Newsletter, Issue No. 2                               September, 2013
In This Issue:
Message from the Director


Jack K. Ruderman, Director Sustainable Energy Division
Welcome to the 2nd edition of the Sustainable Energy Division newsletter!
There are many positive developments to report on since our debut issue in May. We have updates on the status of funding for the Renewable Energy Fund (the situation is promising); the continued success of two energy efficiency programs funded through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; new, innovative renewable energy projects at UNH and Colby-Sawyer College; the 2013 competitive grant program for renewable energy projects, which has drawn record funding requests this year; a key change to the PUC's rebate program for residential photovoltaic (PV) and wind systems, allowing larger systems (up to 10 kilowatts) to qualify for rebates; and other news of interest. If there is one theme underlying these news items, it is that the momentum for sustainable energy in New Hampshire continues to grow, as does the impact of the Sustainable Energy Division's rebate and grant programs, now in their fifth year of operation.
Thank you for your continued interest in a clean energy future for New Hampshire.


Please Join Us for the...

Metering and Measurement of Thermal Energy Stakeholders Meeting
September 24, 2013, 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
PUC Hearing Room A, 21 S. Fruit Street, Concord, NH
In The News...

Renewable Energy Provides 14% of US Electrical Generation During First Half of 2013


Renewables to Surpass Natural Gas by 2016 in Global Power Mix


U.S. Reaches Milestone of 10 Gigawatt Solar PV Capacity


Heating with Wood Biomass Making Inroads Across Northeast, Gaining Policy Support



For more information on SED rebate programs contact ...



wind turbine  
Renewable Energy Fund Update
Funds Robust After Roller Coaster Year

State fiscal year 2013, which ended June 30, waNH State House 3s a bit of a roller coaster ride for the Renewable Energy Fund (REF). In July of 2012, at the beginning of the fiscal year, there was a surge of revenue into the REF - upward of $19 million, as compared to $2.6 million the prior year. This sudden infusion of funds presented the Sustainable Energy Division with both new opportunities and fresh challenges.


First, it required an examination of the state's clean energy law, known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires electric utilities and competitive electric suppliers to either purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) representing electrical generation from clean, renewable sources.


There are four classes of RECs, each for a certain type of renewable energy, such as new sources (Class I) or pre-existing biomass and landfill gas facilities (Class III). When there is a shortfall of RECs for a particular class, energy providers make Alternative Compliance Payments (ACPs). ACPs are the sole source of revenue for the REF.


Legislators, PUC commissioners and staff, and other stakeholders wanted to know what accounted for the sharp increase in ACP revenues: was there an imbalance in the market for RECs, and, if so, were the REC requirements in the RPS law not functioning as intended? Specifically, revenues from Class III ACPs were in excess of $15 million, while the prior year they had accounted for just $1.54 million in revenue. Had there been a shift in the Class III REC market resulting in requirements that were too high?


Secondly, the new funds required the Sustainable Energy Division to develop a plan for spending roughly seven times more than it had the prior year, with very little time to ramp up existing programs or create new ones.  At the same time, legislators were facing a budget shortfall and desperately searching for new sources of revenue. As a result, the funds were essentially frozen pending resolution of the state's budget shortfall.


In January, the Public Utilities Commission (Commission) opened a docket, DE 13-021, requesting public comment on whether the Class III REC requirements should be adjusted. In April, the Commission issued an order sharply reducing the Class III requirement for two years. (The state legislature essentially ratified this action in two RPS related bills that were enacted in July.) As a direct result, annual ACP revenues from Class III for fiscal year 2014 declined to $4.6 million, clear evidence that the new Class III REC requirements worked as intended.


As to the $19 million in ACP revenue, in June the state legislature passed a budget bill requiring that $16.1 in REF funds be transferred to the state General Fund to help balance the state's budget. In addition, $1,280,000 was transferred to the North Country's Tri County Community Action Agency (TCAA) to shore up fuel assistance and weatherization programs for low-income households.


While the loss of these funds was certainly disappointing, there is good news: In July, a new round of ACP revenues to the REF totaled $9.3 million. Moving forward, in fiscal year 2014 these funds will allow the Sustainable Energy Division to fully fund its existing rebate programs, to increase funding for its competitive grant program, and possibly to offer a new rebate program.


