Renewable Portfolio Standard
In 2007 New Hampshire passed the Renewable Energy Act, which established the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Under New Hampshire’s RPS, electricity providers must obtain a certain percentage of electricity from renewable energy sources each year, peaking at 25% in 2025. Eligible renewable sources include:
Compliance with the quotas set out by the RPS is measured by way of renewable energy certificates (RECs). RECs represent one megawatt hour (1,000 kWh) of energy generated by an eligible renewable source, and utilities may acquire them in two ways:
- By generating energy through a utility-owned renewable plant, such as a solar array or biomass power plant.
- By purchasing RECs through a market run by the New England Power Pool Generation Information System.
The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decides which renewable energy generation facilities can earn and sell RECs. The PUC also decides what rate utilities can charge to consumers to cover the costs of electricity from renewable and traditional energy sources.
If an electricity provider cannot or chooses not to buy a sufficient amount of RECs, the provider must pay alternative compliance payments (ACPs). Those ACPs go to the Renewable Energy Fund, which is spent on grants and rebates for individuals and businesses working on renewable energy projects. The fund is administered by the PUC.
In the last fiscal year for which data is available (ending June 30, 2018), New Hampshire electricity distributors and suppliers paid a total of $5,258,420 in ACPs.
The PUC has distributed grants and rebates to UNH, Monadnock Paper Mills, the Claremont Fire Department, and many more.
“NH should maintain the renewable portfolio standard.”
- The program is necessary to encourage the research and development of renewable energy sources, which in turn are necessary to provide cheap, reliable energy in the decades to come.
- The price of fossil fuels will likely continue to rise. By subsidizing renewable energy projects now, the people are therefore investing in less expensive energy down the road.
- Research and development of renewable energy also creates new green jobs, lowers pollution, and decreases the reliance on fossil fuels from foreign nations.
- Fossil fuel power plants are responsible for one-third of emissions that contribute to global warming, while renewable energy sources produce little to no carbon emissions.
- A 2012 Berkley Lab study which analyzed the costs of RECs and ACPs found that on average, RPS only increased the cost of a state’s electricity by roughly 1% on average from 2010 to 2012.
“NH should eliminate the renewable portfolio standard.”
- A study by the Institute for Energy Research which compared average energy prices in states with and without RPS found that states with RPS have 39% higher electricity costs.
- Renewable energy is simply more expensive than traditional energy, so RPS forces utilities and thereby consumers to pay for more expensive electricity.
- The government should not make renewable energy sources artificially competitive by forcing utilities to buy electricity from renewable sources, as this hurts the ability of economic competition to lower energy prices.
- The money from RPS is not always spent on renewable energy projects, but in the past has sometimes been diverted into the general fund.
- Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are not always a consistent source of power, which means that fossil fuel power plants must be available to step in and meet demand when the electricity from renewable sources flags. This means that even as renewables expand, traditional energy sources must be maintained.