state’s clean energy leadership. I urge New Hampshire to provide this certainty to companies like mine. Let’s keep moving New Hampshire forward and make it a national leader that other states will envy.

(Phil Coupe is co-founder of New Hampshire-based ReVision Energy.)

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