In other words, funding for the REF is robust, we will continue to incentivize more and more renewable energy installations in New Hampshire, and the shift to clean energy sources will continue, bringing many economic and environmental benefits to the state.


Fiscal year 2014 promises to be a good one. Stay tuned!

2013 Competitive Grant Program Draws Record Funding Requests
35 Proposals Request Over $21 Million

The Commission's third annual Request for Proposals (RFP) for commercial-scale renewable energy projects was issued in May. The competitive grant program uses REF funds to spur new thermal and electrical renewable projects across the state. The program is fuel neutral, meaning that all sources of renewable energy as defined by the state legislature are eligible for funding.
grant bucks  

Recognizing that this program has been significantly over-subscribed in its first two years, the funding pool for the current RFP was increased this year from $1 million to $1.8 million (it also helped that more funds were available this year). The RFP sought projects that would increase the supply of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), and thereby lower compliance costs with the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard law.


The response to this year's RFP was unprecedented. The Commission received thirty-five proposals requesting a total of more than $21 million for projects with a total price tag of $184 million.   Funding requests covered a wide range of technologies from biomass heating systems to wind farms to hydroelectric facilities, combined heat and power systems, and large-scale PV arrays.


An interagency grant review committee is currently reviewing this year's proposals, interviewing selected applicants, and compiling funding recommendations which will be passed on the PUC's commissioners. The commissioners will conduct an independent review and then issue grant awards, subject to the approval of Governor Hassan and the Executive Council. 

The UNH Solar Air Grant Project 


UNH solar air
The UNH Kingsbury Hall solar hot air system.
One of the success stories of the Commission's competitive grant program is the UNH Solar Air Project. In 2012, the Commission awarded UNH a $60,000 grant to install a solar hot air system on the roof of Kingsbury Hall on the Durham campus. The system is now up and running and was recently profiled in both the Union Leader and the Nashua Telegraph. Click here to read the Union Leader story and here for the Telegraph story.  

Colby-Sawyer Installs Large Photovoltaic Array 

colby sawyer pic
Colby Sawyer College's 127 kW PV array.
Colby-Sawyer College has partnered with Exeter-based Revision Energy to build one of the largest solar arrays in the state, with the support of a $100,000 grant from the PUC. Installed on several campus building rooftops, the PV array has a combined electrical capacity of 127 kilowatts. Using an innovative financing arrangement, the college was able to install the PV array with no upfront costs. The project, a model for other universities and non-profit institutions, was profiled in the Nashua Telegraph in January. Click here to read the full story as posted on the school's website.

Legislature Raises Size Limit for Residential PV and Wind Systems  

Cap Raised to 10 kW

Since its inception in July 2009, the Commission's residential renewable energy rebate program has made rebates available for photovoltaic (PV) and wind systems with a nameplate capacity of less than 5 kilowatts (kW); larger systems were excluded. The cap on system size was mandated by HB 1628, the bill directing the Commission to establish this program.


Over the years a significant number of homeowners and solar installers expressed dissatisfaction with the 5 kW cap, noting that larger systems were becoming more commonplace as prices for PV systems plummeted. In some cases homeowners would install systems sized just below the cap, apply for and receive a rebate from the Commission, and then expand their PV systems to a larger capacity - a perfectly legitimate maneuver, but not an efficient way to go.


On July 29, a new law (HB542) went into effect, raising the cap to 10 kW per system. Systems of 10 kW or less are now eligible for the residential rebate, although the rebate remains the same: $.75 per watt of panel rated power up to $3,750, or 50% of the total facility cost, whichever is less.

Bob's PV
A 9.275 kW solar array on a Concord residence.



Program Manager Jon Osgood reports that since the new law went into effect, most new rebate applications have been for systems larger than 5 kW. It seems that larger residential systems are the new normal. As a result, more homeowners will be able to more fully meet their electrical needs with renewable power, and at times generate surplus energy which is returned to the electrical grid - and for which homeowners receive a credit on their electric bills. At times of peak system demand, these systems shore up the regional power grid, and reduce the need for expensive, dirty "peaking" power plants to be brought on line. In the long term, these and other local renewable energy facilities help reduce the need for expensive new power plants and transmission infrastructure upgrades and expansions.


