New Hampshire's regulated electric distribution utilities jointly develop and offer their customers energy efficiency programs under a statewide umbrella program, NHSaves. These programs are funded via a system benefits charge included in customer rates. Each year, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission reviews and approves program plans and budgets submitted by the utilities. Utilities can earn performance incentives based on successful implementation of their programs and meeting performance goals.
Natural gas efficiency programs are not part of NHSaves. New Hampshire natural gas utilities administer energy efficiency programs that are approved by the New Hampshire PUC.
NH PUC reported that electric utilities saved 74,877 MWh in 2010, and had energy efficiency program budgets in 2011 of $25.6 million. Natural gas efficiency program budgets totaled $7.8 million for 2011.
Reported budgets for energy efficiency programs for 2011, and electricity savings for 2010, are in the State Spending and Savings Tables for all states.
New Hampshire restructured its electric utility markets and has maintained support for its utility energy efficiency programs. In Order No. 23,574, issued November 2000, the Commission emphasized its commitment to energy efficiency programs that complement new energy markets and do not hinder their development. The Commission requested that utilities work together to design a set of "core" programs that are consistent in their design and meet the Legislature's directive to target cost-effective opportunities that may otherwise be lost due to market barriers.
On May 31, 2002, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission issued Order No. 23,982 in Docket No. DE 01-057, approving the implementation of “core” energy efficiency programs by the state’s electric utilities through 2003. This order established the basis for the NHsaves statewide energy efficiency program. For the most recent order, see Order #25,189 from DE 10-188.
The PUC reviews and authorizes the utilities’ joint program plans and budgets annually. The utilities offer joint, statewide programs to gain the benefits of uniform planning, delivery, and evaluation. Within the umbrella of a statewide program, however, each individual utility incorporates flexibility in its implementation strategies and program delivery. From the customers’ perspective, programs look virtually the same in all service territories. NHsaves uses shared marketing and information materials (such as its Web site).
According to the Public Utilities Commission, New Hampshire utilities reported incremental energy savings of 74,877 MWh on electric energy efficiency in 2010. Reported budgets for energy efficiency programs for 2011, and electricity savings for 2010, are in the State Spending and Savings Tables.
New Hampshire Electric Co-Op's SmartSTART Program is a no-money-down option to have energy-efficient products installed in New Hampshire businesses. The cost of the improvements is repaid based on 75% of the estimated energy bill savings. If the customer moves and the efficiency measures stay, the obligation to pay for the measures passes to the next customer at that meter. Program approval is based on the customer’s good standing with the utility. There is no credit review required. More information on the program can be found in the ACEEE report, Energy Efficiency Financing Programs.
The New Hampshire PUC issued an order in January 2009 allowing electric and natural gas utilities to propose rate design mechanisms to promote energy efficiency in future rate cases on a case-by-case basis. The Commission listed three primary options: (1) performance incentives, (2) rate design (decoupling), and (3) reconciling rate adjustment mechanisms (either partial or full).
This order could lead to decoupling and/or lost revenue recovery proposals in the future, but no approach has been approved for utilities. (NH PUC Docket DE 07-064, Order 24,934).
Performance incentives currently exist for New Hampshire’s electric and natural gas utilities. Utilities can earn performance incentives of 8–12% of their total program budgets for meeting cost-effectiveness and energy savings goals (Order 23.574, November 2000). Separate target incentives are set for residential and commercial/industrial sectors — 8% of the total program and evaluations budgets for each sector. Superior performance can be rewarded by an incentive of up to 12% of the planned sector budgets.
The evaluationof ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in New Hampshire relies on legislative mandates (SB 323). Evaluations are mainly administered by theNew Hampshire Public Utilities Commission. New Hampshire has formal requirements for evaluation articulated in Docket DE 05-157, Order 24,599. Statewide evaluations are conducted. In terms of a benefit-cost test, the Total Resource Cost (TRC) is used in New Hampshire and is considered to be the primary test for decision making. The benefit-cost tests are required for total program and individual measure level screening. The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in Order 23,574. Some exceptions exist for low-income programs, pilots, and new technologies.