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My Turn: House should override veto of net metering legislation

For the Monitor
Published: 7/21/2020 6:00:16 AM

On July 11, the Concord Monitor published a letter from Rep. Michael Vose, which purported to provide facts negating an earlier op-ed from Rep Howard Moffett regarding net metering.

In fact, it is Vose who has got his facts and conclusions wrong, not Rep. Moffett.

Rep. Vose’s letter conflates locally produced net-metered electricity with electric utility default energy supply.

First a couple of facts:

■Net-metered electricity supplied to local utility circuits is not electric utility default energy supply but rather load reduction. Load reduction reduces the amount of electricity that must be supplied by the local electric utility for its customers from remote and in many cases out-of-state electric generators.

■Electric utilities generally encourage load reduction on their circuits for a number of reasons including deferring costly upgrades, reducing risk of overloads on stressed circuits and lowering transmission costs to customers.

In fact, electric utilities have long-established programs that aim to reduce loads on their distribution systems including energy efficiency and demand response measures.

■Electricity regulators including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have traditionally considered net-metered (behind the meter) electricity as load reduction, not electric supply.

Vose equating net metering electricity to electric supply is misleading at best to readers and displays a poor understanding of the character of net metered electricity or the operation of electric utilities.

Speaking of net metering , Gov. Chris Sununu has in recent years vetoed a number of bipartisan net metering bills, which generally proposed to raise the net metering cap from one megawatt to up to but not including five megawatts. His reasoning for issuing the vetoes is a bald and unsubstantiated claim that raising the cap would cost electric customers “hundreds of millions of dollars.” His argument appears to be based on a methodology utilized by Eversource, which “sells” the electricity output of some of its larger net metering customers as “wholesale generation” to the regional grid operator. Eversource claims this “sale” is conducted at a loss that is billed to electric customers thus the claim by the governor. Eversource is incorrect in defining these larger net metered customers as wholesale generation when in fact they are load reduction. Shame on the governor and Eversource for distorting the real benefits of net metering.

Meanwhile, the Legislature will have one more chance later this year to get net metering right. Senate Bill 159 was vetoed by the governor in February, but the Senate overrode the veto in March. The House’s chance to override the veto will likely come in September. SB 159 authored by Sen. Jeb Bradley represents a bipartisan effort to modernize and enlarge the scope of net metering. This bill is important to a number of New Hampshire cities, towns, and businesses that plan to build larger and more economic net metering sources in their communities.

These plans, if implemented under SB 159, would reduce electricity costs to electric customers, reduce the emissions of carbon by displacing energy supply from out-of-state sources and thus reduce New Hampshire’s contribution to climate change and reduce our dependence on out of state electricity sources. Please encourage your representative in the New Hampshire House to vote to override the governor’s veto of SB 159.

Come on, New Hampshire: Let’s finally move into the 21st century.

(Joe Kwasnik of Concord is a former chairman and director of the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative. He also served as an environmental executive for National Grid, including several years as head of climate change.)


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