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Newsletter, Issue No. 3                               February 2014
In This Issue:
  
  
  
The Great Bridge Conway Limited Partnership's Conway Pines affordable housing complex 42.3 kW PV array installed in 2012.
    
  
    
  
Can New Hampshire Meet Its Solar Energy Goals?
Message from the Director  
Jack
Jack K. Ruderman, Director, Sustainable Energy Division
 

New Hampshire's Renewable Portfolio Standard law requires the state's electric utilities and competitive energy suppliers to obtain 25% of their load from renewable energy sources by 2025. There are requirements for four classes of renewable energy sources (plus a subclass for thermal renewable energy), one of which is solar, or photovoltaic (PV) power. The goal for PV seems modest enough: after a gradual ramp up over the past several years, electricity providers must now obtain .3% of their load from PV.  (The PV requirement stays at this level through 2025).

   

Yet in 2007, when the law was passed, there were precious few PV arrays in New Hampshire, let alone New England.  Moreover, .3% of load translates to roughly 25 megawatts (MW) of installed PV capacity. This target will be hard to meet in the short term, in large part because New Hampshire offers only modest incentives for PV. Developers of large-scale PV systems focus on other states, like Massachusetts and Vermont, where the incentives are far more generous.

 

But in the past 4 years, our rebate programs have provided incentives for close to 8 MW of PV that have been installed in New Hampshire (both residential and commercial systems). And, with the recent grant award of $1.2 million toward a nearly 1 MW PV array in Peterborough, New Hampshire has taken a major step toward utility-scale PV installations.

 

The project in Peterborough will likely inspire other towns and cities to build similar arrays, perhaps even bigger ones, and this will help the state meet its PV goals, as will our new group net metering law. Read all about the Peterborough project and nine other recent renewable energy grants in our feature article, below.

 

Thank you, as always, for supporting a sustainable energy future for New Hampshire.
In The News...
 

Solar energy project nearly finished in Durham

  

More Records for Quarterly US Solar Installations 

 

Wind energy becoming cheaper than natural gas 

 

Massachusetts sees 11.8 percent clean energy job growth 

 

LED bulbs are expensive; is the electricity savings worth it?

 

Home electricity use is falling to 2001 levels

  

Study: Tidal turbines could power half of Scotland

 

Utilities Feeling Rooftop Solar Heat Start Fighting Back

 

Minn. Judge: Solar Beats Natural Gas for Utility Procurement

 

Wind Energy Helps Ward Off Power Outages

 

Buffet's massive order shows wind energy becoming cheaper 

 

Solar panels seen as boost to homes' resale value

 

Electric Co-op Installing Electric Chargers in Underserved Towns

 

Honda in study to use cars to supply the electric grid

  
  
  

For more information on SED rebate programs contact ...

  

  

Renewable Energy Advances in New Hampshire
$3.8 Million Awarded in Grants  

The results are in from the Commission's 2013 competitive grant solicitation: Ten commercial-scale renewable energy projects will move forward with grants ranging from $100,000 for biomass boilers at schools in Walpole and Charlestown to $1.2 million for the installation of a 950 kilowatt solar power array in Peterborough - by far the largest such array in New Hampshire. Among other grants, a $1 million award will help fund an 8.6 MW wind farm in Berlin, while a $300,000 grant will fund a biomass district heating system at the Holderness School.     

 

The grants were awarded as the result of a competitive process that drew 35 proposals requesting a total of $21 million for projects with a combined price tag of $180 million. The $3.8 million in grants will be matched with additional investments by grantees totaling $25.7 million.

 

The grants will support a diverse mix of renewable energy technologies, from biomass to small hydro to wind and solar. Each grant project will increase the production of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which will be used to help the state meet its renewable energy goals at lower costs to electricity suppliers
providers. In addition, these grants will reduce energy costs, diminish greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs in the state's burgeoning clean energy sector.

 

The ten grants all required the approval of Governor Hassan and the Executive Council. The grants are summarized in the table below.


Applicant

Town


Technology

(Capacity)


Proposed Grant ($)

Total Project Costs
Fiske Hydro Inc. 
Hinsdale
Hydro
 (375 kW)
$225,000
$362,000

Northwood Renewables LLC

(Golden Pond Hydro)  

  
  
Ashland
  
Hydro
(130 kW) 
  
  
$125,000

 

 

$227,225

Xylogen LLC

(High Mowing School District Heating)


Wilton

Biomass Thermal

(2.2 MMBtu/hr)


$200,000

$525,000

Historic Harrisville, Inc.

