How RGGI benefits small businesses
Grant Bosse of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy neglects to discuss the benefits of the program as they affect small businesses and jobs in New Hampshire.Bosse suggests that the RGGI program includes reen energy boondoggles -- that is an unnecessary and erroneous criticism of the many small and mid-sized businesses that are currently participating in this groundbreaking work.The Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire's Energy Efficiency Program, which is now in its third year, is underwritten by the RGGI program. Businesses which enroll and eventually qualify for rebates for energy efficiency investments are required to match those funds 5 to 1. The result is that the program has leveraged hundreds of thousands of dollars in private investment. Today, more than 85 small and mid-size companies across New Hampshire have enrolled.The real story Mr. Bosse should be writing is about the many small and mid-sized businesses who have taken a problem - unaffordable energy costs - and turned it into a success.While it's obvious that the RGGI program has ping-ponged politically over the past couple of years, and is not particularly popular with the current New Hampshire Legislature, it is important to remember that this is a long-term program that is still maturing and advancing.New Hampshire consumers pay into the program through the regional wholesale market, so simply pulling New Hampshire out of the program will only leave us paying for a program and not receiving any of the benefits.In addition, by investing these dollars and the dollars the program leverages here in New Hampshire, we are keeping energy spending local. This is compounded by the fact that less energy purchased means more dollars staying in the local economy.RGGI stands in strong contrast to other top-down environmental regulations. The competitive bidding for the New Hampshire program established a method to invest ratepayer dollars with actual residents and businesses. In the first round of the RGGI Program, project grants were made to some individual companies like Stonyfield Farm and the Gorham mills. Since then, the program has matured and dollars are now allocated in accordance with several customer sector programs, chosen through a competitive bid, and are not granted directly by the PUC to individuals or companies.Mr. Bosse has undertaken a couple of reviews of the RGGI program which for the most part seem biased and based on inaccurate assumptions. His commentary, at least so far, has not offered any practical alternatives. However, in the real world of New Hampshire small and mid-size businesses, trying to control the cost of energy is a major challenge. The goal of RMANH's Energy Efficiency Program is to develop real-world experience in reducing overhead expenses by using an innovative long-term program that lowers pollution levels and assists businesses in controlling energy costs.While it is fair for Mr. Bosse to have and express a negative opinion about the RGGI program, it would be far more helpful for his think tank to offer some actual alternatives. When they do, the Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire will be very happy to work with them to develop and refine better public policy solutions.Nancy C. Kyle is president of the Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire.