Energy Efficiency

New Hampshire regulators establish new energy efficiency resource standard

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission on Aug. 2 approved the establishment of an energy efficiency resource standard, or EERS, for that state. The standard, to go into effect in early 2018, will apply to sales of both electricity and natural gas in New Hampshire.

The EERS — a policy framework for achieving cost-effective energy savings — is the culmination of years of collaborative work by the PUC's staff and a broad array of interested stakeholders, the commission said in an Aug. 2 news release.

Energy efficiency programs will be implemented in accordance with this framework beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, the PUC said. These programs will be subject to commission approval, and the commission said it will require a demonstration that they are cost-effective.

Three-year planning periods

The EERS "has an overarching goal of achieving all cost-effective energy efficiency," the PUC said in the news release. The PUC said it hopes to achieve this goal gradually, by using three-year planning periods. During the first three-year period, the cumulative goal for electric savings to be achieved by the EERS will be 3.1 percent of delivered 2014 kWh sales, with interim annual savings goals of .8 percent, 1 percent, and 1.3 percent. The cumulative goal for gas savings will be 2.25 percent of delivered MMBtu 2014 sales, with interim annual savings goals of.7 percent, .75 percent, and .8 percent.

Funding for the EERS will come from increases to the system benefits charge and the local distribution adjustment charge, both current components of electric and gas bills, respectively. The PUC said it also has "directed stakeholders to continue efforts to identify other sources of funding for the EERS, including private capital, to augment ratepayer funding."

"Any short-term rate impacts will be outweighed by the benefits of increased energy efficiency for participating customers and, in the long term, lower energy supply costs for all customers," said Amanda O. Noonan, director of the PUC's Consumer Services and External Affairs Division.

"Low-income households in particular face more significant obstacles to investing in energy efficiency," Noonan said. "The increased funding provided by the EERS for those households will help ensure all customers have the opportunity to participate in energy efficiency."

Standard will help achieve state goals

The New Hampshire PUC noted that while it has long required utilities to help customers save money by consuming less electricity and natural gas, the EERS "will set specific goals for energy savings that utilities must meet." The new standard also will help the state achieve the objectives set out in its 10-year state energy strategy, the commission said.

Until now, the commission "has implemented energy efficiency primarily through the Core program, which has offered since 2002 a suite of efficiency solutions designed to meet the varied needs of electric and gas customers statewide through partnerships with the private sector and well-designed rebates and incentives," the PUC said in the news release. The Core programs will continue through 2017 and will have a statewide savings goal of.6 percent for electric savings and .66 percent for gas savings, both as a percent of 2014 delivered sales.

Starting in January 2018, PUC oversight of the development of the specific EERS programs "will ensure that the EERS programs funded by customers are the least-cost resource available to meet customers' energy demand," the commission said.

Utilities in the state will administer the EERS programs, but the PUC said it "will retain the authority to approve those programs and will take input from stakeholders," including from the New Hampshire Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Board, created by the state legislature in 2008. The board's statutory purpose is to promote and coordinate energy efficiency, demand response, and sustainable energy programs.