N.H. electricity rates up; national average down
NASHUA – As New Hampshire elected officials debate the benefits of net metering and subsidies for solar panels, U.S. Department of Energy data show electricity rates for Granite Staters are increasing at the same time the national average is falling.
The average residential cost for a kilowatt hour of electricity in New Hampshire in March was 20.16 cents, while the U.S. average for this same unit of power in March was only 12.83 cents.
The energy department indicates the New Hampshire price per residential kilowatt hour in March 2018 was 19.88 cents, with the national average at the time being 12.99 cents per kilowatt hour. Therefore, as New Hampshire’s rates increased, the national average slightly dropped.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire’s largest provider of electricity, reported earnings of $308.7 million for the first three months of 2019. This reflects a profit increase when compared to the $269.5 million the company earned during the 2018 first quarter.
On Monday, Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed House Bill 365, which addresses the concept of net metering and subsidies for solar panels. He did so while proclaiming his belief that the legislation would “cost ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars in higher electric bills.”
“We should not allow our good intentions to mask a bad policy. We should not force our ratepayers to massively subsidize those who can afford to construct 40-acre solar farms,” Sununu said while issuing his veto.
Jim Roche is president of the Business and Industry Association, which serves as New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce.
“We applaud the governor for vetoing HB 365. To be clear, BIA does not oppose raising the cap on net metering. We support an ‘all of the above’ approach to help meet the energy needs of businesses across the state. However, we oppose HB 365 because the legislation would result in cost-shifting to the business community since the tariff (or credit) given to net metering customers would be above the utility’s avoided cost. That’s unfair to all non-net metering ratepayers,” Roche said.
Proponents of the bill expressed significant disagreement and disappointment, adding they hope the Legislature will again override Sununu’s veto. This, of course, happened just last week when legislators acted to abolish New Hampshire’s death penalty.
“It’s a blow to the growth of the renewable energy industry, for sure,” Clean Energy NH Chairman Ted Vansant said. “But what’s truly sad is the effect this action has on the countless businesses, school districts, and municipalities that were poised to complete projects. In an era of hyper-partisanship, HB 365 was a true example of legislators working together to advance legislation that matters to their constituents. Not only did Gov. Sununu ignore this cooperation, he blatantly denied the expressed needs of New Hampshire.”
“Clean Energy NH, our more than 500 members, and many businesses and municipalities will now look to their legislators to side with New Hampshire ratepayers and taxpayers by overriding this veto,” organization Executive Director Madeleine Mineau added.
House Majority Leader Doug Ley, D-Jaffrey, stated: “This bill would not only help New Hampshire transition to a more energy efficient future but also would have saved local municipalities money in the process. The governor has once again demonstrated his allegiance to large campaign contributors, continuing to hold back progress in the Granite State.”
Sununu disagreed with this premise.
“Any perceived tax savings from a net-metered solar project are cost-shifted to ratepayers across New Hampshire,” he added.