U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster wants to require utility companies to produce at least 25 percent of their power from renewable energy sources like wind, solar and biomass by 2025. Kuster is co-sponsoring legislation to create a national Renewable Electricity Standard. She says doing so would help create nearly 300,000 jobs, cut pollution and save consumers almost $100 billion on their utility bills by 2030. According to Kuster, 29 states, including New Hampshire, already have renewable generation standards.
A big priority for environmental groups – The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, or LCHIP – has survived through budget negotiations. But that win comes at the expense of a raid on funds set aside for renewable energy development.
Under the budget deal struck today LCHIP was allotted the full $8 million dollars that it’s expected to raise. The program uses funds raised from fees tacked on certain real-estate transactions to pay for land conservation grants.
Dear EarthTalk: Renewable energy production in the solar and wind markets currently receives about $7 billion in government subsidies annually, but is still not competitive against fossil fuels on a large scale. To what extent should the U.S. continue to prop up these industries as they compete against dirty energy?-- Jack Morgan, Richmond, VA
Regulators have given Public Service of New Hampshire, the state’s largest electric utility, permission to phase out its EarthSmart Green rate, which allows customers pay more to support renewable energy. PSNH asked for relief from the program because just 148 customers are signed up; that’s about .04 percent percent of their customers.
But it’s a phenomenon that isn’t unique to PSNH. In general New Hampshire rate-payers haven’t been convinced to switch to more expensive renewable rates.
This sun-fueled source is one of the fastest growing types of renewables in the country. Although still a tiny piece of the energy portfolio, many are taking note of this expansion, including traditional utilities. We’re looking at these brightening prospects for solar in New Hampshire and New England and the challenges that might cloud its future growth.
New Hampshire is one of only three states with a split legislature: Republicans control the Senate, Democrats the House of Representatives. The two bodies have shown an ability to work together on some issues this session, including business tax credits and limits on lead fishing tackle.
But with the end of the legislative year fast approaching, inter-chamber gamesmanship is on the rise. It can start simple enough. A routine legislative procedure on the House floor.
Dear EarthTalk: I recently saw an article extolling the virtues of natural gas as an abundant, inexpensive and domestically produced automotive fuel. Is this going to be the automotive fuel of the future and how green is it? -- Jason Kincaide, New Bedford, MA