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NH Senate committee considers bill to raise net-metering cap

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NH Senate committee considers bill to raise net-metering cap

Lawmakersin New Hampshire are considering a bill that would raise the net-metering capin the state by 50 MW for utilities and require state regulators to developalternative net-energy metering tariffs.

Thestate Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a March 30 hearing onH.B. 1116 and heardtestimony from legislators, industry groups and utilities both for and againstthe bill.

TheHouse of Representatives passedlegislation March 10 that doubled the state's net-metering cap for solargeneration from 50 MW to 100 MW, following the Senate's Feb. 4 approval of S.B.333, which seeks to increase the cap to 75 MW. The House version likewiseoriginally sought a 25-MW cap hike until legislators amended it to 50 MW. Thepush to raise the cap for the state's four utilities in January when reached itsindividual limit on the amount of customer-generated electricity that iseligible for net metering under state law. Gov. Maggie Hassan has also voicedsupport for the bill.

RepublicanRep. Frank Edelblut, the bill's primary sponsor, voiced his support at thehearing and said the current net-metering cap is threatening to shut down a "growing"industry. He also called the cap an "artificial, government-imposedproduction limit on business." Edelblut said the goal is to keep the industryoperational but added that the 50-MW increase is more of a "transitional"measure.

DemocraticRep. Bill Baber said the bill is very similar to S.B. 333, but that the currentHouse version of the bill was amended to include language on the "avoidanceof unjust and reasonable cost shifting" and "a fair allocation ofcosts and benefits," both of which were pushed for by

Babersaid the current bill will "endure over the long term and do so in a waythat is fair to all ratepayers" instead of acting as a short term crisisresolution.

TheBusiness and Industry Association, New Hampshire's chamber of commerce, isopposed to the cost-shifting provision and urged the committee to reject thebill. The BIA supports solar and other types of renewable energy andunderstands there is a general consensus that the 50-MW cap should be raised,President Jim Roche said in a statement.

ButRoche said the BIA does not support raising the cap "without firstestablishing the credit at the wholesale rate for excess generation."

"Tocontinue this credit at the more expensive retail rate, as HB 1116 does, willcontinue the unfair cost-shift to all other rate-payers — business and residentialcustomers alike," Roche said, adding that the state's electric rates arecurrently 58.5% higher than the national average.

"Manufacturers,who drive New Hampshire's economy and employ nearly 68,000 people throughoutthe state, and other significant energy users, are very sensitive to the costof electrical energy," he added. "These jobs don't have to be here,nor do manufacturers have to grow here."