Excerpt from “Fear of job cuts boosts solar program,” by Dave Solomon, published in the New Hampshire Union Leader.
CONCORD — Hoping to avoid layoffs in the growing solar energy sector, lawmakers have decided to double the size of a program designed to encourage solar power installations.
The program, known as net metering, rewards owners of solar panels by allowing them to sell surplus electricity back into the grid and get credit on their electric bills, which offsets the cost of the panels.
New Hampshire households use about 4,000 megawatts on a hot summer day, but only 50 megawatts have been allowed into the net metering program for the past 10 years.
The state hit that limit a month ago, as solar took off in 2015, and has been struggling with the issue ever since. Lawmakers first drafted a bill, HB1116, raising the limit to 75 megawatts to give regulators time to figure out a long-term solution.
Solar industry lobbyists argued that the new limit of 75 megawatts would be quickly exhausted, and force them to lay off workers. State representatives apparently took heed, and on Feb. 17 the House Science Technology and Energy Committee voted 19-0 to amend HB1116 to allow up to 100 megawatts under existing rules.
The increase to 100 megawatts was proposed by Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, and Wilton State Rep. Frank Edelblut, R-Wilton, a candidate for governor. Gov. Maggie Hassan supports the increase, as does Eversource, the state’s largest utility.