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Committee votes to recommend bill creating renewable portfolio standard exemption

A close up photograph of a building with two solar panels on it.
Dave Cummings
/
New Hampshire Bulletin
The exemptions carved out in HB 614 would decrease the amount of money going into a renewable energy fund that is used for developing renewable projects in the state.

The House Ways and Means Committee has given the green light to a bill that would exempt state and local governments, including cities and towns, from paying into what’s called the renewable portfolio standard.

This story was first published by New Hampshire Bulletin.

The “ought to pass” recommendation on Wednesday for House Bill 614, which was retained last session, followed a flurry of work sessions that started in September and concluded just this month.

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Republicans supported the bill – which has been called a “House priority” – while Democrats opposed it.

The exemptions carved out in HB 614 would decrease the amount of money going into a renewable energy fund that is used for developing renewable projects in the state, including hydropower, solar power, and solar projects for low- and moderate-income communities.

Proponents of the bill estimate it could save a small town like Epping around $3,000, while a larger city like Manchester could see around $250,000 in savings. But opponents say reducing grant money that’s available for renewable energy projects is shortsighted.

The bill would give the state and municipalities the option to opt-out of the exemption. That is, if a town wanted to continue paying into the renewable portfolio standard, it could, although it would no longer be required.

Clean Energy New Hampshire opposes the bill. Kelly Buchanan, the nonprofit’s director of regulatory affairs, said one concern stems from utilities testifying that the exemption would create a lot of new administrative work and essentially force utilities to create a new rate class for cities or towns that would be exempted from paying into the renewable portfolio standard. She said it was a bad idea to take money out of the fund while increasing administrative costs, and that ratepayers would end up footing the bill. Buchanan said another source of concern at Wednesday’s committee meeting was confusion among lawmakers about what the bill would do, as well as what the renewable energy fund does and how it functions.

The full House will vote on the bill once the next legislative session gets underway in January.

New Hampshire Bulletin is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. New Hampshire Bulletin maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Dana Wormald for questions: info@newhampshirebulletin.com. Follow New Hampshire Bulletin on Facebook and Twitter.