56% fee hike to provide $154m in energy efficiency benefits to someBy MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader
January 08. 2018 9:29PM
CONCORD - More than $154 million will become available over the next three years for homes and businesses to make their places more energy efficient.
“This plan is really providing us an opportunity in New Hampshire to reach more customers with energy efficient savings,” said Donald Kreis, the state’s consumer advocate.
Kreis said it is cheaper to spend on energy efficiency than buying or generating power for that same kilowatt hour of electricity saved.
Most of the funding comes from a portion of the monthly system-benefits charge on people’s bills, according to Eversource.
A person would pay about $1.72 a month for 625 kilowatt hours of power usage to support energy efficiency programs, 62 cents more than last year, according to Eversource.
The fund will pay incentives for customers to buy Energy Star certified lighting, appliances and water heaters.
The utilities also provide money to home builders to make homes more efficient, such as better heating and cooling equipment and high performance windows, according to details of the plan released by the state Public Utilities Commission, which approved the program.
Money also will be available to large industrial and commercial customers that want to become more energy efficient.
“All these different programs target different segments of the customer base,” Kreis said.
The program also provides targets for utilities to cut energy consumption.
“This plan expands upon those existing programs that we’ve been offering customers,” said Kate Peters, a senior analyst for energy efficiency at Eversource New Hampshire.
Before this, “we didn’t have specific energy savings targets,” Peters said.
The savings targets are for a 0.8 percent cut between 2014 and 2018 energy sales, a 1 percent cut in 2019 vs. 2014, and 1.3 percent in 2020 vs. 2014, according to Eversource.
Unitil spokesman Alec O’Meara said he believes the plan will benefit Unitil’s customers, assuring existing energy efficiency programs remain and others perhaps added.
“These programs have been popular among both residential and business customers, as those that have taken advantage have seen real savings on energy costs,” O’Meara said. “We’re hopeful that under this new plan more customers will be able to take advantage of these opportunities.
The agreement covers Eversource Energy, Unitil Energy Systems Inc., Liberty Utilities, the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, as well as EnergyNorth Natural Gas and Unitil natural gas operations.
Customers can contact their utility for more information.