The state’s municipalities are united behind net metering

New Hampshire cities and towns don’t just want this policy, they need it

New Hampshire is the sum of its parts: 221 towns and 13 cities, spanning the majestic White Mountains to the fertile Upper Valley and the thriving, repurposed mill towns to our precious slice of vibrant Seacoast. Each city and town has unique characteristics, challenges and needs.

But there is a resounding message of united support across the state for one particular policy: the ability to control energy costs and boost tax revenues by net metering renewable energy projects up to 5 megawatts.

Currently, an arbitrary restriction prevents large energy users like municipalities from net metering a renewable energy project larger than 1 megawatt. Projects under 1 megawatt do not produce nearly enough energy to power a large high school or a complex of municipal buildings. Therefore, community efforts to increase energy independence and control costs by installing renewable energy systems are unfairly hindered. Thankfully, there is a solution: House Bill 365.

Both the Senate and House versions of HB 365 would raise the project size net metering cap from 1 megawatt to 5 megawatts, removing a regulatory barrier and expanding competitive options. The investment in these projects by municipalities and businesses will keep our energy dollars in-state, drive economic activity, support jobs and increase state and local business and property tax revenues. Savings on municipal electric bills and more tax revenues will help lower the burden on local taxpayers, including low-income populations and those on fixed incomes.

Countless municipalities, including the town of Pittsfield and the city of Franklin, await this policy to move forward with projects – projects that spur private investment in New Hampshire communities, employ local workers in skilled jobs, and increase electricity supply and diversity to our grid.

Opening up options for larger projects is an exercise in basic economics. As economies of scale come into play, project size has an inverse relationship with construction costs. Essentially, as costs come down, the energy produced from a larger project will actually cost less, and those lower costs can be passed down to ratepayers. Think larger projects, lower costs.

This bipartisan piece of legislation has received overwhelming support from New Hampshire cities and towns. Clearly New Hampshire doesn’t just want this policy, it needs it. We thank our Legislature for recognizing this. Legislators are listening to the needs of the cities and towns they represent and supporting this year’s net metering bills. We urge our elected officials and governor to support HB 365 into law and provide a win-win for ratepayers and taxpayers.

Tony Giunta is mayor of Franklin. Jim Allard represents Merrimack District 21 in the New Hampshire House and is chair of the Pittsfield Board of Selectmen.

Categories: Opinion