CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (December 14, 2016)—New Hampshire could greatly increase private-sector investment in clean energy, bring down the costs of such projects, and spur job creation and economic growth by offering a more comprehensive approach to financing local clean energy projects, according to a study released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), in coordination with the Northeast Solar Energy Market Coalition (NESEMC).
The analysis shows how the state could expand clean energy financing programs to make additional low-interest loans available to homeowners, businesses and municipalities who want to make energy efficiency improvements, install solar panels, or invest in other types of clean energy projects. Establishing the program with an initial $14 million public investment would leverage $300 million in private sector investments over 15 years, according to the study.
“Increasing clean energy investments in New Hampshire would help reduce the state’s reliance on imported coal and natural gas for electricity generation, while keeping more money in the state economy,” said Steve Clemmer, energy research director at UCS and lead author of the analysis. “Expanding clean energy financing in New Hampshire is one way for the state to continue its transition to a clean energy economy, while creating local jobs, lowering energy costs and ensuring consumers earn a sizeable return on their initial investment.
“Nationally, New Hampshire is lagging behind in solar, wind and energy efficiency investments and clean energy jobs,” Clemmer added. “This could help it catch up, as new businesses manufacture and sell clean energy technologies, existing businesses expand, and people are put to work installing and maintaining projects.”
UCS analyzed the potential outcome of creating a clean energy financing authority in New Hampshire, based on the experiences of existing green banks and clean energy lending programs in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and elsewhere. According to the analysis, such a program in New Hampshire could:
- Drive $300 million in clean energy investments over the next 15 years, if supplied with $14 million in initial capital;
- Support the deployment of more than 70 megawatts of new solar and community wind power projects, producing enough clean power to meet the annual electricity needs of more than 17,800 households;
- Save homes and businesses more than $40 million per year on their electricity bills due to energy efficiency investments; and
- Reduce the state’s carbon emissions by nearly 222,900 tons per year—the equivalent of taking 42,600 cars off the road.
“Combining existing state clean energy programs with more robust private sector funding can be a more predictable and sustainable route to achieving large scale deployment of solar and renewable goals in the Northeast states,” said Mike Trahan, co-director of NESEMC, an alliance of solar and clean energy groups operating in the Northeast and funded through a cooperative award from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. “A good example is the Connecticut Green Bank that has generated nearly $1 billion in alternative energy investments since 2012 with 90 percent of that coming from private investment. It has helped create almost 8,300 state jobs and reduced carbon emissions by 1.4 million tons.”
New Hampshire has opportunities to advance clean energy and energy efficiency deployment, Trahan pointed out. In 2015, the state ranked 30th in the country for energy efficiency, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, and 36th for solar jobs, with 730 positions, according to the Solar Foundation.\
“New Hampshire history shows that making a modest but secure investment in this type of venture is a low-risk and high-reward opportunity,” said Kate Epsen, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association. “By using modest public dollars to invest in our energy future, the state's economy will match and grow that investment many times over. We have already seen this with our state’s Renewable Energy Fund, and this new financing model would build and expand upon that success.”