• ECHO Action Editor

Local Energy Solutions Conference, 11/19/16

Concord, NH - Kate Epsen of NHSEA welcomed the crowd and introduced the idea of the “pitches.” Four people were invited to pitch an idea and ask members of the audience to help them develop it. They were: Bring more energy education to science education in our schools. The new Next Generation Science Standards includes energy in the curriculum. How can we help foster/develop energy education in our community schools? You can read more about it here,

Lyme Energy Committee wanted help coming up with planning/zoning rules for ground mounted community scale solar projects. In Lyme, 10% of the homes have solar PV. The energy committee was invited to help write regulations for ground mounting.

Dennis Labbe from NH Legal Assistance wanted help figuring out how to bring the benefits of clean energy to low income families. He started with a proposal for community solar in manufactured housing parks.

Clay Mitchell from UNH Wanted to talk about how we keep young people in NH. He brought several students with him.

I picked the NH Legal Assistance project because I am part of a group organized by Toxics Action to raise awareness aboutthe issue of climate/social justice concerns with RGGI. The GOP members of the NH House are always asking whether programs like RGGI, and the REF are a greater benefit than simply returning those funds directly to ratepayers.

In New Hampshire, the qualification for fuel assistance is 200% of the poverty level. There are 100,000 households who would be eligible under that criterion. Most of those 100,000 homes are in need of weatherization. Weatherization generally decreases fuel consumption by 15 to 30%.

This year, NH will receive $25 Million in LiHeap funding which, based on 2014 participation, will go to about 36,000 households. In 2016, $1.4 Million was earmarked for Weatherization Assistance Programs. The maximum benefit is $1125/household with a minimum of $75.

Low Income assistance from RGGI serves about 1000 households and provides weatherization for about 200 low income homes per year. (At that rate it would take 500 years to address 100,000 homes that may need weatherization).

There were a lot of options discussed. They ranged from increasing RGGI funding and changing how LiHEAP funds are spent to charitable donation of “extra” solar PV panels. Many issues came up related to how group net metering works in New Hampshire.

FIRST SESSION Energy Efficiency/Policy

Presentation by Kate Peters of EVERSOURCE on the NHSAVES program focused on how NHSAVES is funded (SBCs, GLDACs, RGGI and Forward Capacity Market).

Mark Toussaint of Eversource talked about Business and Municipal projects. They have a $2 Million budget for municipal projects.

Thomas Seekins of Siemens Energy & Environmental Services talked about the role of Energy Services Performance Contracts. He described the benefits of using a performance contract to address weatherization challenges.

KEYNOTE Speakers Holmes Hummel and Consumer Advocate Don M. Kreis

Good presentations about the progress that has been made and how ISO-NE is counting on energy efficiency to continue. Holmes Hummel mentioned the Green Ribbon Schools funding and noted that NH doesn’t seem to be participating in this program.

OCA Kreis talked about co-ops, the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS)

Session II Post Election Update

Charles Niebling and Jim O’Brien basically told us that we can judge how friendly the new administration will be to Clean Energy by what appointments are made to the DES, OEP and PUC by Governor elect Sununu. They were cautiously optimistic and talked about the importance of advocacy. Many State Legislators attended this and the following session. They want legislation requests (especially those related to studies) to come in soon as they have an early December deadline. I was disappointed to learn that Commissioner Scott’s term on the PUC expires in June. He has recently begun to talk about our high transmission and distribution charges versus supply charges on electric bills…basically dispelling the argument for more gas pipelines.

Session III Community Energy & Net Metering: Solar & Beyond

There was a lot of discussion of true virtual net metering versus group net metering and the limitations it presents. It’s hard to pull off true Community solar due to both federal issues and State LLC investment regulations.

Overall, it was a good conference and was well-attended.

- Pat Martin

You can follow Pat Martin's blog posts at Dancing Fool.