[A text-only version of the Foreword is below. Click here to see the full 60-page version with graphics, or cut and paste thus URL in your browser. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YpU_U48Qpj4nCM0f0CC4d2fcCiWG40SVCzQWyXsWJj0/edit?usp=sharing]
A Renewable Energy Future for New Hampshire
An Action Plan with a Focus on Demand and Consumption
( Oct. 13, 2020 )
Foreword (Robert Backus, Peter Somssich, Ken Wells)
The best time to plan for the future is now. Despite our current issues surrounding our health in the pandemic and our severely depressed economy, we nevertheless must not fail to plan for our children and grandchildren’s future, and that of our state of New Hampshire.
In 2018 many of this paper’s authors were involved in producing the white paper: “A 100% Renewable Energy Strategy for New Hampshire’s Future”. Its purpose was to be a counterpoint to the “New Hampshire’s 10-Year State Energy Strategy Plan” issued by the Governor’s office in April 2018. We felt that the plan was grossly inadequate and just endorsement of the status quo. Our white paper was intended as a tool to inventory all of the NH home grown renewable energy resources that our state already had available. Our state has many realistic opportunities to increase our readily available renewable energy supplies, with offshore wind installations and importation of onshore wind and hydropower. Our 2018 white paper also emphasized the desirability of increasing energy efficiency by all users. It focused primarily on in-state electricity generation and usage. But electricity generation accounts for only 45% of the energy that our state produces annually. In this 2020 Action Plan we will focus instead on the much larger amount of energy that is consumed in New Hampshire, which is about evenly split between transportation, residential power and home heating, and commercial plus industrial consumption.
In this 2020 Action Plan, we will outline a framework for a comprehensive energy plan. We will discuss why certain components are important to such a framework, and what actions have already been undertaken, or should be undertaken to promote a path to a 100% clean, renewable energy future for our state.
A framework for action on our state’s total energy demand must begin with a vigorous attempt to reduce our energy use for electricity, heating and transportation. Since such actions will have an impact on our state utilities, we must find ways of providing the kind of incentives to them that encourage them to partner with us in such an effort. Hand in hand with our effort to reduce our energy demand, we must support in-state development of renewable energy sources, whether by industrial users, municipalities or residential/community efforts. All energy generators using renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass, should be allowed to sell their energy at a fair price into the main grid. In parts of our state where the energy resources and demand are poorly matched, forming collaborative microgrids or “energy islands” could allow adjacent municipalities or regional entities to cooperate. By creating a local microgrid, they will be able to attract new and support existing businesses, while creating new jobs and reducing the financial burden to taxpayers of the combined municipalities. Furthermore, pursuing the possibility of using energy storage facilities to complement intermittent energy generators, allowing energy to be stored for that time when it is most needed, must be part of any New Hampshire energy independence and reliability effort. Our vision of New Hampshire’s transportation system must also change to anticipate more electric cars and trucks, as well as vehicles powered by compressed gases such as propane and hydrogen.
During the past two years the NH legislature has attempted to promote numerous initiatives to move us forward on our path to a renewable future. Unfortunately, most of these efforts were blocked as the result of partisan politics and a resistance to change. Any action plan needs to recognize the political and practical realities in New Hampshire, so that we know how to begin. Most of us can agree that a clean, renewable and sustainable energy future is our common goal that we all share. However, different people define the terms “clean”, “renewable” and “sustainable” somewhat differently, so the co-editors suggest that we begin work to standardize our language about these concepts. For example, a “renewable” energy source should be one that, with proper management, will not be depleted over time and will continue to be available. Such a definition precludes fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, and also nuclear energy as it is currently deployed. A “sustainable” energy source is one that will continue to be available, at a price including externalities such as health and environmental impacts, that society deems affordable. That is why an energy source with volatile prices, that faces depletion, or builds up a toxic waste product is not sustainable. Finally, most people would agree that a “clean energy” source is one that neither generates climate-endangering greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. CO2 or methane) nor creates any other hazardous consequences.
Because not all of the authors agree on the preceding definitions, and because we wish to be practical with our recommendations for actions, some of the proposals related to energy may not seem to be in total harmony with an action plan which hopes to have as its goal, not just a clean energy future, but a 100% sustainable and renewable energy future for our state. However, one area where we all agree completely is the great potential inherent in Energy Efficiency in improving all aspects related to energy. We want to emphasize that a renewable energy future continues to be our goal, but our long journey must begin from our current reality.
We have recruited a group of authors with specific knowledge and expertise in energy topics, to explain the importance of these areas for our state, and to suggest actions that effectively address those areas. This action plan does not represent a consensus view of all the topics discussed, but gives voice to several points of view that are part of clean energy’s political reality. That is why the author of each contributed section is clearly identified; they are representing their own view. When a specific author is not listed, that section was contributed by the coeditors, using the various sources cited. Despite these shortcomings, we believe this action plan provides a good resource for policy-makers and lawmakers to use in setting a course toward our energy future. The authors recognize that climate change is already occurring and prompt adaptation to this fact is imperative. But they also see adaptation as a positive economic opportunity, because New Hampshire's aspiration to a 100% renewable energy goal will bring new opportunities and benefits to all the people of New Hampshire, while mitigating and perhaps helping to reverse the global effects of climate change.
The cheapest watt of energy is a "negawatt" - a watt of energy saved. Because that saved watt was not lost, was not purchased, and was not produced, energy efficiency produces “negawatts” that are the lowest-hanging fruit available to us.
- Reps Balch & Mann
Ken Wells represents Andover, Danbury and Salisbury in the New Hampshire House of Representatives during the 2018-2020 session.