Update on February 23, 2011: The New Hampshire House voted to repeal RGGI 246-104. The bill now goes to the Senate.
An energy-efficiency and renewable-energy program in 10 Northeast states that has shown to be a great economic model is under threat from a bill that is swiftly moving through the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
In New Hampshire, money from the sale of auction allowances is used to help businesses, municipalities and homeowners reduce energy consumption by investing in energy efficiency projects. Last week, the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee voted 13-5 (along party lines) on controversial legislation to repeal New Hampshire’s participation in the program. The full House is expected to vote on the repeal Wednesday.
Removing itself from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, would be a travesty for New Hampshire’s citizens, who benefit from more jobs, more savings in our pockets, and a more productive energy system because of the program.
In its first year, RGGI helped New Hampshire residents reduce their electricity use by 7,534,000 Kwh (equivalent to energy usage by 1,100 New Hampshire homes in one year), oil use by 54,000 gallons, and natural gas use by 50,000 therms.
The Majority-led repeal effort is, if nothing else, puzzling and ironic. RGGI is a market-based solution created by a Republican governor with broad bipartisan support and enthusiastic backing from both business and utilities.
One of the arguments in the repeal effort is that RGGI somehow hurts the economy. But the price for the average household is about 36 cents per month. Those funds, in turn, save money in the long run for citizens and businesses that would otherwise have to pony up to build larger generation sources.
New Hampshire exports more than $2.6 billion annually in order to import fossil fuels from other states and countries. By reducing energy demand through investments in energy efficiency, New Hampshire can begin keeping dollars in-state to benefit our local communities.
RGGI also makes New Hampshire more competitive and creates jobs for truckers, loggers, energy auditors, solar installers, and weatherization experts – occupations that cannot be sent overseas.
The Nature Conservancy got involved with RGGI as it was being planned over the past decade. We hope New Hampshire can remain part of a successful program that has found economically smart ways to help the way we do business while reducing the pollution we put into the air we breathe.
We recommend calling your local politicians to make sure the repeal of New Hampshire’s involvement in RGGI doesn’t happen.
Joel Harrington is director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire
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