Why energy-efficiency programs are good for New Hampshire businesses, consumers

They deliver economic, environmental and public health benefits
© Leise Jones Photography

Allí Gold Roberts (Leise Jones Photography)

For New Hampshire consumers and businesses, the benefits of reducing energy waste is just common sense. Now, as the state works to build back economically from the pandemic, New Hampshire can harness statewide energy efficiency efforts through NHSaves programs to create local jobs, help hard-hit industries, protect vulnerable populations, and improve air quality and public health.

More than ever, New Hampshire needs tested, proven investments — like energy efficiency — that pay for themselves. The Granite State currently has an important window of opportunity to accelerate its recovery by doubling down on its energy-efficiency programs. Over the summer, utilities submitted an ambitious draft plan to increase the state’s energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) for 2021-23 to the Public Utility Commission’s Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy (EESE) Board. The PUC is now deciding whether or not to approve this proposed increase.

Cost savings are the most clear cut benefit to wasting less energy. Energy efficiency programs deliver value to every consumer and business—whether or not they directly participate. This is because energy efficiency programs reduce the total power needed to keep the lights on across the state. Using less electricity means lower transmission and distribution costs for all customers, increased grid reliability and lower costs from reducing the need to use dirty, expensive power plants during periods of peak demand.

At the same time, increasing investments in energy efficiency puts local contractors to work installing energy efficiency upgrades. These investments create local jobs and help keep consumer’s energy dollars in-state, strengthening New Hampshire’s economy.

Energy efficiency also protects public health and the environment by significantly reducing carbon emissions and other harmful pollutants. The proposed energy saving targets for electric and gas utilities will lead to emissions reductions equivalent to removing just under one million cars from New Hampshire’s roads for one year.

Members of the business community have come out in support of the proposal. Among them, the Ceres BICEP Network — a coalition of nearly 70 major employers and large electricity customers across the U.S. — submitted letters

to the PUC in both July and October.

The proposal to increase the state’s EERS also reflects the New Hampshire Clean Energy Principles. More than 120 local businesses representing the manufacturing, health, hospitality, financial services and agricultural sectors in the Granite State signed these principles in 2019.

The companies highlight the importance of energy efficiency and clean energy solutions to their businesses and the competitive advantage that investments in market-driven clean energy programs give New Hampshire’s businesses and workforce.

These businesses understand that reducing energy use has a direct, positive impact on their bottom line. The utilities’ modeling shows that an increased EERS would lower electricity bills for the majority of New Hampshire’s commercial and industrial customers. This will create more resources for companies to reinvest back into their business, employees and local communities.

Despite all of these many benefits, some business groups take aim at the proposed EERS, citing the short-term costs. However, the pandemic has clearly shown the importance of taking early action to combat big challenges, the need to support local jobs, and the value of policies that improve public health.

A stronger EERS will deliver numerous economic, environmental and public health benefits for New Hampshire—including lower energy costs for New Hampshire’s commercial and industrial users. The PUC should approve the plan as soon as possible.

Alli Gold Roberts is director of state policy at Ceres.

Categories: Energy and Environment, Opinion