Renewable Energy

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The Littleton Zoning Board will continue to hear from residents at a hearing Tuesday about a proposed battery storage project.

Battery energy storage systems use rechargeable lithium ion batteries to store electricity from the grid when prices are low.

What's Next for Renewable Energy Projects in N.H.?

Aug 7, 2019
Amy Quinton for NHPR

The recent defeat of Northern Pass was a major setback for the import of large-scale hydropower into the region.  Meanwhile, efforts to build more solar and wind power are still underway… and some towns and cities have set their own renewable goals. We'll look at the reliability of these technologies… and  talk about their role in the future of our region’s power grid. 

A set of renewable energy bills got bipartisan support in a state legislative committee Tuesday. Most members of the House energy committee voted to advance a bill expanding net energy metering in the state.

The proposal would let towns and businesses generate more of their own power to sell back to the electric grid. Governor Chris Sununu vetoed a version of the plan last year.

Now, this year’s versions of the bill are nearing Sununu’s desk with potentially veto-proof margins of support.

Sustainable Hanover

The Town of Hanover is pushing forward with plans to connect residents with renewable electricity.

Town officials are working with Liberty Utilities and third party suppliers on logistics and pricing, Town Manager Julia Griffin told attendees at a public energy forum Wednesday night.

Hanover became the first community in the state two years ago to set ambitious energy goals through the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A new kind of solar array has begun to pop up in New Hampshire in the past few years.

It's known as a low-income solar project: Grants and donations pay the up-front installation cost, and the savings the array generates go straight to low-income residents.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Energy industry players announced big plans for the future of New Hampshire’s electric grid at a conference in Concord Thursday -- even as some progressive energy ideas continue to stir controversy in state government. 

A major offshore wind developer says it plans to explore the possibility of involving Pease International Tradeport in its business.

Picktricity

New Hampshire-based oil and gas distributor Sprague is getting into the renewable energy business – and they hope new solar panels on their storage tanks are only a first step.

The panels, installed by Massachusetts-based Picktricity, are not the common angled glass variety. These flexible “thin-film” panels can be glued almost anywhere.

Sprague sustainability director Jay Leduc says they've had the panels on top of an inactive oil storage tank in Portland since last spring.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Factories in New Hampshire pay more for energy than they would in almost any other state. There are steps they can take to reduce their costs – but those changes can be expensive, and they could even require policy reform.

Still, some businesses are making investments and getting creative to try and save on energy.

NHPR File Photo

Concord begins work Tuesday on planning how to use only renewable energy to power the community within a few decades.

The capital city passed a goal last summer of going all-renewable for electricity by 2030, and for heat and transportation by 2050.

On Tuesday night, they'll hold the first of three public input sessions on how to achieve those goals.

Raysonho, Grid Engine / Wikimedia commons

New Hampshire regulators have given Liberty Utilities final approval to test a first-of-its-kind home battery storage project.

Liberty will sell Tesla Powerwall batteries to 500 of its customers in Southeastern New Hampshire and the Upper Valley.

Spokesman John Shore says the batteries will charge overnight, storing power when demand and rates are lowest. They can also be charged with solar power installed at the user's home. 

file photo

Keene is the latest New Hampshire municipality to approve a goal of using only renewable energy within a few decades.

The Keene city council approved the non-binding resolution Thursday night 14 to 1.

It says the entire community should work toward using only renewable fuels for electricity by 2030, and for heat and transportation by 2050.

WPS Geography

Business support for offshore wind is building in New Hampshire.

Governor Chris Sununu said Monday he'd requested a federal task force that would be a first step to development.

Steve and Michelle Gerdes / Flicker CC

New Hampshire's members of Congress say they support the call for a select House committee on a "Green New Deal."

The campaign is being led by the group Sunrise Movement and incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Her proposed committee would draft a plan by 2020 to move the U.S. economy off fossil fuels, and combat climate change, by creating new jobs and technology in renewable energy.

UNH/Gonghu Li

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have found a new way to make sustainable fuel out of sunlight.

The process is an artificial form of photosynthesis – where plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into energy.

Here, researchers combined cobalt and urea – both cheap and abundant – to make a yellow material that absorbs sunlight.

That lets the material reduce carbon dioxide from the air into component parts that can be stored as a combustible liquid fuel.

Courtesy ReVision Energy

New Hampshire towns will trade ideas for local energy projects – and talk with policymakers – at a conference Friday in Concord.

The state Sustainable Energy Association has held this expo for the last 10 years.

