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Lawmakers Poised to Decide RGGI's Future in N.H.

Renewvia Energy Corp

State legislators vote Tuesday on a range of energy-related bills that were delayed last week, including two about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The nine-state carbon cap-and-trade program known as RGGI lets polluters either cut emissions or buy credits to keep polluting. The money from those credits goes to the states for customer rebates and energy efficiency projects.

On Tuesday, state lawmakers will vote - not for the first time - on pulling out of RGGI entirely.

They could amend that bill to keep the program in place, but put 100 percent of its proceeds toward customer rebates.

The House Science, Technology and Energy committee has recommended passing the bill with that amendment.

Lawmakers will also vote on an opposing bill that would redirect residential RGGI rebate money toward more efficiency upgrades for schools and low-income families. The energy committee has recommended killing that bill.

Lawmakers are also considering a measure to slow planned escalation of the Renewable Portfolio Standards, or RPS. It tells utilities how much clean energy to use in their fuel mix.

Ahead of the votes, some businesses are speaking out in support of programs like RGGI and the RPS.

Dennis Sasseville is sustainability manager for Nashua-based Worthen Industries, which makes waterproof fabrics and other materials for companies like Nike and Timberland.

He says those customers want Worthen using clean energy – which RGGI and the RPS encourage utilities to supply, at what Sasseville sees as a negligible cost to ratepayers.

"We're supportive of that general approach, even if we don't directly benefit from any rebates or funding that we could tap into," Sasseville says.

Worthen has invested its own money in solar power in recent years, including putting more than 2,700 solar panels on the roof of its Nashua headquarters. Sasseville says the $2 million-dollar project covers nearly half of their energy needs, and should pay for itself in about five years.

He says he feels keeping up a visible interest in clean power will help raise New Hampshire's profile in New England, and attract new workers and businesses.

"If we want to shine among our brethren here, we need to do some things to be leaders, not laggards," he says. "And I think clean energy is certainly one area that provides direct jobs, and also sends a message to millennials and others out there in the workforce that New Hampshire is the place where you want to be."

Worthen is one of more than 50 New Hampshire companies that have asked the general court to support clean energy policies.

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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