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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Report: Greenhouse gas funds save $1.5m in NH energy

DURHAM – Money collected by the state’s greenhouse gas emission fund generated an “actual, verified” saving of $1.5 million in energy costs for businesses, communities and residents in its first year, according to a report issued by the University of New Hampshire’s Carbon Solutions New England.

The report claims the lifetime savings from the $17.7 million awarded so far from the fund are projected to be $60.6 million in energy costs based on current energy prices.

The grants use money collected from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a 10-state program that New Hampshire joined three years ago. Under what is known as a cap-and-trade system, the money is paid by companies, usually utilities such as PSNH, which bid for the right to emit carbon pollution while generating electricity.

Many in the state Legislature want New Hampshire to leave the program because they say it adds too much to energy costs.

The report covers the period from July 2009 through June 2010. It claims that for every dollar invested by GHGERF, there will be a return of $3.42 in energy savings over the lifetime of the projects.

“The GHGERF program has invested in a wide range of projects essential for enhancing energy efficiency and providing the foundation for the state to implement key recommendations of the New Hampshire Climate Action Plan,” says CSNE director Cameron Wake, a co-author of the report and research associate professor at the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space.

The GHGERF was created by state legislation in 2008 and derives its funding from New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI – a regional cap-and-trade program that specifically targets carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel electric power generation.

RGGI creates a market for carbon dioxide emissions, and New Hampshire emissions allowances are sold at quarterly auctions. Proceeds paid into the GHGERF are administered by the N.H. Public Utilities Commission.

In 2009, the PUC competitively awarded 30 grants for a total of $17.7 million to support programs and projects that directly and indirectly supported the reduction of fossil fuel-based energy. The grants went to an array of public, private and nonprofit entities and program types and served a wide range of energy consumers, many whom are not covered by traditional utility-operated energy-efficiency programs. Approximately 80 percent of the funds went to activities that directly reduce energy use.

Carbon Solutions New England is a public-private partnership based at UNH and works to promote collective action to achieve a clean, secure energy future while sustaining the region’s unique natural and cultural resources.

To view the full report, visit www.puc.nh.gov/Sustainable%20Energy/GHGERF.htm and scroll down to the links under “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Fund – Year 1 Evaluation (July 2009-June 2010).”