Study: N.H. Saved $83 Million With Small Solar In Recent Years | New Hampshire Public Radio

Study: N.H. Saved $83 Million With Small Solar In Recent Years

Dec 7, 2020

A solar installation in Peterborough.
Credit Amy Quinton / NHPR file photo

A new report finds that small-scale solar power saved New Hampshire residents and utilities at least $83 million over the past several years, out of $1.1 billion in savings across New England.

The study, commissioned by local advocacy groups from the research firm Synapse Energy Economics, looked at newly available data on the region’s hourly solar production from 2014 to 2019.

It found that solar arrays of less than 5 megawatts helped lower energy demand, energy prices and public health costs, by supplanting fossil fuels.

Savings per New Hampshire resident were around $20 a year, and nearly double that in states with more solar capacity, such as Massachusetts.

Dan Clapp, a partner at New Hampshire-based ReVision Energy, says it shows Granite State lawmakers should do more to encourage solar growth.

“In New Hampshire, in the past, we have too frequently focused on potential short-term costs of the policies and programs without considering the long-term benefits and savings like the ones described in this report,” he said at a virtual press conference last week. “So it's pretty exciting to see.”

Many Republicans in the state Legislature's new majority say they're skeptical of the value of solar energy. Clapp hopes this data will help change their minds.

"Our legislators need to work to improve on these policies, now that we know from this report that it'll result in millions of dollars in ratepayer savings - not work to tear them down in New Hampshire,” he said.

Expanded policies that have been blocked by New Hampshire conservatives in recent years, such as net metering and renewable portfolio standards, are credited with helping to jump-start solar adoption and job creation in states like Massachusetts and Maine.

The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that New Hampshire ranks 41st in the country for solar use as of this year, two places lower than it was in 2019. SEIA says the state has about 122 megawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power nearly 20,000 homes. 

By comparison, SEIA ranks Massachusetts 8th in the nation with more than 2,800 megawatts of solar capacity.