NH House to vote on changes to RGGI fund rebates

Bill would mean rate cut for businesses, more energy-efficiency programs for residences

New Hampshire businesses would receive a small electric rate cut, though lose some energy-efficiency programs, while the reverse will be true for residents if Senate Bill 492 is approved in the NH House on Wednesday.

SB 492 pertains to the way funds generated by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are spent. Under RGGI, power producers pay into a fund for each ton of carbon they put into the air. When the multi-state program first started, New Hampshire was one of the few states that devoted all of the RGGI money to energy efficiency, but it then decided to rebate all but $1 per ton of carbon back to ratepayers.

Under SB 492, all funds earmarked for businesses would be rebated, while no residential funds would be. The additional rebates for businesses will also be small. Larger businesses, those with a demand of over 1,000 kilowatts, will receive an average of $200 a month off their bill, meaning most businesses will get much less.

Residential bills will increase an average of $1.30 to $1.70 a month, but funding for energy-efficiency programs would be increased, particularly for low-income weatherization, which has a waiting list of more than 10,000.

Funding would also be earmarked for municipalities, which also will receive the large-user rate reduction, with the idea being that some of the savings will be passed on to both residents and business.

The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee recommended passage of the bill, 12-5, but it could face a floor fight. Opponents decried it as income redistribution. Even if the bill passes, it could be sent to the House Finance Committee afterwards.

Other legislation

Among the other bills being considered by the House on Wednesday:

 • SB 519, which would allow for small brand identification on interstate service signs regarding food, fuel and attractions, though the latter can only be advertised north of Concord.

 • SB 444, which would lift the cap from $30,000 to $50,000 on the amount a vendor can make on selling a winning lottery ticket.

 • SB 377, which would place new limits on municipal incinerators.

 • SB 417, which would ban non-compete clauses in physician contracts with hospitals.

 • SB 232, which would permit hospitals to hire guards authorized to use force, including deadly force, to prevent the death or serious bodily injury.

 • SB 491 and SB 495, which would allow home health services to follow the patient outside the home.

 • SB 488, which would create an advisory committee to study a bill requiring a reasonable and sanitary place for lactating mothers.

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