Blog : Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Renewable Energy Funds Face Challenges

By Ken | Jan 21, 2015 | in

Coming up before the New Hampshire House of Representatives is a bill known as HB 208-FN to repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) within the state. RGGI is the first of its kind in the United States, a market-based regulatory program designed to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector. The proceeds that come from RGGI's emission permit auctions are used to promote energy conservation and renewable energy.

HB 208-FN states, “Municipalities use the annual distributions to fund energy efficiency programs; in the absence of this revenue, municipalities will either need to discontinue these projects or find alternative sources of revenue with which to fund them.”

In other words, energy efficiency programs within the state will cease to exist or new ways to bring in money to continue the existing programs will have to be found.

The RGGI, a co-operative effort of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, was established in 2003 to combat global warming. New Hampshire joined the RGGI in 2008 under legislation signed by Gov. John Lynch. States currently participating in RGGI are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. In 2014, the RGGI set a new cap of 91 million tons. HB 208-FN states, “... the bill will effectively end the State’s participation in RGGI effective December 31, 2014.”

New Hampshire's exit would make it the second state to leave RGGI. New Jersey was a member of RGGI until 2011, when Gov. Chris Christie removed the state's participation.

A public hearing on HB 208-FN will be held on Thursday, January 22, at the Statehouse in Concord at 10 a.m. in Representatives Hall. The public is encouraged to attend and speak out against the repeal of the RGGI. The public is also encouraged to contact their representative and Bob Introne, chair of the House Energy Committee.

In addition, the Renewable Energy Fund (REF), which “distributes funds through rebate programs or competitive grant solicitations,” is currently facing two potentially disastrous attacks. The first is that the REF could be raided to fill state budget shortfalls within the state's general fund. During the previous budget cycle the REF lost $16.1 million. Secondly, Sen. Jeb Bradley's sponsored bill request, 2015-S-0702-R, “relative to the electric renewable portfolio standard” could potentially harm the ability for NH to invest in local renewable energy.

For more information, or to state your concerns, contact Gov. Maggie Hassan, your local Representative, your local Senator and Sen. Jeb Bradley.