(Cheshire Mills Boilers)


 Harrisville
Biomass Thermal (1.05 MMBtu/hr)
  
 $150,000 
  
  $231,185
Holderness School Biomass District Heating
  
Holderness
Biomass Thermal (4.02 MMBtu/hr)

$300,000

 

$3,950,000

Fall Mountain Regional School District (Biomass Boilers at 2 Schools)


Charlestown

&

Walpole


Biomass Thermal (600 kW)

$100,000

$492,000
Jericho Power LLC
Berlin
Wind
 (8.55 MW)
$1,000,000 
$20,048,000

Pierce Solar LLC
(Franklin Pierce University)

Rindge

Solar
(192 kW)

$175,000

$625,000


Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative

(Plymouth Village Water & Sewer District)

 

 

Plymouth

 

 

Solar

(119.4 kW)

  

$317,980

  

 $427,980

Water Street Solar 1, LLC

(Peterborough Wastewater Treatment Facility)

 

Peterborough  


Solar

(947 kW)


$1,220,000

 

$2,626,495


TOTAL
  
 
$3,812,980

$29,514,885

 

For more detailed descriptions of these projects, click here.

Commission Launches New Wood Pellet Rebate Program
$629,000 Allocated to Commercial & Industrial Projects 

Building on the success of its first-in-the-nation residential wood pellet boiler/furnace rebate program, the Commission has launched a new commercial and industrial rebate program for non-residential wood pellet heating systems. The program provides a rebate of 30% of the costs of the heating system and installation, up to a maximum of $50,000. Additionally, a rebate of 30% up to $5,000 is available for thermal storage tanks and related components.

 

The program is open to businesses, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, governmental or municipal entities, or multi-family residences of 4 units or greater, that do not qualify for a rebate under the residential wood pellet rebate program.

 

The budget for this program for state fiscal year 2014 (ending June 30, 2014) is $629,000. Funds are available on a first come, first served basis. Program Manager Barbara Bernstein reports that the program is off to a strong start - since the program
opened on December 18, 2013, 19 rebate application have been submitted, and Barbara has fielded a steady stream of phone calls from individuals seeking information about the program. Barbara recently stated, "This program provides an excellent opportunity for commercial, industrial, non-profit and municipal entities to install wood pellet boilers. The Sustainable Energy Division recognizes that many organizations have a lengthy procurement process that includes bids and approvals. We will certainly work with organizations through this process.  Please consider submitting an application to reserve funding."

 

For more information, including rebate application forms, click here.

NH Awarded USDA Funds for Biomass Initiative 

New Hampshire is one of five states to receive grant funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stimulate development of wood energy projects. New Hampshire was awarded $250,000 last September. The New Hampshire Wood Energy Support Team (NHWEST), a diverse group of biomass stakeholders facilitated by Rick DeMark of the North Country Resource Conservation and Development Council, put together the winning grant proposal.

  

This initiative is intended to help expand institutional and community scale wood biomass thermal energy in NH by providing a systematic approach to information and education, targeting interested groups and individuals, engaging communities, and facilitating the exploration and establishment of wood energy projects. The initiative will provide technical expertise (engineering) necessary for facility owners and 

Three Froling pellet boilers heat the Mascoma Valley Regional High School, Enfield.

operators to make proper technology decisions. The group will reach out to a wide number of potential users of wood biomass energy, including but not limited to schools, builders, engineers, architects, financial service providers, local energy committees, health care facilities, building owners, plumbers, and residential developers/managers, with information, case studies, and on-the-road visits to facilities. The project will provide feasibility assistance to up to 45 potential facility owners, resulting in at least five installations.

 

Later this winter or early spring, an application process for obtaining the technical services of the NHWEST group will be announced.

 

PUC Issues Interim Rules for Group Net Metering

VIrtual Net Metering Available in NH 
 
 

With the enactment last summer of Senate Bill 98, New Hampshire expanded its net metering law to include group net metering, also known as virtual net metering. The law (RSA 362-A:9, XIV) permits net metered renewable energy facilities, known as hosts, to share the proceeds from surplus electricity generation with other electric utility account holders, known as group members.

 

SB 98 charged the PUC with developing administrative rules to govern the group net metering law. Following a process that involved stakeholder input, the PUC developed interim rules for group net metering. These rules were approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) and adopted by the PUC on January 2, 2014 and are now in effect. Final (or permanent) rules are currently being drafted and should be completed within the next few months.

