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June 10. 2012 10:47PM

Leader to follower: NH blows it on RGGI

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a scheme by which state governments force electric utility rates higher (effectively raising taxes on all utility customers) and use the money to fund “green” projects such as solar panels on buildings and energy efficiency programs. Instead of leading New England out of this scam, New Hampshire legislators have just agreed to perpetuate it, though with some real improvements.

House Republicans have tried to repeal RGGI. They passed a repeal bill last year, and it squeaked through the Senate. But Gov. John Lynch vetoed it. This year the House passed another repeal bill, but the Senate was not going to go along. So a compromise was reached. The bill that passed last week would take half of the RGGI funds and rebate them to ratepayers. The rest would go for the typical RGGI feel-good green projects.

That is a big improvement. But New Hampshire consumers still will pay higher utility rates so a handful of people can get to play Green Jobs Czar at home and work.

The Senate made a concession designed to get House votes: If two other New England states, or one state that has at least 10 percent of the total electric load of the New England states, withdraw from RGGI, New Hampshire will follow. Who, though, will take that lead?

New Hampshire was the most likely state to lead the Northeast out of this bad compact. Now, instead of leading we wait to follow. Meanwhile, Granite Staters continue to pay higher than necessary electric utility rates. What a lost opportunity.

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