From the “Brews and Bills” file: Last Friday, Governor Maggie Hassan joined ReVision Energy co-founder Phil Coupe at Throwback Brewery in North Hampton for a ceremonial signing of HB1116 — New Hampshire’s landmark solar energy bill — which Governor Hassan officially signed into law in May.
HB1116 essentially doubled the Granite State’s net metering cap (from 50 MW to 100 MW) and called for a 10-month study by the Public Utilities Commission to look into the future of solar rate design in the state. This was a huge victory for solar advocates in response to a full-court press by monopoly utilities looking to gut the policy.
The ceremonial signing adds to growing momentum behind solar energy in New Hampshire, a key swing state in the upcoming US presidential election. Recent polling found overwhelming support for solar energy among critical independent voters, with 90% of those polled in favor of increased usage. The same poll also found that two-thirds of independent voters support net metering, and that candidates who vocally support increasing residential solar options could swing undecided voters.
This came on the heels of another poll that found 4 out of 5 New Hampshire voters — including Republicans and Democrats — favor solar as an energy source, and nearly 70% support net metering.
Not only is net metering popular, it’s also great for the economy. Neighboring Massachusetts has 15,000 solar jobs throughout the state thanks to a relatively stable energy policy environment. Meanwhile, New Hampshire has just under 1,000. That’s a lot of catching up to do.
The poll numbers also spell good news for Democrats and Hillary Clinton, who have staked out a strong position in support of solar and other renewable energy — and extremely bad news for the GOP, which could generously be called “skeptical” with regard to climate change.
With widespread support for solar energy on the rise and the eyes of a nation on the state’s electoral college, New Hampshire has an opportunity to lead the charge for clean energy.
New Hampshire homeowners and businesses that want to generate their own rooftop power are now looking to the PUC study for what’s next with net metering. Solar advocates are urging the Commission to move forward with smart policy that will encourage energy diversification and create good-paying, high-quality jobs for the state. We’ll see if the Commission agrees.