A new report released today by Environment New Hampshire Research & Policy Center says that despite recent progress on clean energy, New Hampshire has moved backward on energy efficiency. New Hampshire’s rate of energy savings actually declined from 2007 to 2015, ranking the state last in the country. The only other states that moved backward on efficiency were Florida and Alaska.
On a brighter note, wind and solar power have grown to make up more than 4.5 percent of the state’s electricity supply -- up from almost zero in 2007. The report notes that overall progress has come from a combination of smart policy, improved technology and rapidly falling costs -- all of which suggest the potential for rapid growth in clean energy in the years to come.
“More and more, we’re seeing evidence that a future powered by renewable energy is within reach,” said Ariel Barbieri-Aghib from Environment New Hampshire Research & Policy Center. “New Hampshire can go forward, not backward. Let’s seize the moment and accelerate our progress.”
The report, Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future, provides a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key technologies needed to power the nation with clean, renewable energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, energy storage and electric vehicles. New Hampshire ranked 30th for growth in wind energy, 32nd for growth in solar power, and 31st in electric vehicle sales growth.
While most of the country moved forward on saving energy, New Hampshire actually moved backward. In 2007, New Hampshire reduced its electricity consumption by 0.7 percent through energy efficiency measures. By 2015, we were only reducing our electricity consumption by 0.59 percent per year. That ranks New Hampshire last in the country.
"We need local action," said Representative Lee Oxenham. "We need people to come forward for clean energy."
The report comes as New Hampshire and eight other states in the region are about to make an important decision about how fast to clean up pollution from traditional power plants. This summer, Governor Sununu and his colleagues will update the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an effective program that limits pollution and generates money that most states use for clean energy programs. The program has generated more than $120 million for New Hampshire so far. Legislative changes in 2013 directed about three-quarters of the annual revenue from the program to bill rebates, away from efficiency programs. That reduced spending is one reason why New Hampshire moved backward on efficiency. Environment New Hampshire is urging the governor to double the strength of the program and increase efficiency spending.
At the same time, a growing number of U.S. cities, states, corporations and institutions are committing to move to 100 percent renewable energy. Currently 37 cities have committed to 100 percent renewable energy, including Hanover, NH. Nearly 100 major companies have made a 100 percent renewable commitment, including Apple, Walmart and LEGO. Hawaii is committed to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. California and Massachusetts are currently considering legislation. And, legislators have introduced bills for 100 percent renewable energy in both houses of Congress.
“Hanover citizens voted overwhelmingly to move to 100% reliance on renewable sources of electricity by 2030 and renewable sources of fuel for heating and transportation by 2050,” explained Representative Patricia Higgins. “In my experience, no issue has drawn out young people like this one has."
"Key clean energy technologies are improving rapidly and getting cheaper seemingly every day," said Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, report co-author. "These and other advances open up new opportunities to end our dependence on fossil fuels and embrace a future built on clean, renewable energy."
“The reality is inescapable: fossil fuels pollute our air, water and land, threatening our health and changing our climate even faster than scientists predicted,” said Barbieri-Aghib. “We need to lean into a future powered by clean, renewable energy.”