RGGI-funded energy efficiency programs continue to deliver strong results

Retail Merchants Association and TRC Pay for Performance Programs Reach New Milestones

The Commission's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Fund (GHGERF) was phased out by the state legislature in 2012 amidst an effort to discontinue New Hampshire's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). (This effort ultimately failed and today NH continues to participate in RGGI). Over the prior 2 years, the Commission had awarded more than $30 million in RGGI funds for a wide array of projects and programs to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.   A handful of these programs continue to operate today, using dollars that were awarded before the GHGERF was terminated.


A 2013 study by UNH's Carbon Solutions New England found that the RGGI-funded grant programs were yielding strong results:


As of June 2012, cumulative energy savings due to projects that received GHGERF funds ($21.8 million spent) are expected to be $107.8 million through 2030 based on current energy prices. For every dollar spent as of June 2012, the expected return is $4.95 in energy savings.


Two of the RGGI-funded programs delivering services to the commercial and industrial sectors recently achieved impressive milestones.

Retail Merchants Association - Giving Power Back

RMASince 2009 the Retail Merchants Association of NH (RMANH) has operated the Giving Power Back program for small and medium sized businesses.  This program offers participating retailers and other commercial businesses guidance, technical support, financial assistance for audits and rebate funds for energy makeovers.  So far 193 businesses have enrolled in the program, 177 businesses have had energy audits, and 89 businesses have begun or completed energy retrofits.  Recently, the program's rebate awards reached the $1 million mark and these businesses are expecting to see annual energy savings of over $695,000 with the changes they made to their facilities.

TRC - Pay for Performance

P4P logo 
TRC Energy Services manages the NH Pay for Performance Program 
(P4P). P4P comprehensively addresses the energy efficiency needs of the commercial, industrial, and municipal government sectors by working with participants, such as developers, building owners and their representatives, to improve energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings. The Program is implemented through a network of qualified Program Partners. Partners are selected based on their demonstrated experience to develop comprehensive energy efficiency work scopes in commercial and industrial facilities, oversee the installation of the proposed scope, and verify that the installation will achieve the estimated energy performance.


To date, 45 New Hampshire buildings have participated in the NH P4P program. A key goal for the program was to develop energy retrofit projects totaling $5 million in value. P4P has exceeded that goal by more than 100%, with construction projects now at the $11.5 million mark. Energy savings have averaged 26%. Read about P4P's success stories, including Gregg Hall at UNH, Hitchiner Manufacturing in Littleton, and Oyster River High School, here.


Both the Giving Power Back and P4P programs were recently granted extensions by the Commission and will operate through June, 2014, using previously awarded funds.


New Energy Blog Tackles NH Energy Issues 

Professor Mike Mooiman, Franklin Pierce University

. Written by Franklin Pierce University Professor Mike Mooiman, the blog looks at various energy issues in NH ranging from the future of renewable energy in NH to home heating costs to the challenges facing NH's wood fired power plants. The blog installments are well-researched, clearly written, informative and thought-provoking. Professor Mooiman is Academic Director for FPU's MBA in Energy and Sustainability Studies Program. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Jordan Institute.  Click here to join the Energy in New Hampshire mailing list.



There's a new energy blog on the scene: Energy In New Hampshire

USDA Announces Renewable Energy Grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on August 15 announced more than $21 million in funding for 631 projects across the nation that will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations, and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Farmers, ranchers, business owners, and agriculture producers in 42 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico will receive funding. Grants and loans are made through the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).


New Hampshire received funding for three projects, all photovoltaic (PV) installations. A.B. Logging of Lancaster received a grant of $20,525. Northern Design Precast, Inc. of Loudon received a grant of $19,144. And Barrington Solar, LLC of Barrington received a grant of $118,332 and a loan of $182,000.


For information about REAP grants/loans, please contact Cheryl Ducharme of USDA at 802-828-6083.