New Hampshire should join the other New England states and establish a renewable energy standard to promote growth of renewable power, witnesses told a Senate committee Tuesday.
The Energy, Environment and Economic Development Committee voted after the hearing to recommend passage of a bill to do just that.
The bill would establish the standards, which require electric utilities to obtain renewable energy certificates for a certain percentage of the power they supply to customers. Each certificate represents one megawatt of power generation from a renewable source, such as solar, geothermal, biomass, wind or hydro.
Gov. John Lynch has joined governors and business leaders nationwide in endorsing 25 x 25, an effort aimed at producing 25 percent of the energy consumed in the United States comes from clean, renewable power by 2025. Renewable energy portfolios are intended to increase the development of renewable sources.
About 14 percent of New Hampshire's power already is from renewable energy.
Supporters told senators Tuesday that by increasing renewable energy sources, the U.S. can decrease its dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world, and make the nation and economy more secure. The shift could also spur the creation of new jobs and new industries in New Hampshire, they said.
Public Service Company of New Hampshire's conversion of its coal-fired power plant in Newington to a wood-fired plant is an example of how local power can be derived from a renewable resource.
Ross Gittell, a University of New Hampshire economics professor, recently analyzed the impact the bill could have on the state's economy. He concluded electric customers would pay slightly more initially, but would benefit from an energy market that was more independent of foreign oil.
Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, said independence from foreign energy volatility is a key reason the bill is needed. She said it also would promote job growth and cleaner air.
Afterward, Lynch praised the committee's action and said that if New Hampshire wants to secure a more stable, cleaner electricity supply for future generations, the time to act is now. Establishing standards would move the state closer to ensuring 25 percent of New Hampshire's energy comes from renewable sources by 2025, he said.
"Reaching that goal will give our state more energy choices, bolster our economy and make our air and water cleaner. It will help create jobs right here in New Hampshire by expanding uses for our wood products, in building clean power plants, and in research and development," Lynch said.