NH adopts Energy Efficiency Resource Standard

Friday, August 5, 2016

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission has approved a settlement agreement that establishes a statewide Energy Efficiency Resource Standard.  The Commission described the EERS as "a framework within which the Commission’s energy efficiency programs shall be implemented," effective January 1, 2018.

Historically, most of the Commission's energy efficiency work has been through New Hampshire's so-called Core programs, with savings goals set more based on how much funding is available than on overall savings potential.  But pressure has been mounting for change.  Studies have shown that "additional opportunities for cost-effective energy efficiency exist beyond those attained through the Core program."  In 2014, the Governor's Office of Energy Planning's 10-year State Energy Strategy called for an EERS "aimed at achieving all cost effective efficiency over a reasonable time frame."

Last year, the Commission opened a case to establish a policy that sets specific targets or goals for energy savings, which utility companies serving New Hampshire ratepayers must meet.  The Commission described the creation of an EERS as "an opportunity to set savings goals based on savings potential in addition to consideration of the funding level."  Following proposals by Commission staff, utilities, and advocates for sustainable energy and environmental goals, negotiations to resolve the case developed into an April 2016 settlement agreement.

On August 2, 2016, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission issued its Order No. 25,932, approving the EERS settlement agreement.  That order establishes a long-term goal of achieving all cost-effective energy efficiency, and a framework consisting of three-year planning periods and savings goals.  Initial EERS programs will be administered by electric and gas utilities. Specific programs will be subject to Commission approval, and must be shown to be cost effective.  The Commission also established a recovery mechanism to compensate the utilities for lost revenue related to the EERS programs.

For the first triennium of the EERS, the Commission adopted savings goals as a percentage of 2014 statewide delivered sales, intended to reach overall cumulative savings by 2020 of 3.1% of electric sales and 2.25% of gas sales, relative to the 2014 baseline year.  The existing Core program will also continue through next year; statewide savings goals for the "2017 Core-extension" will be 0.6% of 2014 statewide delivered sales for electric and 0.66% for gas.

The Commission noted that while all customers may face small short-term rate increases to recover the cost of an EERS, "customer bills will decrease when their energy consumption decreases as well as when the impact of consumption decreases are reflected in reduced grid and power procurement costs."

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