At the start, local energy solutions director Henry Herndon says, it was mainly residents trading tips for home energy upgrades. Now, the event attracts hundreds of stakeholders in local energy development, including businesses, municipal leaders and lawmakers.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A controversial conference in Portsmouth Friday focused on economic solutions to climate change – while questioning some mainstream scientific views. 

The Portsmouth Conference was the first put on by Citizens Count, a nonpartisan voter education nonprofit.

Its founder is prominent New Hampshire businessman Paul Montrone, who sat in on the conference at a hotel in Portsmouth.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire’s timber industry scored a major victory today as legislators narrowly voted to overturn Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of a bill subsidizing biomass plants.

But lawmakers fell just short of overturning another energy veto that had become intertwined with the biomass bill – one subsidizing net metering.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

State legislators vote Thursday on whether to override two controversial vetoes of bills about energy.

One would subsidize biomass power plants. The other would expand net metering in New Hampshire.

Governor Chris Sununu says both bills would cost residents and businesses too much.

But supporters from the state’s established timber industry and its newer renewable energy sector disagree.

The Debate Over N.H.'s Biomass Industry

Sep 7, 2018

We unravel the complicated debate over N.H.'s biomass industry.  This spring, the governor vetoed two energy-related bills designed to subsidize the biomass industry and expand the state's net metering program.  The governor says the bills would inflate already-high electric rates while supporters argue subsidies are crucial for the forest industry and renewable energy.  The veto created an uproar and an effort is underway to overturn the vetoes on Sept. 13, the legislative "Veto Day." 

GUESTS:

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Hundreds of people from the timber and renewable energy industries crowded the New Hampshire State House lawn Thursday, rallying for legislators to overturn two vetoes they say could put them out of business.

Julian- / Flickr Creative Commons

The Portsmouth City Council voted Tuesday night to expand a tax exemption for home solar panels.

They passed a resolution extending the city’s current exemption to solar arrays of any age, and removing caps on valuations and how long exemptions last.

The value of the panels will be added to homeowners’ property assessment, then immediately deducted, which officials say means the change won't have a big effect on city revenues or residents' tax bills.

NHPR File Photo

Energy has become a focal point in the race to become New Hampshire's next governor.

The region’s high energy rates make it a key economic issue, and climate change make it a crucial environmental one.

Democrats Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand and Republican Governor Chris Sununu are all working to differentiate themselves on those challenges.

Marchand is a self-described energy wonk. He's gone all in on the details of what he calls "generational change."

File

Governors from every New England state but Maine are weighing in on lowering energy rates.

Their joint statement comes as they meet on energy and other issues with leaders from Eastern Canada.

The five governors say they'll work to encourage energy efficiency this coming winter. They say more hydro, wind and natural gas capacity will help lower rates and boost reliability too.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The two Democratic candidates for New Hampshire governor did their best to differentiate themselves at a forum in Exeter Wednesday night.  

The Rockingham County Democrats hosted the event. It was one of the first times Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand have debated face to face in their primary campaign.

Many in the audience asked questions in search of distinctions – but the answers they heard focused more on style than policy.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Molly Kelly was in Hanover Tuesday, reiterating her criticisms of Gov. Chris Sununu’s energy policies.

In June, Sununu vetoed a bill that would have expanded the state's net metering program – where towns and businesses get rebates for generating their own energy.

The town of Hanover is trying to go all-renewable in the coming decades.

An advocacy group says the state's renewable energy mandates rely too much on out-of-state investments and so-called "dirty" fuels.

New Hampshire's renewable energy policy aims to get the state using 25 percent renewable power by 2025. To get there, it increases the required use of different types of renewable fuels every year.

Britta Greene for NHPR

Right now, a group of hydroelectric dams on the Connecticut River are undergoing a once-in-a-generation process – a federal relicensing. NHPR’s Annie Ropeik went to the dams and talked with people who live, work and play nearby about what they hope might change.  

NHPR File Photo

Governor Chris Sununu has signaled he’ll sign a pair of energy-related bills approved by legislators at the end of session last week.

One gives lawmakers control of the system benefits charge. That's a small fee on energy bills that helps pay for energy efficiency upgrades for low-income ratepayers.

Legislators also voted to tell utilities to list the costs of complying with renewable energy standards on electric bills.

Sununu says that will help consumers understand what’s behind New Hampshire’s high energy rates, which are some of the highest in the country.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

State regulators voted unanimously Thursday not to give Eversource a new hearing for its Northern Pass power line proposal.

That means the case, which has stretched for nearly a decade, will likely go before the New Hampshire Supreme Court. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Concord’s city council wants more time to get local businesses on board with a plan to transition to all renewable energy sources within about 30 years.

Councilors in the state capital voted Monday night to get a fiscal review of the proposal before aiming to pass it next month.

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