N.H.’s RGGI law – no apologies required

I just read another one of those “Ban the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative” articles (“Quit RGGI and boost the economy,” Jan. 28-Feb. 10 NHBR), written on behalf of coal and oil interests that have billions invested in fossil fuel consumption.

They do not like RGGI because it is bad for their business. What is good for their business is for New Hampshire to continue bleeding nearly three billion dollars per year from our economy on imported fossil fuels. Let’s rethink this: RGGI is good for New Hampshire business and for New Hampshire energy consumers.

RGGI is a smart idea to help manage an intractable, long-term, energy and environmental problem. We do not and cannot produce fossil fuels and the associated jobs here in New Hampshire. On the other hand, our state enjoys the huge advantages of a highly educated workforce, trained by some of America’s best colleges and universities, and a burgeoning crop of energy entrepreneurs with access to sufficient capital to grow the new clean energy and energy efficiency industries.

Our RGGI law is helping this intellectual army of engineers and tradespeople gain good-paying jobs and careers in the rapidly growing energy efficiency professions.

Increased energy efficiency is the single most cost-effective way for New Hampshire business to stay competitive in the region and world.
Killing RGGI would be a clear reversal of New Hampshire’s policy of fostering economic growth by reducing costs of imported energy.

It makes no economic sense for a state burdened with extremely high electricity and fossil fuel prices to reverse a law that requires 100 percent of the RGGI funds to be reinvested in lowering our need for high-priced energy. RGGI, along with our core electric efficiency programs, have proved that investments in energy efficiency provide high returns to their investors at a near-zero risk of failure.

Energy efficiency costs about one-third the price of metered electricity, saving money for New Hampshire municipalities, homeowners and businesses.

Consider the town of Hollis, whose board of selectmen and school board approved a project in which 12 percent of the total project cost was supplied by RGGI funds. It allowed the town to complete an energy-efficiency project previously stalled for three years due to lack of funding.

This project, improving efficiency at schools and town buildings, permanently freed up over 150 kilowatts of electricity demand and will provide an annual savings of $63,000 in electricity costs. This is equivalent to removing the electricity load of 30 residential homes from New Hampshire’s power distribution system.

While carbon reduction was not the town’s primary motivation for developing and implementing the project, annual emissions were reduced by 200 tons.

Although RGGI was not expressly intended to be an integral part of our state’s resource and economic development policy, this is what it has become. New Hampshire’s natural resource is its environment: gorgeous lakes, rivers, streams, parks and coastlines. A law that reduces pollution, under any name, helps keep this resource attractive to we who live here and to the millions who visit and drive our hospitality industry.

The only winners from New Hampshire’s withdrawal from RGGI would be fossil fuel interests from Kentucky, Wyoming, Iran and Venezuela whose goal is to keep us dependent and to keep our $3 billion in energy dollars flowing out of our economy and into theirs for years to come. Let’s hear about energy policy from New Hampshire conservatives who are motivated by New Hampshire’s long-run economic interests.

James M. Grady is president and chief executive of LighTec Inc., Merrimack.

Categories: Opinion