On the sky blue morning of August 26, Governor Sununu signed HB 315, raising the net metering cap from 1 megawatt to 5 megawatts for grids owned by “political subdivisions”, mostly municipalities. It deserves a “hurray!” in the world of progress.
In New Hampshire, net metering ensures solar customers get their money’s worth. When a solar panel generates more energy than it needs, that energy is not wasted when implementing net metering. It is fed back into the grid, so that other inhabitants of the region can supply their homes with clean energy. In turn, solar customers are paid for the energy they supply to the utility company.
Many players are well positioned to see positive results from this expansion in net metering. For example, the City of Derry aims to find cost effective solutions for reduced energy consumption and sustainable energy development on properties controlled by the city. The city is developing a comprehensive plan to meet the ‘Net Zero’ compliance goal by 2025. The new expansion of net metering will allow them to install more solar power to meet that goal. Under the previous 1 megawatt cap, municipalities sometimes had to split their larger projects into smaller ones, even if it cost more.
“This new law will begin to truly unlock the benefits of solar power for communities,” said Sam Evans-Brown, executive director of Clean Energy New Hampshire. “The larger a solar panel, the better the profitability, and today these multi-acre solar farms are among the cheapest forms of energy you can build. And as cities learn to build these networks, they will start to save money, spread the good word to their neighboring communities, and we will start to see a virtuous cycle that will move the economy forward. clean energy.
One of the results of this “virtuous circle” is job creation in New Hampshire. The renewable energy sector is already creating a steady influx of new jobs every year, but it will certainly be a nice and much needed local boost.
The US Department of Energy recently reported that, compared to the fossil fuel industry, the renewable energy sector in New Hampshire employs nearly twice as many people. And, during the pandemic, solar specifically saw fewer job losses than fossil fuels.
Granite State Solar’s solar advisor Eric Kilens stands as an example of the success of renewable energy in providing quality and resilient jobs in our state. “It was my first ‘real’ job after graduating from the University of New Hampshire and it gave me the opportunity to own and eventually start my own family here in the great state of Granite.” As Eric illustrates, more investment in renewable energy will help retain talented New Hampshire workers who will continue to support our economy here.
But, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, New Hampshire only ranks 40th in the country for solar power, so switching to HB 315 is most definitely a step in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do. , especially if we compare ourselves to Massachusetts which ranks 8th in the country for solar power.
“We need more pro-solar policies to be enacted so that we can harness the real potential impact the solar industry can have on the local economy and job creation here in New Hampshire,” said Kilens.
This expansion is a strong and promising initiative, but Granite Staters should not be so easily satisfied. There is always a limit to how much energy cities can measure. Additionally, the previous 1 megawatt cap is still firmly in place for businesses and residents.
The passage of HB 315 shows that New Hampshire is heading in the right direction with renewables. It is important that more bills like HB 315 are implemented, as the solar industry creates opportunities for well-paying local jobs that globally help fuel the local economy.
(Jane Stromberg is Outreach and Policy Coordinator at Granite State Solar.)
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