The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (www.biomassthermal.org) applauded New Hampshire Governor John Lynch and the state's Senate and House of Representatives for their passage of legislation (N.H. Senate Bill 218), a bill that adds thermal renewable energy to the state's renewable portfolio standard.
New Hampshire is the first state to fully incorporate renewable thermal energy into its RPS program, and grant incentives to biomass, solar and geothermal project developers that are equivalent in value to those for developers of renewable electricity projects. Renewable energy certificates will be worth up to $29 per megawatt-hour of useful thermal energy produced by qualified thermal projects, and the program is authorized at least through the year 2025.
"This is an important step forward in efforts to gain equal consideration for thermal energy," said BTEC executive director, Joseph Seymour. "With little happening on energy policy in Washington, efforts must focus on state policy to achieve a more fuel and technology neutral incentive structure for renewable energy. New Hampshire has led the way in showing the nation that it is possible to enhance state RPS programs by adding thermal energy."
Examples of qualified projects are wood or wood-pellet boilers heating commercial or institutional buildings, solar hot water arrays on hospital rooftops, or geothermal heating and cooling systems for nursing homes or correctional facilities. The New Hampshire provision will be available to residential, commercial and industrial applicants. Qualified projects will be able to utilize the revenues from the sale of RECs to finance the often high capital cost of these advanced renewable technologies, thus greatly reducing the payback time on initial investment.
"Now is the time for other states to consider New Hampshire's leadership," said Seymour. "Thermal energy represents over one-third of all energy consumed in America. Energy policy that only focuses on electricity or transportation fuels ignores the tremendous economic and environmental benefits of displacing our dependence on fossil heating fuels with renewable energy."
With passage of the bill, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission will now undergo administrative rulemaking to implement the thermal provision. Thermal projects will not qualify for the new incentives until after Jan. 1, 2013.
"BTEC will be actively promoting the concept across the country through facts sheets, webinars and other promotional materials" Seymour said. "The addition of thermal to state RPS programs has been a major objective of BTEC. We will continue the fight to bring parity in energy policy to the use of wood and agricultural biomass in advanced heating technologies and combined heat and power."
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