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Department of Energy joins those asking PUC to reconsider energy efficiency decision

A photo of a residential electricity meter.
Dave Cummings
/
New Hampshire Bulletin
The commission ruled the price was too high and would place “an enormous burden on New Hampshire ratepayers.

The N.H. Department of Energy asked the Public Utilities Commission to either clarify or reconsider a contentious November decision cutting funding for state energy efficiency programs.

This article was first published by New Hampshire Bulletin.

The request was filed by Department of Energy attorney Brian Buckley on Friday, the same day that all of the state’s utilities, along with environmental, clean energy, and ratepayer advocates, filed a motion for rehearing for the same decision. As of Monday afternoon, the Department of Energy’s motion had not been publicly posted to the PUC website. The full text is available in a PDF below.

The motion cites several issues with the November decision that were identified by prior utilities commission staff, who are now employees at the Department of Energy. Those issues include:

  • The use of the Granite State Test: The Granite State Test is a cost-effectiveness test that was designed and created upon request of the PUC to gauge the return on investment of the state’s energy efficiency programs. But in the November decision, the PUC rejects the test, saying it is subjective and difficult to understand. The Department of Energy says the decision isn’t clear about how cost-effectiveness will be determined, and that there isn’t evidence to support the PUC’s criticisms of the Granite State Test.
  • Due process: The PUC decision – issued on Nov. 12 – set a Dec. 15 deadline for utilities to file plans for new energy efficiency programs based on the rates outlined in the decision. The Department of Energy says Dec. 15 should be the start of a longer process which should take up to four months, roughly the same amount of time that was spent developing the last two iterations of the state’s energy efficiency plan.

This is the first time the Department of Energy has officially weighed in on the energy efficiency decision.

Chris Ellms, the deputy commissioner of the Department of Energy, said in a written statement the Department of Energy reviewed the order and decided it was in the state’s interest to seek either clarification or rehearing on a number of points. He said that while the department shares some of the concerns raised in the utilities joint motion, “the New Hampshire Department of Energy believes we have significant and specific issues with the November order that were appropriate for us to address.”

“We look forward to the Commission’s response to our Motion and are hopeful that it will bring needed clarity and stability to all involved in New Hampshire’s energy efficiency sector,” Ellms said.

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.