 

What exactly is group net metering? To answer that question we must first define traditional net metering. Net metering allows the owners of electrical renewable energy systems such as photovoltaic arrays, to receive a credit on their electric utility bills when they produce more electricity than they use, thereby exporting power to the electric grid.

 

Under the net metering law, electric utilities track the surplus power from residential or commercial renewable energy systems on a monthly basis. Once a year, if the net metered facility has accrued a balance of more than 600 kilowatt hours, the owner of the facility can elect to either receive a credit on their bill or a cash payment from the distribution utility for the cumulative value of the surplus electricity. However, if a customer has more than one meter, he/she cannot use the credit generated by one meter to offset the charges of another meter located either on site or at another site.  

 

Group net metering, by contrast, allows the owner, or host, of a renewable energy system or a heat led combined heat and power system to receive a monthly cash payment for the host's surplus electricity from his/her electric distribution utility, and then to use the proceeds to either a) offset the costs of one or more of the customer's other meters, or b) to share a portion of the proceeds with a group of other customers. One of the aims of group net metering is to allow group members to control their energy costs without having to be connected to the renewable energy system. Presumably the group members would invest in the host's renewable energy facility.  The total kilowatt hour (kWh) output of the host facility should not be greater than the total kWh usage of the group.

 

In order to group net meter, the host must execute a written agreement with the group members. A registration form must be filed with, and approved by, the PUC. The host and the group members must all be default service customers of the same distribution utility, meaning they may not get energy from a competitive electric supplier.

 

Group net metering promises to be a powerful tool for expanding the use of renewable energy facilities in New Hampshire. For application forms and additional information about group net metering, click here
  

Residential Energy Code Applications on the Upswing

  

2014 marks the 35th year that the State of New Hampshire has required an energy code to ensure a more efficient building stock. The Sustainable Energy Division is responsible for reviewing energy code applications for towns and cities that either do not have energy code officials or request technical assistance from the PUC.   Program Manager Jon Osgood processes more than 1000 residential code applications each year.

 

In 2013, energy code applications to the PUC increased 22% over 2012, and 60% over 2009, when code applications hit a historical low. July 2013 set a new all-time record for that month. Application numbers still pale against those of 2004 through 2006, but 2014 is off to a strong start, with applications since January up 35% from the same period in 2013. These trends seem to indicate that the home building industry is on the rebound and may experience continued growth throughout 2014.  

 

Since 2010, when the state adopted the 2009 International Energy Efficiency Code (IECC), new homes and commercial structures have been built to use around 15% less energy than homes built under the prior code, IECC 2006. Towns and cities are free to adopt more stringent energy codes; the town of Durham, for instance, has adopted the newest available energy code, IECC 2012, which results in an additional 15% reduction in energy consumption.

 

Before the energy code, most homes were built with 2' x 4' walls, minimal levels of insulation, inefficient appliances and lighting, and single pane windows. Consequently many homes were saddled with high energy costs.

 

Due to ever more stringent energy codes and improved building practices, however, new homes and commercial buildings today are more energy efficient. Most homes are being constructed with 2' x 6' walls, significant insulation in walls, basements and attics, Energy Star appliances, compact fluorescent or L.E.D. light bulbs, and double or triple pane windows that provide for less heat loss in the winter--and less solar gain in the summer--than standard code-compliant windows.

 

Energy code applications should be submitted for new homes, commercial buildings, or additions in municipalities without energy code officials. Applications are available at Residential Energy Code Application (EC-1 Form) or Durham Residential Energy Code Application (EC-1A Form) . Usually applications are processed within a day. Contact Jon Osgood at Jon.osgood@puc.nh.gov or 603.271.6306 with questions.

 

 

 

6th Annual Local Energy Solutions Conference April 12

Learn How to Make Energy Projects Happen and Save Tax Payer Dollars

 

 

Breakout discussion of local energy issues and solutions, at the 5th annual conference.
Brought to you by the New Hampshire Local Energy Work Group, the annual LES conference provides critical resources, information, and guidance for local governments and school districts across the state seeking to implement an energy reduction project in their municipality. More than 250 people attend the LES conference each year. The conference provides an ideal forum to meet and learn from other New Hampshire energy leaders who have successfully implemented an energy project, hear best practices, identify financing options, and much, much more! For more information, and to register, click here.  The conference will be held April 12, 2014 at the Winnisquam Regional High School, Tilton, NH from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.  Registration begins at 7:30 am.