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New State Energy Policy Aims to Lower Rates, Let Nuclear & Gas Compete With Renewables

Jim Richmond

New Hampshire is refocusing its energy policy for the next decade, aiming to prioritize lower costs for consumers and to allow “unaided market competition” for all forms of energy.

In the new 10-year strategy, state officials pledge to make New Hampshire’s energy rates – the third-highest in the Lower 48 states – cheaper for residential and commercial ratepayers.

They say they’ll get there by prioritizing energy efficiency, which they call “the cheapest and cleanest energy resource,” and by creating a more predictable process for building new energy projects, whether traditional or renewable.

The strategy also says New Hampshire should plan to rely on natural gas for the foreseeable future.

And it says New Hampshire should work to keep the Seacoast's Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, which provides more than half the state's energy, open as long as it's economically viable. 

"Preserving Seabrook Station as a source of zero-carbon energy is the most realistic and cost-effective means of managing emissions in New Hampshire at scale, " the strategy says.

Officials argue that state policy shouldn't play favorites with energy sources or interfere in the free market. Their strategy suggests other New England states, such as Massachusetts, have done just that with subsidies for renewable energy.

Donald Kreis is charged with representing ratepayers at state agencies like the Public Utilities Commission. He says the new policy is a good shift toward affordability and away from renewable power for its own sake.

“It acknowledges that renewables are definitely a major part of the solution to the energy situation, and it simply calls for keeping ratepayers first,” he says. “As the state’s ratepayer advocate, I have to like that.”

State officials say New Hampshire's legislature must devise specific plans to meet the new goals.

“This strategy provides policy guidance for the near and long term,” says energy program administrator Joe Doiron, whose office wrote the plan. “It will be up to policymakers to implement it.”

Read the whole plan here:

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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