The BIG PICTURE for Local Energy and Supplier Choice


The BIG PICTURE for Local Energy and Supplier Choice

Happy Clean Energy Week 2021 (9/20-9/24/21)! Here’s an update on NH energy law and how these changes affect Hollis.

NH was the first US state to move toward utility deregulation in 1996. The idea was that utilities should get out of the energy generation business and focus on delivery, to enhance market competition. The thinking was that the best way to advance innovation was to leverage the invisible hand of the market. An important side-benefit of embracing ‘energy diversity’ and ‘supplier choice’ was that competition helps control price volatility. The rest of the region soon followed New Hampshire’s lead.

As a long-time program manager, I know that defining a clear plan for NH is the surest way to provide stability for consumers and businesses. Deregulation was a big step but, it was only a first step. In the decades since, New Hampshire has failed to execute a plan that realizes the full benefits of a competitive energy market.

Maine’s legislature recently put together a comprehensive plan after years of foot-dragging. They also passed a slew of legislative underpinnings to make good on their plan. Maine credits new leadership for the swift change of direction. Governor Mills’ clear focus on clean energy has had a positive impact on Maine’s economy. During that same time, NH fell from 24th to 37th in the 2021 Bloomberg state business rankings; this drop shows that we cannot just say we’re business-friendly, we need to lead and innovate.  

Good policy addresses problems before they become huge problems. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) recently reported that in 2020 the US spent $98.9 billion on climate related disasters. This is the reason states and countries are moving to get off fossil fuels. We’re harming the planet and we’re also draining budgets. Although I prepared to have strategic policy discussions on House Science, Technology and Energy Committee, there have been none. But, with all that we ignored in 2021, we passed two bills that were good for Hollis and for New Hampshire.

SB91 – Municipal Net Metering – allows municipal net metering for up to 5 MWs (after 4 years of vetoes on similar bills). Municipal Net Metering means the SAU41’s rooftop solar panels will be credited for providing local/sustainable power (that doesn’t use transmission lines and can deliver excess power to neighbors down the street). This policy builds on deregulation because home grown energy diversity keeps NH dollars in our economy, instead of sending them out of state.

HB315 – Community Power – helps municipalities and consumers lower their electric rates through the long-constrained and overdue, supplier choice.

The Hollis Energy Committee (HEC) has been doing Community Power presentations to educate the public on the benefits of this law (I attended one on 9/16). I will be joining HEC’s Philip Stephenson for his next session at the Lawrence Barn on 9/28 where we will talk about state and local efforts and answer questions.

In a nutshell, the Hollis Energy Committee proposes that Hollis join a growing Community Power Coalition (10 or so towns), who will leverage their buying power as a block in-order-to lower town costs and individual customer bills. Poles, wires, and services will remain with Eversource; so, the switch is seamless to the customer, but it introduces a path toward more competitive pricing per kwh. In fact, the Community Power Coalition’s power purchase agreement will require sign-on electric rates to be lower than what we pay today. Anyone who isn’t interested in having a competitive supplier has the choice to opt out.

Finally, I thought you’d appreciate an update on NH’s share of the Volkswagen settlement ($4.6 million from a class action suit for lying about VW emissions) from several years ago. That money was turned over to the NH Dept of Environmental Services to administer after some bureaucratic delays and they announced on Friday 9/17 that it will finally be putting the money to the agreed upon use of helping fund NH’s Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure, so we remain a competitive tourist destination.  

Thanks for letting me represent you on the House Science,Technology & Energy Committee!

— — Hollis Brookline News Online
By Representative Kat McGhee, M.Ed., PMP
September 21, 2021