More support for biomass and solar energy?

Apr 13, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

On Tuesday, April 11 a House committee heard testimony on a bill that would increase state support for biomass and residential solar energy.

The bill, SB 129, directs money from the Renewable Energy Fund to financing for low to moderate income solar projects, and removes other barriers to solar development in manufactured housing communities and multi-family housing.  The bill also increases the share of solar and biomass energy that electricity companies must buy under the Renewable Portfolio Standard.  If electricity companies do not buy the minimum amount of biomass energy, SB 129 increases what they must pay the state instead.  

Bill supporters argue that SB 129 is a jobs bill because it supports the forest industry and six biomass power plants in New Hampshire.

“Losing these biomass power plants, and the low-grade timber (trees unsuitable for lumber) markets they provide, will negatively impact hundreds of jobs and disrupt New Hampshire’s entire forest products industry,” wrote Jasen Stock, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association. 

Others support SB 129 because it will make solar panels more accessible to low-income homeowners.

The New Hampshire Business and Industry Association (BIA) opposes the bill, however, because it will increase costs for electricity companies that must buy biomass and solar energy.  Those costs contribute to New Hampshire’s high electricity rates.

“This bill isn’t just about jobs, but it is about costs and jobs,” said Stefanie Lamb, vice president of public policy at the BIA. 

Other opponents argue that biomass energy is not as clean as other renewable energy sources, particularly because it relies on the transportation – by fossil fuel vehicles – of wood products.  For that reason some argue the state should invest in other alternative energy.

Do you support SB 129?  Share your opinion in the comments below.

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