New Hampshire Energy Policy Study
Client: New Hampshire Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Board
The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (Commission) is an executive branch agency with quasi-judicial powers, and is statutorily required to “be the arbiter between the interests of the customer and the interests of the regulated utilities.” The Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy (EESE) Board was created by the NH Legislature in 2008, “to promote and coordinate energy efficiency, demand response, and sustainable energy programs in the state.” The EESE Board is administratively attached to the Commission.
Over the past 20 months, the EESE Board has devoted considerable time to discussion of existing energy programs within New Hampshire and how the goals and resources for these programs relate to aggressive targets for New Hampshire, including those adopted in the state’s March 2009 Climate Change Action Plan. The EESE Board recognizes that these targets require large-scale public and private sector investments in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies including renewable energy. Presentations to the EESE Board by outside entities with a regional perspective revealed that some other states are undertaking more comprehensive and ambitious efforts than NH has implemented to date. For instance, some states have set a goal of reducing total electricity consumption by 2% annually, or put in place policies requiring electric and natural gas distribution utilities to invest in all cost-effective energy efficiency measures. The EESE Board recognized the need for support to assess and develop new policies and approaches to meet the state’s energy goals.
These efforts led to passage by the NH Legislature earlier this year of SB 323, which charges the Commission to “contract for an independent study, through means of a nonadjudicative investigation utilizing a broad collaborative process, regarding legislative, regulatory, and market-based policy options to address the following issues:
- A comprehensive review and analysis of energy efficiency, conservation, demand response, and sustainable energy programs and incentives in the state, and recommendations for possible improvements to maximize their effectiveness and increase coordination of those programs and incentives.
- The appropriate role of regulated energy utilities, providers of energy and energy efficiency, and others in helping the state and consumers achieve the state’s energy efficiency potential for all fuels.
- The effectiveness and sustainability of all funds available to stimulate investment in energy efficiency and clean energy to advance the state’s energy goals.
- Policy changes that may be necessary in order to achieve the state’s energy efficiency and sustainable energy goals and to create the most cost-effective delivery systems to ensure optimum use of state funds, initiatives, and programs.”
The Commission was seeking a qualified consultant or team of consultants with the relevant expertise to conduct the review and analysis required, and to provide the referenced assessment and recommendations, in the form of both a written report and oral presentation of the report and findings.
VEIC (and our subcontractors, Jeffrey H. Taylor Associates, Inc. and Optimal Energy, Inc.) was selected from 13 responses to this competitive Request for Proposals. The VEIC Team was hired to review and assess more than $135 million of energy efficiency and sustainable energy programs and initiatives currently offered in New Hampshire, and to provide both policy and program-level recommendations for enhancements in the future.
The study included outreach to and engagement of a wide variety of stakeholders in New Hampshire including:
- Policy makers, legislators, and regulators;
- Electric and gas utility program managers and administrators;
- Contractors, installers, and other trade allies involved in the delivery of energy services;
- Bankers and Energy Service Company (ESCO) representatives; and
- Ratepayers and the general citizenry.
Personal interviews were completed with leaders of more than 75 agencies, organizations, and companies involved in energy policy, regulation, and service delivery, and more than 750 citizens responded to an online survey about energy issues. Insights and perspectives from the outreach informed the research and analysis done for the study, and the policy options and program design and implementation enhancements recommended by the study team.
The final report provides both over-arching policy level recommendations for consideration by the Legislature, Executive Branch, and the Public Utilities Commission and detailed program-level recommendations for enhancement and increased results in the future.
The policy-level recommendations in this final report, focused on the seven next steps (or actions) that would have a significant and lasting difference on energy efficiency and sustainable energy market development in New Hampshire, including:
- Refocus and clarify the state’s energy policy direction by adopting a single, comprehensive energy efficiency and sustainable energy policy statement and enacting the policy in legislation;
- Develop clearer regulatory guidance in support of the energy policy direction by adopting an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, increasing the System Benefits Charge, and supporting a fuel-neutral Renewable Portfolio Standard;
- Improve the regulatory process and modify utility performance incentives;
- Increase program coordination and further streamline administration and develop a trusted, single source of contact for all energy efficiency and sustainable energy programs and services;
- Use public policy, funding, and scaled program structures to attract and leverage private investment and to fund a statewide loan loss reserve fund for energy efficiency and sustainable energy investments by consumers;
- Create a new home for energy efficiency and sustainable energy support and oversight in State Government by designating a specific entity within state government responsible for ensuring implementation of state policies and goals; and
- Encourage State and Local Governments to lead by example by using the purchasing power of state government as the largest energy consumer in New Hampshire, and more.
The 350 page final report and a 15 page document summarizing Key Findings and Recommendations are available at no charge at puc.nh.gov.