Policy Updates

Crossover in the legislature
Things are picking up again after the Legislature's spring break. You can view pictures of them having fun in Cancun here.  Just kidding, but do keep reading for some important bills that have shifted from one body to the next, and are having their second round of hearings...
  • SB 51 (Study Committee to review RPS subsidies) - Passed the Senate and is now in the House STE Committee. The public hearing is scheduled for 3/15 at 1:00pm in Legislative Office Building Room 304. NHSEA did not oppose this is in the Senate because it is a study committee bill, but clearly the framing of it is not ideal. This is a pick-your-battles type of situation. If passed, then we will fully engage with the committee to ensure conclusions that are accurate and supportive of clean energy.
  • SB 124 (Commission to study municipal regulation and incentives for solar energy). Passed the Senate and referred to STE but not yet scheduled for a hearing --please stay tuned, this can be a useful bill and NHSEA supports it.  
  • SB 125 (Committee to study transmission and distribution costs in the state's energy system). The public hearing is scheduled for 3/15 at 2:00pm in Legislative Office Building Room 304.  Study bills can prove useful later on for justifying legislation. NHSEA does not yet have a position on this bill but if it passes it is important to engage with the committee to ensure accurate information and conclusions are reached.  
  • Other Bill updates:  HB 574 passed the House and now goes to the Senate. HB 225 passed the House as amended to ONLY require REC reporting (does NOT repeal the RPS). SB 129 is going to the full Senate floor for a vote on Thursday.  SB 128 was voted out of committeeon 3/14 2-1 with an amendment, which is pending NHSEA review.  
Compromise in Net Metering

As part of the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) process to determine the state’s future around renewable energy across the Granite State, the Energy Future Coalition, including NHSEA, submitted a settlement proposal with the goal of achieving compromise using a proven, data-driven approach to enable lower energy costs for consumers, continued economic growth and job creation for the state, and the opportunity to position New Hampshire as a leader for clean energy.

The Energy Future Coalition is an alliance of local and national solar businesses, energy industry representatives, and clean energy advocates seeking to find a data-driven, New Hampshire-specific solution that is good for local consumers, utilities, and businesses alike. New Hampshire policymakers demonstrated tremendous leadership last year by signing HB 1116 into law and doubling the state’s solar net metering cap -- net metering is a policy that enables the right to self generation and fair credit for power sent back to the grid. The bill also initiated the state’s PUC to launch a 10-month proceeding to explore the future of clean energy policy in New Hampshire. As the PUC nears a decision, this coalition’s proposed compromise offers a path forward for the state to begin driving down energy costs for consumers and making the state more energy independent, while protecting ratepayers, thousands of good jobs, and continuing to grow the renewable energy economy. 

You can read the joint settlement proposal HERE.

 

Legislative Update: Pending Bill updates, EERS now at stake in Budget Bill, and much more

The House STE committee and Senate are on a break this week, so take a deep breath and enjoy a teeny-tiny bit of downtime. That said, anything can suddenly happen throughout the session from one day to the next, so don't get too comfortable. There are no new legislative hearings, but there are several important developments on existing bills and energy-related issues that appeared in HB 2, the binennium budget bill.  Here is our newest update from the front:

