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Should N.H. Establish A State Department of Energy? Governor Signs Study Bill

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A new state commission will study whether New Hampshire should have a Department of Energy.

Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill setting up the panel this week.

Right now, several agencies carry out state energy policy – including the Department of Environmental Services, the Public Utilities Commission and the governor's Office of Strategic Initiatives, formerly known as the Office of Energy and Planning.

Don Kreis is the state advocate for residential utility consumers, and he'll also sit on the new commission.

"The purpose of considering whether to establish a department of energy is to take a look at what the optimal way of making energy policy is for a state like ours."

To that end, he says the commission will study how other states are handling their energy programs.

"I am interested in basically defining what assumptions drive the way we do things now, and questioning all of those assumptions and taking this wherever it leads us."

Kreis says he hopes to analyze how New Hampshire carries out one mandate in particular – to make sure utilities protect residents as much as possible from the economic effects of new energy policies.

"I think that we need to do a better job of effectuating that state policy,” Kreis says.

The commission’s members will represent both parties in the legislature, as well as utilities, lobbying groups and various state agencies.

Their first report is due out this November.

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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