- The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission last week approved a new efficiency standard that will significantly improve on the program which has been in use for almost 15 years, the Sentinel Source reports.The new savings targets will ramp up from 0.8% annually to 1-1.3%, by the end of the decade.
- The new Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) replaces efficiency programs regulators administered since 2012; operated through the PUC's Core program, the older targets include savings goals of 0.6% and 0.66% for electric and gas savings, respectively.
- The new targets begin in January 2018, targeting cumulative electric savings of 3.1%, and gas savings of 2.25%.
Regulators in New Hampshire acknowledge the new efficiency standards will raise rates, but they say the energy savings will be enough to offset the cost.
Funding will come from increases to the system benefits charge and the local distribution adjustment charge, both of which show up on electric and gas bills. But regulators are also looking to other funding sources, including private capital, to offset the costs.
“Any short-term rate impacts will be outweighed by the benefits of increased energy efficiency for participating customers and, in the long term, lower energy supply costs for all customers,”
Amanda Noonan, director of the PUC's Consumer Services and External Affairs Division, said in a statement. “Low-income households in particular face more significant obstacles to investing in energy efficiency. The increased funding provided by the EERS for those households will help ensure all customers have the opportunity to participate in energy efficiency.”
On the electric side, the new savings targets will replace a 0.6% goal included in the commission's Core program. On the gas side, the targets will rise from 0.7% in 2018, to 0.75% and 0.8% in the following years. The gas targets replace a savings goal of 0.66% currently in place.
New Hampshire regulators will have oversight of the development of specific EERS programs and their implementation. The utilities will administer the EERS programs, but regulators retain authority to approve the programs. The commission will also take input from stakeholders, including from the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Board.
The PUC also made provision for expert resources including independent third-party evaluation, measurement, and verification of savings and cost.
"The Commission believes that broad and continued stakeholder input and rigorous evaluation of EERS programs will ensure that the energy efficiency goals of the EERS are met at the lowest reasonable cost to customers," regulators said in their statement.
While efficiency tends to have broad support, not everyone was pleased with the commission's decision.
New England Ratepayers Association President Marc Brown told the Sentinel that his group opposes using ratepayer money to improve efficiency. “If something isn’t good to undertake with your own private capital, it’s definitely not a good thing otherwise,” he said.