New Hampshire wouldn’t withdraw from a multi-state cap-and-trade compact under a reform bill passed yesterday by the Senate, but advocates say the move weakens a program that is succeeding in promoting clean energy.
For the second year in a row, the House passed a bill seeking to remove New Hampshire from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, but Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley offered up the same amendment as last year that continues the program but changes the way it operates in the state.
“We are in deja vu,” Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican, said before the Senate voted 18-6 to pass the bill as amended.
The Senate amendment takes state revenue earned by auctioning off carbon allowances to power plants – money that is currently distributed as grant funding for energy efficiency projects by the state Public Utilities Commission – and puts it into an energy efficiency fund controlled by utility companies, Bradley said. The bill also lowers the rebate threshold on auction proceeds so money that would have been spent by companies to purchase carbon allowances is used to slightly reduce rates for customers.
Though the Senate version does not have the outright repeal provision desired by the House, it does provide a mechanism for New Hampshire to leave the program if it is preceded by the withdrawal of two other New England states, or one state carrying 10 percent of the energy load between the New England states participating in the program.