Before Boosting Canada, Raise The Solar Cap in New Hampshire
By Chip Martin, RGB Solar Agitator
New Hampshire has always been one of the leaders of the United States since its founding in 1629. Even today, it plays a historic and critical role in helping the country choose its presidents.
But that reputation for leadership could take a hit if New Hampshire allows its burgeoning solar industry to die while simultaneously investing in large projects that export jobs and pump in foreign power from the north.
Let me back up. New Hampshire has an arbitrary cap on rooftop solar growth, which means a cap on job creation and locally-sourced power. It’s a cap on a policy called solar net metering and the state will hit it any day. That means job growth and clean energy leadership in the Granite State could hit a wall any day.
Two of the state’s four utilities — New Hampshire Electric Co-Op and Liberty Utilities — hit their caps earlier this year. Eversource, the company that controls 70% of the market, is about it hit its cap later this year.
While Eversource has done nothing to support a cap expansion – in fact they opposed it during the last legislative session – they are pushing for The Northern Pass, a foreign energy project in New Hampshire’s neighbor to the north, Canada.
Yep. Rather than focusing on a job-producing industry in New Hampshire, the state may build an enormous hydroelectric plant 192 miles from the Canadian border. Ratepayers – hard-working New Hampshire residents – would foot the bill for this project, which would stretch wires across stunning landscapes to bring foreign energy into the state while actively obstructing home-grown energy.
What might make a massive foreign transmission project more attractive to Eversource than allowing more local energy? Let’s start with the fact that New Hampshire ratepayers would foot the bill. Plus, it would help stop competition from rooftop solar.
Utilities across the country have opposed rooftop solar because they don’t like competition. With The Northern Pass, the opportunity to put the financial burden on ratepayers is icing on the cake if Eversource also gets to eliminate their competition – solar on people’s rooftops.
For a state that is known for leadership and on the cusp of its local clean energy industry taking off, New Hampshire should embrace local solar jobs, not charge ratepayers for foreign ones.