Electricity costs in New Hampshire are expected to nearly double this winter. As residents contend with the consequences of higher electricity bills, CLF is more determined than ever to reform the energy systems that power our lives and damage our climate.
That’s because affordable energy and clean energy are not mutually exclusive: We can save money on our utility bills while slowing climate change. But New Hampshire’s state leaders, as evidenced by their most recent ten-year Energy Strategy, think otherwise. Let’s look into everything their plan gets wrong – and what New Hampshire actually needs to cut energy costs, safeguard our health, and protect our climate.
New Hampshire Blames Other States for Its Energy Failures
One of the biggest misdirections in New Hampshire’s Energy Strategy is the Sununu administration’s claim that other New England states’ climate actions are causing our rising electricity prices. The administration is referring to the various climate laws and policies that every New England state – with the exception of New Hampshire – has passed. These include legal mandates to cut climate-damaging emissions, policies that require an increasing percentage of renewable energy in the electricity mix, and plans that bolster state energy efficiency programs.
According to our state leaders, such mandates make electricity prices rise because of “high-cost renewables.” Despite the fact that other states’ climate and energy policies are driving the push for renewables, NH state leaders claim Granite Staters will feel the pressure of increasing prices.
But none of that is true.
State climate mandates and actions are paid for by the states that enact them, no one else. And renewable energy, such as offshore wind, costs less than ever before – even the same price or cheaper than natural gas. If anything, the influx of more clean energy driven by other New England states will only lower prices for New Hampshire residents – the opposite of what the Sununu administration claims.
Not to mention, New Hampshire’s high electricity costs result from the administration’s misguided policies. The Public Utilities Commission rejected an ambitious energy efficiency plan that would have helped families and businesses cut back on their energy use (and lower their bills). Instead, the Commission supported gas pipeline construction and other policies that shackle us to more fossil fuel dependence – failing to address the root of spiking electricity prices.
New Hampshire’s Solution for High Energy Prices? Business As Usual
Under the guise of this misdirection, the Sununu administration uses the Energy Strategy to push a hands-off, status quo energy policy. It insists that governments should not interfere with energy policy, which should be dictated by the free market instead.
But we know what that looks like, given that the free market is what led to us dealing with such price-volatile fossil fuels in the first place. It’s also disingenuous, given the billions of dollars in federal subsidies directed to the oil and gas industry every year. (Globally, fossil fuel subsidies have soared to nearly $6 trillion.)
Worse, the administration ignores the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. It does the opposite – promoting more natural gas usage. It also fails to call for expanded energy efficiency programs even though these programs save consumers money and cut climate-damaging emissions.
In fact, the Energy Strategy barely mentions climate change and doesn’t even acknowledge that New Hampshire’s use of fossil fuels is contributing to the climate crisis. This is irresponsible and irrational in the face of the climate impacts our communities already experience according to the state’s updated climate assessment (released, without any irony, just weeks before the state’s Energy Strategy).
Clearly, the Sununu administration is in denial about the reality of our climate crisis, the root cause of skyrocketing electricity prices, and the fallout of its status quo policies.
New Hampshire Needs Clean Energy to Lower Electricity Prices
What New Hampshire really needs is to transition to clean energy. We need bold energy efficiency programs that can slash the amount of electricity our buildings and appliances consume. We need more electric vehicles to address the state’s largest source of carbon pollution while cleaning up the air we breathe. And we need to leave fossil fuels, including methane gas, behind for the sake of our health and our future.
Last year, we urged the Sununu administration to amend the ten-year State Energy Strategy to include these solutions. However, the final strategy released in July includes nothing we pushed for – even though those solutions would have lowered the electricity costs residents are suffering under right now.
But the Energy Strategy falling short does not mean our fight is over. CLF advocates will continue to push New Hampshire to act on climate – standing up for the best interests of all Granite Staters. Our recent win to bolster electric vehicles is just one example of how we’re not giving up on climate change. We’ll need your help as we continue this fight – stay tuned for opportunities to get involved.