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N.H. Delegation Pens Opposition To Federal Net Energy Metering Challenge

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New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation is opposing a federal petition that would erode states’ control of a major solar energy policy.

The letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission comes from Sen. Maggie Hassan. It’s co-signed by her New Hampshire colleagues and other Democrats from New England and other states, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The lawmakers want FERC to reject a petition from the Boston-based New England Ratepayers Association. NERA's membership isn't public, but it backs industry-friendly policies and has ties to conservative New Hampshire politics.

The group's petition calls for FERC to take over state-controlled net metering policies, which let energy customers generate their own power, often with rooftop solar, to cut down on their bills.

NERA also echoes a frequent claim from New Hampshire’s governor, arguing that net metering shifts costs onto low-income ratepayers. Regulators have said they can’t determine if that’s true.

The Congressional letter argues against that claim and says states should remain in charge of net metering.

“Customers are not installing systems to become large electricity producers, they are simply seeking to lower their power bills by investing in cost-saving and clean technology,” the letter says. “Customers installed net-metered systems based on the promise – enshrined in the laws and policies of the respective states – that they would receive the credit approved by their commission or legislature on their electricity bills.”

The lawmakers also echo other groups’ calls for NERA to disclose its membership to FERC.

Dozens of state attorneys general, utility regulators, nonprofits and energy companies from across the country have intervened in the FERC docket, signaling their interest in the issue.

New Hampshire officials, besides a couple of state lawmakers, have not signed on to oppose or support the case. The state’s utility consumer advocate has indicated he does not plan to do so.

Public comment on the case was extended and now closes June 15. (Click here and search docket EL20-42 to see all comments and intervenors on the petition.)

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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