Solar power offers a solution to NH’s current energy crisis.
New Hampshire is in desperate need of an energy overhaul. As of Spring 2019, the average residential cost of electricity in New Hampshire was 20.16 cents and expected to increase over time. Meanwhile, the national average was 12.83 and going down. Not only do we pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country, we also produce more carbon emissions per capita than any other state in New England. Despite our state’s pristine national parks and national beauty, we contribute more greenhouse gas per person than any neighboring states.
These high utility costs and emissions, which pose serious threats to our public health, local industry, and wildlife in our state, are the result of our current energy system. 450,000 homes in New Hampshire are heated with oil. Towns and communities are spread out, increasing drive-times and demand for gasoline. The majority of electricity consumed in New Hampshire is generated by power plants that rely primarily on natural gas and coal. Expanding solar in New Hampshire would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower utility costs for all ratepayers. Solar promises a solution to the energy crisis currently facing our state.
NH’s climate is extremely well-suited to solar energy production.
New Hampshire’s latitude and proximity to the Gulf Stream offer some of the best sunshine in New England and weather patterns well-suited to solar energy production. These conditions are more than enough to power every NH home with clean electricity as well as supply all of our domestic hot water.
New Hampshire receives 30% more sun than Germany, yet our investments in solar power are far from comparable. With well over 1 million solar systems installed, Germany leads the world when it comes to renewable energy. This example underscores the huge potential for solar power generation in New Hampshire and begs why we are so far behind when it comes to implementing renewable energy.
More solar equals more jobs.
Clean energy jobs grew by almost 4% in 2018. Of these, over 4,000 were high-quality solar jobs, making solar one of the fastest growing sources of employment in the United States. In fact, the number of solar installers is predicted to increase more than almost any other employment position over the next seven years. In total, clean energy jobs outnumber employment by the fossil fuel industry by a factor of 3 and the solar industry offers more job opportunities than any single other power sector. New Hampshire’s solar industry, comprised of 87 locally-owned companies employing almost 900 people, creates more local jobs than any single other form of electric power generation.
Expanding solar energy in New Hampshire promises an increased number of high-paying, trade-based jobs. These positions are an important source of work for veterans, young people, and anyone without a 4-year degree, demographics that are often unemployed or stuck in low-skill, low-wage employment. Solar offers a solution to employment-related problems in New Hampshire by adding thousands of high-quality local jobs.
Increased solar leads to more dependable, lower cost energy for everyone.
Unlike fossil fuels, sunshine is readily and indefinitely available. As a result, the cost per kWh of solar electricity is significantly less than that of electricity from fossil fuel fired power plants. Net metering further reduces utility rates for all ratepayers by allowing homeowners to feed their excess solar energy back to the grid. Because peak solar generation often coincides with peak grid demand, increased solar capacity creates a better match between energy supply and demand. As a result, utility prices are less likely to spike during peak demand. This means that solar lowers energy costs for all ratepayers, regardless of income level or whether or not they own a solar array.
And it is becoming increasingly affordable.
Over the past 10 years, the cost of solar panels has dropped by almost 65%, from $8.50 to $2.98 per watt. As the “sticker price” of solar has gone down, it has become increasingly competitive with conventional power.
Unfortunately, the fossil fuel industry enjoys huge government subsidies that offset these potential savings. Nonetheless, the savings associated with solar power make it one of the least expensive sources of electricity on the planet. Investments in solar reduce utility costs for solar owners and all ratepayers. Over time, these benefits more than offset the upfront cost of solar. In New Hampshire, there are also several state-issued financial incentives that guarantee even more savings. Many cities and towns have chosen to offer a property tax exemption equal to the assessed value of solar energy systems. In addition, New Hampshire offers several solar rebate programs. For systems that meet rebate criteria, the state will cover up to $1,000 or 30% (whichever is less) of the upfront costs of residential solar systems and 25% for commercial and industrial systems. More details regarding the latest solar incentives are available here.
Not only is solar equipment becoming increasingly affordable, it is also extremely reliable. Solar systems are guaranteed to produce affordable (and potentially profitable) energy for decades, with little to no maintenance required. The economics of solar electricity make it an impressive cost-saving opportunity for both homeowners and businesses.
To find out how much it would cost you to install solar for your home, see ReVision Energy’s online solar calculator. (Disclaimer: SolarForNH.org is operated by ReVision Energy’s digital marketing team.)
Solar promises valuable, long-term returns on investment.
Clean energy is expected to be the fastest growing source of electricity generation in the United States for at least 2 years. Planned investments in clean energy are expected to double by 2030. This could mobilize an additional $1 trillion in private capital. Considering that solar supplies less than 0.3% of New Hampshire’s energy needs, yet accounts for $214 million in local investment, the benefits of expanding solar in our state would be impressive to say the least. In addition, unlike fossil fuels, which only provide returns on investment for as long as their finite supplies last, renewable energy sources promise significant long term returns.
In-state solar is an opportunity to improve NH’s energy independence.
New Hampshire is currently highly dependent on energy supplied from out-of-state and around the world to meet its energy needs. Petroleum, coal, and natural gas account for a huge percentage of New Hampshire’s energy consumption, none of which are sourced in-state. Every year, New Hampshire sends more than $3.5 billion out-of-state importing these dirty fuels. Much of this fuel is sourced outside the US, some from countries that present threats to national security. Solar power offers an opportunity to increase in-state energy generation, benefitting our local economy and reducing our dependence on other states and countries to meet our energy needs.