Existing bills:
  • HB 317 - (Prohibiting the PUC from increasing the System Benefits Charge without legislative approval). This bill was retained in Committee, which is great news but we will still need to watch it next year.  
  • HB 592 - (Repealing RGGI) - This bill was retained in Committee.  This is good but not as good as killing it outright. We will need to watch this bill next year. 
  • HB 401 - (Relative to Grid Modernziation) - Due to the delay in the final PUC report resulting from the information proceeding on Grid Mod, the committee decided to retain this bill for next year to work on it constructively with full information on the report and resulting PUC action. 
  • HB 559 - (Relative to RGGI auction proceeds spending on EE programs). This bill would have increased RGGI proceeds for use on low-income, muni, and residential efficiency programs. It was retained in committee, which is [small] progress from it being killed or tabled, as it was last year. 
  • SB 128 - (An Act relative to the policy goals of electric restructuring). This bill had its hearing last week in the Senate. NHSEA registered in opposition because this bill helps give the utilities broad latitude to invest in any project that MIGHT lower energy costs, subject to approval at the PUC. Namely, it could help them invest in pipelines, get approval on long term PPAs (e.g. Northern Pass), and even open the door to a direct utility play in the DER market.  This all comes at the same time utilities continue to fight net metering, drag their feet on grid modernization, and other policies that would continue to open up markets to innovation and new technologies.  This bill has not yet been scheduled for a work session, but you can contact the Senate Energy Committee and your own Senator to express your concerns about this bill.  
  • SB 129 - (Relative to improving the RPS) - Last week, Eversource began to circulate cost estimates on this bill, telling Senators that the legislation will increase RPS compliance costs to ratepayers, which may make them wary about passing it. This argument should be countered with the lowered resulting costs on the thermal class changes contemplated in the bill and the lowered costs that additional solar energy can bring to the system, as the ISO-NE has concluded. This bill is also essential to bill credit sharing for low income group net metered projects and for low-income project assistance from the REF. Please continue to support this bill through calls, emails, and direct contact with the Senate Energy committee members.  
New developments in HB2:
  • Renewable Energy Fund appropriations in budget bill - HB2 would divert 20% of the REF each year to send to the low-income Electric [bill] Assistance Program. As the REF currently only receives about ~$4M each year, this would be a touch loss to the grant and incentive programs. We know however that low-income sectors need assistance with energy costs, therefore we need to find a better way to fund these programs rather than pitting renewable energy against low-income.  You can read more about the EAP program here
  • EERS limitations in budget bill - At item 52 in HB 2, it says that the PUC cannot expend funds to implement the EERS. Similar language appeared in the 2015 budget bill. It is unclear at this point if this language relates to SBC funds or general funds - stay tuned.  This language is problematic, it is just unknown still how problematic it will be for the EERS. The budget bill is first heard and worked on in the House Finance Committee.  
  • The Office of Energy and Planning would come under a new nomenclature, The Office of Strategic Planning. 
What is Going on in Concord Re: Energy?? This.
It has been a very busy six weeks in the NH State Legislature. A lot of harsh bills that attacked clean energy were filed, but recently those efforts have been held back. Keep reading for full details! 
 
RPS-related bills:
  • HB 114 (Bill to freeze Class I requirements at 6% instead of allowing its increase to 15% of retail sales): Retained. This means it will be held in committee through the end of the session and will likely be acted upon next year.  Good result for now, will need to watch next year. 
  • HB 199 (Bill to include large hydro in Class IV): Voted Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) 21-0. Good result.
  • HB 225 (Bill to repeal the RPS entirely): This bill was amended by the committee to remove all repeal language and insert language instead about quarterly REC reporting requirements. The amendment is attached here. If you have concerns about the amendment language, please let us know. Good result
  • HB 141 (Bill to let some hydro fulfill Class I requirements) - The committee is still working on amendments to this bill. Uncertain. 
  • SB 129 (Bill to improve the RPS, increase Class II, add low-income benefits): This bill had strong support at the hearing, including support for an amendment to remove the 10 kW threshold requirement for residential solar rebates.  It should pass the Senate fairly easily, given the strong sponsorship and bipartisan support.  Good progress so far. 
Net-Metering Bill:
  • HB 518 (Bill to remove net metering cap AND drop compensation rate to average monthly wholesale prices): Retained 20-1. This is good but ITL would have been better. We need to stay vigilant on this bills and others like it as the PUC process on net metering draws to a close later this session.  Good result for now, will need to watch next year. 

