New Hampshire’s Governor Saved Residents Millions By Vetoing Solar Subsidies

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

The governor of New Hampshire vetoed legislation that would have expanded net metering caps, claiming it saved his constituents millions in subsidies.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu officially vetoed SB 446 on Tuesday. If signed into law, the bill would have raised the state’s net metering caps from its current 1-megawatt limit to 5 megawatts per customer. Under net metering rules in many states, residents who own solar panels are able to sell excess energy produced to power companies for more than its worth. Non-net metering customers typically subsidize this process by way of higher energy bills. There is also a risk for energy companies involved, who are mandated to purchase electricity from net metering producers with no guarantee that these producers will supply it.

Sununu claimed he was saving ratepayers between $5 and $10 million by blocking the legislation.

“These immense projects should use incentives already available and compete on their own merits. The businesses and working families of our state should not have to provide additional unjust taxation through higher electric bills,” Sununu said in a statement pertaining to his veto decision, also calling the bill a “handout to large scale energy developers.”

Sununu — the son of John Sununu, a former Republican governor of New Hampshire — entered office vowing to reduce the state’s rising energy costs, calling for a “paradigm shift” in policy. His office released an agenda in April that called for a pivot to nuclear and natural gas, and a veering away of subsidies to wind and solar companies.

The veto comes as a setback for solar companies that have largely benefited from net metering rules. Democratic supporters in the state legislature criticized the GOP governor’s move.

“It’s very hard to override a veto. I think we have enough votes in the Senate, but we may not have enough in the House,” said Democrat Sen. David Watters, a co-sponsor of SB 446 who wishes to override Sununu’s veto, according to Foster’s Daily Democrat. (RELATED: California Debates Going ‘Carbon Neutral’ As Grid Worries Mount)

The veto comes not longer after New Hampshire’s next door neighbor, Vermont, chose to reduce the amount of compensation net metering customers receive for their energy. Regulators in the state claimed a change needed to be made because ratepayers were getting charged too much.

Sununu also vetoed SB 365, legislation that would have required utilities to pay above-market rates for energy produced at biomass plants, ultimately costing New Hampshire ratepayers $25 million over three years.

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