Rep Michael Vose: State must face reality when it comes to clean energy

GOP energy agenda leads to steady economic prosperity


As the world reaps the benefits of 100 years of energy growth and prosperity due primarily to fossil fuels, the clean energy future envisioned by some continues to sputter. On one recent day, New England generated 800 percent more electricity from oil and coal than from wind and solar. Unlike the authors of “Governor Sununu’s energy policy is a road to ruin” (Jan. 14-27 NH Business Review), our governor and conservatives in the state Legislature recognize this reality and have put us on a road that leads to steady economic prosperity.

Only after careful consideration, the majority of the members of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee pursue energy policies that promote clean energy in an affordable and sustainable manner. Using the skyrocketing cost of European energy as an example of what to avoid, responsible state lawmakers advocate for policies that avert huge cost increases that can put Granite State citizens into a state of energy poverty.

Energy-efficiency policy, while important to our future, must be provided within the context of other policies. When added together with support for renewable energy and potential costshifting among ratepayers from net metering, recent attempts to increase energy-efficiency spending put utility bill increases in danger of going up dramatically. Total clean energy subsidies in New Hampshire, while lower than nearby states, today approach nearly 10 percent of a household electricity bill.

In November 2020, several members of the House questioned in a letter to the state Public Utilities Commission whether the time was right to pursue a massive increase in energy-efficiency funding during a pandemic whose economic consequences were still uncertain.

Using Thomas Sowell’s “common sense of everyday people,” the letter simply asked the commission to consider the question. Subsequently, the commission, which already had grave doubts about the efficacy of such a huge funding increase, delayed the plan. They ultimately rejected it 11 months later.

The newest commissioners at the PUC apparently take very seriously their responsibility to regulate utilities to ensure they provide essential services at the least possible cost. Under the leadership of a new chairperson with a stellar engineering and management background, the commission’s recent decisions make a strong statement that it will always place ratepayer protection high on its list of duties.

Likewise, a streamlined PUC and a new Department of Energy provide a structure to ensure that state energy policy and regulation remain separate, which reduces the likelihood of conflicts of interest.

As former PUC Commissioner Thomas Getz wrote recently, “Importantly, the DOE will be able to play an active policymaking role, which the PUC was not designed to do.”

State policymakers must continually reconcile reality with our clean energy aspirations. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that fossil fuels will remain crucial to our country’s energy future for the next several decades.

Our embrace of energy innovation must recognize that reality and proceed at a careful and deliberate pace. To do anything else is the true “road to ruin.”

Rep. Michael Vose, R-Epping, is chair of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee.

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