RGGI-related and energy efficiency Bills:

  • HB 592 (Bill to repeal RGGI in NH). This bill, as always, faces strong opposition.  It is unlikely to pass the House, but if it does, it is even less likely to pass the Senate. As the PUC has clearly stated every year this bill gets filed: pulling NH out of RGGI does not save us on energy costs, but we would lose the benefit of our state auction proceeds.  
  • HB 627 (Bill that would have created an energy efficiency advocate at the expense of our RGGI auction proceeds that we currently use for EE programing for municipalities and other ratepayers). This bill was voted Inexpedient to Legislate by the full committee save the bill sponsor, Representative Vose.  This is a great result. 
Upcoming Hearings and Work/Executive Sessions:
  • SB 128:  Hearing date is 2/21 at 9:15am in State House Room 103.  This is a very dangerous bill that would roll back aspects of electric restructuring to allow utilities to own generation, including renewables and other forms of DER that may be beyond the scope of RSA 374-G.  It is also a bill that would better enable Eversource to invest in their pipeline project and charge ratepayers to do so. This comes after the PUC disallowed such a financing scheme.    
  • HB 401 (Relative to Grid Modernization): Work/Executive session date is 2/21 at 10am and 2pm, respectively. This is a good bill that aims to advance grid mod, building upon the work of the grid mod docket, IR 15-296, at the PUC. 
  • HB 317: Work/Executive session date is 2/21 at 10am and 2pm, respectively. This bill would cause major problems, if not entirely prevent, the EERS and reaching NH's new energy efficiency savings goals.
Renewable Energy Incentive Program Budgets

Here is a summary, as prepared by one of our Board members, on the new program funding for renewable energy technologies in NH. Notice that there is less funding this year for the solar residential and commercial programs.This is due to relatively low ACP revenues that came into the REF this July, only about $4.4 million.  

Renewable Energy Fund Proposed FY17 (July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017) Program Budgets 

 

 

 

 

 SFY 2016

 SFY 2017

Residential solar (PV)

$5,343,975

$2,353,040

Residential solar hot water

$56,200

$50,000

Residential wood pellet boiler

$553,000

$762,990

C & I Solar Category 1

$3,977,801

$2,275,373

C & I Solar Category 2

$3,886,067

$1,096,387

C & I biomass heating systems

$1,461,789

$956,245

C & I competitive grants

$875,000

$1,000,000

Total program funds

$16,153,895

$8,494,035

Grid Modernization 101

Work on Grid Modernization in NH has begun (and has been underway to some extent for a few years). At the regulatory level, over the next several months, a NH Grid Mod Working Group will meet and develop a report for the PUC Commissioners.

Grid modernization offers opportunities to solve the challenges facing the NH electric grid by using innovative technologies and methods to upgrade our grid for the 21st century. This will allow NH to remain competitive in the region while simultaneously delivering system-wide efficiencies and benefits.

Read NHSEA's Grid Modernization 101 overview HERE!

A Big Leap Forward for NH's EERS

The effort to implement an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) for New Hampshire took a big leap forward on May 2nd 2016, where diverse group of stakeholders presented their settlement agreement before the NH Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The settlement agreement includes savings targets of 3.1% of 2014 retail electric sales and 2.25% of retail gas sales by 2020. Beyond 2020 the goal will be to work toward capturing all cost-effective energy efficiency. 

Other New England States including Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island already have an EERS, a long term (3+ years), binding energy savings target. Implementing an EERS is a very effective way for a state to achieve long-term energy savings because it incorporates specific targets and accountability. In 2013, states with an EERS in place saved on average an incremental 1.1% of retail sales of electricity, whereas states without an EERS only saved 0.3% on average. 

Link to the full EERS Summary HERE

News from the Electrician's Board Following ITL of SB333

 

The NH Electrician’s Licensing Board released a statement this week relating to the installation of electrical components for solar PV systems. Below is the content of this statement:

On May 3, 2016, the Electricians' Licensing Board (Board) held a special meeting to review the Board’s position on electrical licensing regarding photovoltaic (PV) installations.  The intent of this meeting was to provide clarification of when a New Hampshire Electricians’ License, under the scope of RSA 319-C, is required for certain parts of a PV installation.  

The task of assembling, affixing or attaching the means to support PV racks or other PV support structures that are not identified in the listing or manufacturer’s instructions as a required component of the Equipment Grounding System, shall be permitted to be performed by persons not licensed under RSA 319:C.

