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NH Joining "Reggie" -- But Where Should the Revenue Go?

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May 13, 2008

Concord, NH - In the State House, everyone agrees that New Hampshire should be part of "Reggie," the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, but they're stuck on a key detail. The issues are, what happens to money earned when utility companies sell carbon emission credits, and how much goes to the state's energy efficiency efforts?

The House bill (HB 1434) would use the first $12 from each carbon credit for energy efficiency, with any money left over going to ratepayers. But last week, the Senate set a $6 threshold and today, the Senate Finance Committee may trim that even more. Democrat Martha Fuller Clark of Portsmouth sponsored "Reggie" in the Senate and has concerns the cuts will take too much away from efficiency efforts.

"The House came in with a $12 threshold, and we have already cut that in half. We need to understand that, if we don't put this money into this fund, we're not going to see the levels of energy efficiency and conservation that we need."

Senator Bob O'Dell, a Republican from Lempster, advocates a more modest start for the plan.

"I certainly think that I would be an advocate of something less than the $6 level, and if the program is wildly successful, the Legislature could increase the rate of increase; or if there are problems, we could slow the process."

The state fund would help pay for energy-saving initiatives in businesses and homes. Conservation groups support the higher figure, but the Business and Industry Association is among the groups supporting a smaller threshold, saying a lower amount would still be sufficient to help consumers and businesses deal with high energy costs.

John Robinson/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NH