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Energy Efficiency Impacts

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 11:00 AM | Kim Pyszka (Administrator)

Written By: Laura Samoisette, High Performance Buildings Project Manager at Resilient Buildings Group

The November 12th the Public Utility Commission (PUC) order has caused a string of confusion amongst those who are in the NHSaves pipeline. The drastic cut of 40-60% of the NHSaves budget proposed in the PUC order would have been catastrophic to the NH energy efficiency industry and a stomp on all progress made to date. In November 2020 the NH Public Utility Commission rejected the 2021-2023 three-year energy efficiency plan to boost energy efficiency rebates and incentives for homeowners and businesses. In addition, commercial and industrial customers in particular were facing a Systems Benefit Charge of 168% under the PUC order. Many of us fought long and hard to keep the budgets up in the interest of the people. The problem is now (mostly) resolved, with HB549 being signed to law about a month ago. We in the energy efficiency industry are relieved, as it means we still have jobs identifying projects and facilitating their incentives. However, I’ve found that many clients today are questioning why their energy efficiency awards are less than what they were expecting.

The current NHSaves program budget is set to 2020 levels with the signing of HB549 instead of what many were expecting to be a notably higher 2022 rate. We have essentially taken a step backwards in the budget available to assist project owner’s and their teams. We are now seeing the 2022 close-out of several projects started in 2021, whose owners are expecting the incentives rates that were set when they engaged their projects, or even higher assumed 2022 levels. These projects are receiving adjusted incentives rates because currently the 2020 rates are in effect.

 

Let’s be clear, energy efficiency incentives are never guaranteed until you sign an acceptance letter. Registering or engaging your project with your utility provider does not ensure that you will receive all the incentives you are filling out paperwork for. There are many reasons for this: your initial assessment may be inaccurate, the year you are filing in may lapse and budgets for the program are typically adjusted annually and in some cases the budget may already be spent. My experience has mainly been working to facilitate NHSaves Path 3 incentives- electric and natural gas savings over code and Path 4 incentives- energy efficiency equipment. Engaging early and frequent communication is key to receiving maximum incentives. Here is some helpful advice for proceeding with these programs:

     Engage early and have frequent communication with your utility provider in order to receive maximum incentives.

     Fill out paperwork early to avoid issues.

     Ask about the possibility of incentives on equipment that is just out of reach of that

SEER threshold, it never hurts to ask.

     For path 3, work congruently with a technical assistance vendor to find cost-effective

solutions for pushing the energy efficiency of your project. You will be awarded in the

end with larger incentives check as well as lower operating costs. Not to mention free

assistance from professionals with many years of experience to pull from.


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