When required any and all bonding or grounding of the means to support PV racks or other PV support structures shall be done by persons licensed under RSA 319:C, in accordance with Article 690 of the currently adopted version of the National Electrical Code (NFPA-70).

The release of this statement comes a week after the House Committee on Science, Technology, and the Environment ITL’ed (killed) SB333.  

It’s Official: Gov. Hassan Signs Net Metering Bill into Law

On Monday, May 2, 2015, New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan signed into law HB1116. This marks the official raise of the state’s net metering cap from 50MW to 100MW. More than that, it represents the result of months of collaborative efforts between industry, policy makers, and advocates who were determined to keep the state’s renewable energy and consumer choice efforts moving forward. NHSEA and NH CleanTech Council members were in the forefront of these efforts.

This means that the existing net metering and group net metering rules continue to apply to the new 50 MW of allowed net metered capacity, including credits for individually net metered systems under 100 kW and payments for larger and group net metered systems. All systems under the 100 MW cap will receive their current payment or credit terms until 2040.  

In her statement following the bill signing, Governor Hassan said:

“Clean energy resources such as solar are helping businesses and families across the state lower their energy bills and increase their energy independence, helping to build a more diverse and reliable energy supply that will lead to a more affordable and more innovative energy future for our state. Lifting the cap on net metering is essential to the continued success of New Hampshire’s solar industry, and I am proud to sign this bipartisan bill so that our clean energy industry can continue to grow and thrive.” 

Attention now shifts to the NH Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which will open a proceeding within three weeks. The agency will have ten months to review net metering and develop a new tariff. Per the new bill, the PUC must consider:

  • the costs and benefits of customer-generator facilities;
  • rate effects on all customers;
  • alternative rate structures, including time based tariffs;
  • whether there should be a limitation on the amount of generating capacity eligible for such tariffs;
  • the size of facilities eligible to receive net metering tariffs; and
  • an avoidance of unjust and unreasonable cost shifting;

NHSEA plans to work with our members and the clean energy industry to advocate for fair and robust net metering tariffs for all parties involved to ensure the continued success of renewable energy implementation in our state. We will provide consistent updates as the proceeding continues. For more information or to get involved, please contact Kate Epsen at kate@nhsea.org  or Brianna Brand at brianna@nhsea.org.

Update on Amendment to PV Installations - SB333 ITL'ed

SB333 may sound familiar, as the bill was originally relative to increasing the net metering cap from 50MW to 75MW. As the House recently passed HB1116 to increase the cap to 100MW, SB333 was amended to “an act relative to the installation of photovoltaic systems”. The purpose of the amendment was to allow non-electricians to install certain non-electrical aspects of photovoltaic systems under RSA 319-C.

The House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee heard from a variety of stakeholders both for and against the amendment on Thursday, April 21, 2016. The Committee got a crash course in the PV installation process from multiple points of view, the electrical components involved in the systems, and safety considerations.

On Tuesday, April 26th, 2016, the Committee held a work session to discuss the amendment to SB333. Again, the Committee heard from several stakeholders including the NH Electrician’s Board, State Fire Marshall’s Office, licensed electricians, and other qualified parties. The Electrician’s Board provided a draft bulletin that it hopes will clarify installation requirements and eliminate the need for legislative action.

If the current language of the bulletin is passed, it would allow non-licensed individuals to assemble, affix or attach the means to support PV racks or other PV support structures that are not identified in the listing or manufacturer’s instructions as a required component of the Equipment Grounding System. Any and all bonding of the means to support PV racks or other support structures must be done by individuals licensed under RSA 319-C.

As a result of this draft bulletin, SB333 was unanimously ITL’ed (killed). If in the future the bulletin does not appear to have solved the issue, the Committee agreed legislative action could be taken. The Electrician’s Board is confident the bulletin will be agreed upon by all members of the Board at their next meeting on Tuesday, May 3rd 2016 at 9:00 am. This meeting is open to everyone and will be held at the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification, 121 South Fruit Street in Concord.

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