Energy-efficiency bill is good for New Hampshire

Efficiency is one of the tools businesses can use to mitigate the rising cost of electricity and fuels

One of the unfortunate truths of doing business in New Hampshire is dealing with the high cost of energy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, we pay the sixth-highest rates for electricity of any state in the country. This makes it much more difficult for New Hampshire’s businesses, especially large energy users like advanced manufacturers, to grow and compete in the global marketplace. It is also a serious drag on New Hampshire’s economy and limits job growth.

Today, more New Hampshire companies are embracing energy efficiency as a way to combat high energy costs. Energy efficiency can be a quick, cost-effective way to reduce a business’s expenses, which can free up capital for new product development and new jobs.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is helping in this effort by sponsoring bipartisan legislation, known as the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. This bill, which U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte is co-sponsoring and has the support of the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Chemistry Council, among others, will increase the use of energy-efficiency technologies across the economy and create new jobs.

The bill directs the Department of Energy to support development of national model energy codes and requires greater transparency in the code development process. This will improve the energy efficiency of buildings, which typically account for 40 percent of all domestic energy use. The potential savings in New Hampshire from adopting recommended energy codes every few years are substantial.

For example, according to the DOE, the average new home in New Hampshire would save $620 a year (a 27.3 percent reduction, on average) if the home is built to the 2012 energy standard, versus the 2009 version.

The bill also provides incentives for industrial energy efficiency, which is crucial if New Hampshire’s advanced manufacturers are to compete in the global marketplace. As noted, energy is one of the largest costs for these job creators.

The Business and Industry Association, which represents more than 400 members that employ 86,000 people throughout New Hampshire and contribute $4.5 billion annually to the state’s economy, has long supported energy efficiency.

We have conducted numerous seminars and educational forums to promote and encourage the business community to employ energy-efficiency projects, initiatives and tools, and have supported state legislation to increase efficiency and lower energy costs.

The BIA views energy efficiency as one of the tools New Hampshire businesses can use to mitigate the rising cost of electricity and fuels, which helps businesses, those who work for them and our economy as a whole.

We are glad to see energy-efficiency legislation move forward in Washington that will benefit New Hampshire homeowners, businesses and manufacturers. Senator Shaheen and her colleagues should be commended for their work on this bill, which has broad, bipartisan support.

It’s good for the country and for New Hampshire.

Jim Roche is president of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.

Categories: Opinion