Energy Efficiency

15 May 2019

Viewpoints: Energy Efficiency is The First Step Towards Clean Energy Today

15 May 2019  by Mary Ewell   

How many people in New Hampshire are aware that for the past eight years they have been getting a rebate in their monthly electrical bill? Probably not many. There are likely two reasons for this. One, the Eversource bill that many Granite Staters receive (at least in the Monadnock region) doesn’t itemize the rebate. Secondly, it only amounts to about $12 to $25 annually, depending upon household usage – monthly that’s a very small rebate!

Now, what if you now learned this rebate annually totaled $11 million dollars when all individual rebates across the state are added up. Senate Bill 122, which passed the N.H. Senate and is now in the N.H. House, reallocates these funds back to the original intended usage, energy efficiency programs. What would you think about using this collective money to help energy efficiency programs in New Hampshire? Let’s look at the facts, starting with energy efficiency investments, see how the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is supported, and break down a figure from the SB122 summary.

First, energy efficiency doesn’t sound cool – but when compared to investments in solar panels or traditional fossil fuels like coal or oil, investment dollars going toward energy efficiency give you about double the return. Yup, you can get the same return from a $4 investment in energy efficiency, as you’d get from a $10 investment in solar, coal or oil. Even natural gas would require $6 for the same return. So, investing is energy efficiency is a great way to clean up our energy usage – by simply reducing use and therefore not having to invest in energy sources!

What is RGGI, and how is it that its funds are getting rebated to us? RGGI was set up in multiple states to collect monies from carbon dioxide power polluters and then provide these monies back to the state to support programs to reduce energy use and thus greenhouse gases. If you want to learn all about it – check out the URL here:

SB122 would essentially return RGGI to its original monetary allocations. Looking at Figure 1 – it would take the $11 million now rebated and reallocate it to three existing areas of funding: 1) Low-income Energy Efficiency program, 2) Energy Efficiency Program for Municipalities, and 3) All-fuels Program.

The first program allocates funds to qualifying low-income residents for help weatherizing their homes. So, that means getting help to seal up their attic and basements so that the heat used during the winter doesn’t go out the attic but actually keeps the house warm. Many residents are also on fuel assistance, so even if you think you many not have a stake in their suffering during cold spells, you likely do, as these fuel assistance dollars are federal money. If these homes are weatherized, the residents will be more snug and cozy during the winter, but will also use less or no fuel assistance.

The low-income weatherization program has a waiting list of approximately 10,000 residents. This number may even be low, as with a list that long, many no longer sign up. Presently, homes buttoned up under the program annually are less than 100. Although not the only source of energy efficiency funding, people can wait a decade or more to receive weatherization. At the present pace – some residents on the list may never live to see weatherization improvements, all the while paying for heat that seeps out their attics and enduring cold winter months without comfort.

With the passage of SB122, the number of homes weatherized would increase to approximately 1,000 annually. We cannot wait any longer for this smart energy investment and to answer the call for social equity when the solution is so simple.

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