The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission recently announced that it has closed the Commercial and Industrial Solar Rebate program until further notice over funding concerns, the Keene Sentinel reported.
Created in 2007 as part of an effort to have about 25% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2025, the Renewable Energy Fund provided rebates for this program and another residential one. Electricity providers who couldn’t purchase enough renewable energy to comply with the law or who couldn’t get the energy at a reasonable price paid into the fund, a PUC press release explains.
However, revenue for that fund dropped from $4.2 million to $3.6 million, the commission’s director of consumer services and external affairs said. Budget constraints and the long list of applicants prompted the commission to pause the rebate program. Commercial and industrial applications received before July 14 will get added to the long wait list.
Last year commercial and industrial solar rebates averaged around $14,500. That amount makes a big difference for small businesses undertaking new projects, a former director of the PUC’s Sustainable Energy Division told the paper, adding that he thinks closing the program will “kill a lot of projects.”
Solar rebate programs in other New England states vary. Rhode Island has a Renewable Energy Fund supported by a surcharge on electric customers’ bills that provides funding for renewable energy business ventures and innovative development. In January, the funding cap was $2.2 million. Connecticut’s State Energy Program, which includes commercial solar incentives, comes from a DOE grant to the state’s Energy Office.
Earlier this year, Massachusetts energy officials overhauled the way the state subsidizes solar projects, MassLive reported. The switch was prompted by a solar energy bill signed into law last year — utilities argued that the previous program had been too generous to solar developers, resulting in high costs to ratepayers. Under the new program, smaller commercial projects will also receive higher subsidies than large ones. Last year regulators in Vermont rolled back renewable energy incentives and subsidies. The future of solar rebates and incentives for businesses in Maine is currently being decided. The New York Times noted earlier this month that lobbying from utilities has prompted solar energy policy reviews in nearly every state in the country.
The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission will reevaluate the solar rebate program in September, the Keene Sentinel reported.