- The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has suspended portions of a November order that dramatically cut funding to the state's NHSaves energy efficiency program.
- The decision last fall would have lowered rates funding the efficiency programs to their 2017 levels by 2023. The PUC's Thursday decision restores funding to 2020-2021 levels, effective immediately.
- Several parties, including the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), challenged the PUC's rate cut in the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and the group said it is still up to the court to make a decision. "The work isn’t over yet,” CLF attorney Nick Krakoff said in a statement.
The immediate threat to New Hampshire efficiency programs has abated, but advocates say the PUC's November order created turmoil that must now be addressed by courts and lawmakers.
The NHSaves program is a collaboration of the state's electric and natural gas utilities: Eversource, Liberty Utilities, New Hampshire Electric Co-op and Unitil.
"There remains substantial programmatic uncertainty caused by the order, but some of that will be resolved by a forthcoming bill, HB 549," Sam Evans-Brown, executive director of Clean Energy New Hampshire, said in a tweet.
The bill will "reinstate the pre-existing systems for evaluation, measurement and verification, benefit-cost testing, budget carry-forwards, and utility performance incentives," he said. "Nerdy stuff, but all of it essential for carrying out the state's efficiency policy."
Along with CLF, the New Hampshire Office of the Consumer Advocate and the state's utilities also filed challenges in the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
"It is still up to the Supreme Court to decide on a path forward," CLF said.
"The decision to gut popular energy efficiency programs was irresponsible and radical, and today's news is a step in the right direction," Krakoff said. "Nevertheless, it's still up to the Supreme Court to officially reject the PUC's rollbacks of energy efficiency programs and put the state on a path to a cleaner, more affordable energy future."
The PUC's Thursday order concluded it was "just and reasonable" to restore funding to NHSaves, but also noted the commission "has no reason to question the process by which it arrived at the rate reduction."