Expanding net metering is good for Granite State

It’s time for a more progressive look at clean energy policy in our state

Clean energy is a natural fit for New Hampshire, a state full of freethinkers and problem solvers who cherish their independence. As a global outdoor lifestyle brand based in Stratham, Timberland is proud to be part of this culture. We also firmly believe that we must account for our impact on the planet and on the communities we call home.

Clean energy offers a way for both residents and businesses to be more self-sufficient and control their energy costs. For our part, we’ve set an ambitious goal to power our owned operations with 50% renewable energy by 2020. Smart policies that expand access to clean energy — such as the current proposal in the legislature to increase the cap on net metering projects — are a good fit for the state of New Hampshire. And while our lawmakers have considered similar net metering bills in the past, this year’s bill is a marked improvement to an already smart policy.

Net metering allows utility customers to generate their own renewable energy — whether through a rooftop solar array on your neighbor’s home or a small hydropower generator installed at a local business, to give just two examples. Customers sell excess power back to the grid, providing the surrounding community with locally-produced clean energy and reducing the need to import fossil fuels. New Hampshire currently has a cap on net metering projects so that only those under one megawatt are allowed to sell excess power back to the utility. This artificial, government-imposed cap is hindering clean energy investment in the Granite State.

We at Timberland think it’s time for a more progressive look at clean energy policy in our state. That is why Timberland is one of many companies, including Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, MegaFood, Stonyfield Farm, Worthen Industries and more supporting the House and Senate bills (House Bill 365 and Senate Bill 159), which would raise the project cap on net metering.

The currently proposed bills differ from previous net metering bills in that they include provisions to save all ratepayers money, as electricity rates will reflect the reduced transmission and distribution costs of more locally generated renewable energy. These additional provisions further strengthen the benefits of expanding net metering in our state — which is probably why the New Hampshire House voted to pass their bill with an overwhelming bipartisan majority and why the New Hampshire Senate passed their bill unanimously. We encourage the administration to bring it home.

Timberland prioritizes clean energy because it helps us cut energy costs and stay competitive in a region where neighboring states are leaving us behind when it comes to investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency. And just as importantly, it’s good for the planet. At Timberland we believe that nature needs heroes, and we are proud of our New Hampshire heritage. Investing in clean energy will help strengthen our state’s overall economy, create new jobs and provide our communities with clean power.

We applaud our Legislature for their leadership and commitment to the future of the Granite State. This new bill promises even greater benefits with the improved provisions to save ratepayers money. Granite Staters have shown consistent, bipartisan support for expanding net metering — and we look forward to these bills’ hopeful enactment.

Colleen Vien is sustainability director at Timberland, globally headquartered in Stratham.

Categories: Opinion