Tomorrow morning, New Hampshire lawmakers will be heading to Concord for veto day, where they will determine the fate of the 6 bills that were rejected by Governor Sununu.
Of those 6, New Hampshire residents concerned about their utility bills are probably most anxious to see the outcome of Senate Bill 365 and Senate Bill 446. Should these misguided pieces of legislation receive a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers – enough to override the Governor’s veto – ratepayers in New Hampshire should prepare to have their electricity bills increase by roughly $100 million over the next three years.
The state of New Hampshire has 6 biomass – wood burning – power plants that have been heavily subsidized for years. These subsidies have been a terrible deal for New Hampshire taxpayers, who have been footing the bill in the form of higher electricity costs. SB 365 would exacerbate this problem.
SB 365 would force distribution utilities to pay biomass power plants above market rates, further shielding them from the competition of lower-priced alternatives. These costs, too, would be passed onto New Hampshire ratepayers, costing them around $25 million a year.
Similarly, SB 446, which pertains to net metering, would also raise costs on ratepayers in New Hampshire. Net metering is intended to push consumers towards the use of renewables like rooftop solar by allowing them to sell their excess power back to the grid, thus reducing their own energy bills. Ultimately, this cost shifting scheme results in rooftop solar consumers being subsidized by consumers who do not have or cannot afford solar.
SB 446 would worsen the consequences of such cost shifting by raising the cap on New Hampshire’s net metering program from 1mw to 5mw and forcing utilities to compensate solar energy generators above wholesale rates. Much like SB 365, SB 446 would benefit a select few at the expense of the rest and is projected to cost ratepayers up to $10 million a year.
New Hampshire ratepayers already face some of the highest energy prices in the country. Piling legislation such as SB 365 and SB 446 onto this financial burden would only make matters worse, particularly for those who can least afford it.