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Lawmakers Working on Compromise to Expand N.H.'s Solar Power Incentive

Via USDA website

A compromise is in the works to raise the limit on the number of solar panels being installed on New Hampshire's electricity grid. The deal would likely result in less revenue for solar owners, but would allow the current boom in solar installations to continue.

At an annual energy summit in Concord Monday, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said a bipartisan group is working to lift the cap on a solar incentive called net-metering.

In exchange for lifting the cap, the deal would ask utility regulators to determine a new reimbursement rate for solar power that Bradley says would be “reflective of the cost of service.” Currently, net-metered customers are paid the full retail rate of energy, and Bradley told the crowd “the cost of service [rate] is presumably somewhat less than that.”

Bradley says the group, which includes energy policy makers from both parties, has been consulting with the state’s utilities in crafting its language, which may help ensure the proposal’s success.

“When both sides have something to gain, I would predict that legislation will pass,” he told the crowd.

Two utilities – the New Hampshire Electric Coop and Liberty Utilities – have already hit their net metering cap, and the others are expected to follow shortly. Solar installers have said if the cap is not lifted, their burgeoning business could grind to a halt, and have been pushing hard for a change in the law all summer. 

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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