NH PUC Moves to Boost Energy Efficiency CLF Intervenes to Encourage Greatest Benefit to the Environment and Consumers

Brian Barth

Contact:
Colin Durrant
CLF Communications Director
(617) 850-1722

Concord, NH (June 13, 2007) — New Hampshire’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has begun to explore how electric utility ratemaking can be used to encourage increased investment in energy efficiency, prompting a petition today by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) to intervene in the PUC proceeding. CLF said its goal is to work with the PUC to create efficiency measures that provide the greatest benefit to the environment and consumers.

“Energy efficiency is the most cost effective, readily available means to reduce the state’s electricity demand and mitigate the impacts of global warming,” said Melissa Hoffer , Director of CLF’s New Hampshire Advocacy Center .

Traditionally, a utility’s revenues are tied directly—or coupled—to the amount of electricity it sells, an arrangement that CLF says discourages utilities from investing in energy efficiency measures that reduce electricity demand and global warming pollution from power plants. The electric power sector is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Hampshire .

The PUC’s investigatory docket is expected to focus primarily on “decoupling,” a system that breaks the connection between utility revenues and electricity sales, removing the disincentive to invest in energy efficiency. Decoupling works by allowing regulators to determine, in advance, a utility’s fixed costs and set rates to produce revenue to cover those costs. If efficiency programs lead to reduced electricity sales, decoupling allows for a periodic “true-up” to ensure that utilities will recover fixed costs regardless of electric sales volume, decoupling utility revenues from the volume of electricity sold. Conversely, if the true-up shows an amount in excess of fixed costs paid by ratepayers, a refund is issued to consumers.

“We welcome the PUC’s efforts to work with utilities, consumers, and environmental advocates to achieve a solution that will enhance efficiency programs, keep the lights on, and reduce greenhouse gas and other air pollution,” said Hoffer.

*Read the 6/13/07 CLF Petition for Intervention

The Conservation Law Foundation ( www.clf.org) works to solve the most significant environmental challenges facing New England . CLF’s advocates use law, economics and science to create innovate strategies to conserve natural resources, protect public health and promote vital communities in our region. Founded, in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine , Massachusetts , New Hampshire , Rhode Island and Vermont .

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