|Avalanche Falls in the Flume Gorge, New Hampshire.|
Since 2007, New Hampshire has required most electricity providers to source 23.8% of their electricity from renewable resources by 2025. The state legislature recognized four classes of renewable resources, and prescribed gradual increases in each class's share of the total electricity served in the state. Class I resources cover most new renewable electricity generating facilities installed after January 1, 2006. Class II covers solar-generated electricity from facilities that began operation in 2006 or later. Class III covers existing biomass systems up to 25 megawatts, and methane gas, predating 2006. Class IV covers power produced by existing small hydroelectric facilities up to 5 MW that meet environmental protection standards.
Some of these electricity generating technologies, such as the combustion of biomass to power steam turbines, also produce significant amounts of heat. Other technologies like solar hot water, wood pellet boilers, or geothermal heat pumps may not generate electricity, but can displace the use of fossil fuels that would otherwise be used for heating. This useful thermal energy has not previously been covered by New Hampshire's renewable portfolio standard. This means that people and businesses have not been able to create renewable energy certificates (RECs) by putting this thermal energy to productive use. As a result, the efficient use of this thermal energy has not been incentivized as has the production of electricity from renewable resources.
Enacted by the New Hampshire Senate and House earlier this month, and signed by the governor yesterday, Senate Bill 218 (text available via the New Hampshire General Court website) expands New Hampshire's renewable portfolio standard to cover heat or thermal energy. As of January 1, 2013, the useful heat produced by renewable power technologies can qualify to produce RECs which can be used to satisfy the renewables requirement. While Class I thermal energy RECs have a lower price cap than Class I electrical RECs - $25 instead of $55 - the ability to produce and sell thermal RECs will enhance business opportunities to use steam or heat produced from renewable resources.