As regular readers are no doubt aware, the Granite State is quickly approaching a deadline that may well determine its energy future. Utilities across New Hampshire are on the verge of hitting a cap on the state’s net energy metering policy (NEM), which gives rooftop solar consumers full credit for the excess energy they send back to the grid. As yet, no one in Concord has come forward with a plan to raise the cap.
Net metering is now on the books in 43 US states — with the recent addition of fellow early primary state, South Carolina — and the policy has proven wildly successful in growing the share of our energy generated by renewable resources. This growth in the green economy has led to job creation and continues to move us toward a healthier and more sustainable environment.
That’s probably why voters across the country consistently voice their support for solar energy, even from an unexpected side of the political spectrum. In a recent press release, conservative solar advocacy group TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed) noted:
“In Arizona, 83 percent of conservative voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate who wants to end solar power. When South Carolina voters were asked if consumers should pay an additional fee to invest in solar panels, 92 percent said “no.” And in Louisiana, 76 percent of conservatives agreed the opportunity for homeowners to go solar is important for providing choice and competition in electricity.”
It’s surprising to see inaction from New Hampshire’s elected leaders and utilities for whom job creation and economic improvement should be top of mind – and especially so in an election season.
Or maybe it isn’t. After all, New Hampshire utilities like Eversource — which provides power to 75% of the state — and Liberty have not exactly been discreet in their efforts to subvert the renewable energy market, and rooftop solar in particular.
In the last legislative session, State Senator Donna Soucy sponsored a bill that would have more than doubled New Hampshire’s net metering cap — currently 50 megawatts. But that provision was eventually stripped from the final bill due to opposition from Eversource, Liberty, and others. Meanwhile, Eversource, is pushing a $1.4 billion project to import hydropower from Canada, with most of the revenue and jobs headed north of the border.
As noted in the TUSK press release, the utilities can prevent industry disruption by offering an extension of the solar cap today. But until utilities come to the table, that possibility is nothing more than a rumor.
TUSK and Chairman Barry Goldwater, Jr., have called on Eversource to come to the table, which makes this one of those rare occasions when progressives and conservatives agree. Hopefully, political pressure from all fronts will help New Hampshire’s leaders and utilities step up and beat the clock, and lift the solar cap before jobs are lost.