Hassan promotes net metering bill

Adam Urquhart Sen. Maggie Hassan speaking with David Sherman, Operations Manager at Essex Power Service, Inc. and Mayor Jim Donchess during her tour of Mine Falls Park Hydroelectric Facility Friday morning.

NASHUA – U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., toured Mines Falls Park Hydroelectric Facility on Friday, two days after she introduced a related bill which she said would eventually lead to lower utility bills.

The legislation is the National Evaluation of Techniques for Making Energy Technologies more Effective and Resilient Act. It would create a national study on net metering while providing guidance to establish and expand net metering programs to support growing clean energy industries.

“Net metering plays a critical role in helping build a more innovative, affordable, and cleaner energy future for New Hampshire and for the country by helping lower the energy bills of hard-working Granite Staters and Americans and increasing energy independence,” Hassan said in a statement.

Through net metering, those who generate some or all of their own electricity can be compensated for the excess energy they provide to the electric grid and other customers. Nashua currently owns two mills: Mine Falls and Jackson Mills Dam.

Adam Urquhart Sen. Maggie Hassan speaking with David Sherman, Operations Manager at Essex Power Service, Inc. and Mayor Jim Donchess during her tour of Mine Falls Park Hydroelectric Facility Friday morning.

“Being a three-megawatt facility (Mine Falls), it’s currently too large of a facility to net meter under current state rules,” Nashua Waterways Manager Madeleine Mineau said. “There’s a Bill called SB446 that has gone through the state Senate, and will be making its way through the House, probably next week.”

Mineau said if that bill passes, it would allow a facility with up to five megawatts of capacity to participate in net metering.

“That would be the most sensible way for the city to use power generated here, to power municipal buildings and operations,” Mineau said. “We would probably do the municipal side first, but with 11,000 megawatt-hours we could almost do all of the municipal side, not including schools.”

The Mine Falls facility is a three-megawatt capacity facility, which is how much it can generate at one time. On average, it generates 11,000 megawatt-hours per year.

David Sherman, operations manager at Essex Power Services, said there are 85 hydropower sites in the state, and that an average of 10 percent of New England’s power supply is

Adam Urquhart Sen. Maggie Hassan speaks with David Sherman, Operations Manager at Essex Power Service, Inc. at the start of her tour of Mine Falls Park Hydroelectric Facility Friday morning.

hydroelectric.

“If we could get net metering, it would definitely help in terms of a better return for the city on our investment here at the dam, and I really appreciate Hassan’s interest in this,” Mayor Jim Donchess said.

He said if Nashua could get net metering, it would make solar panel projects for municipal buildings much more feasible.

“We got Jackson Mills back at end of the lease, at end of 2014 early 2015, and just acquired this (Mine Falls) last April,” Mineau said.

“A great advance for us in terms of providing sustainable energy and particularly, expanding the use of solar energy,” Donchess added of net metering.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.