Retail Merchants Association defend RGGI
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In today’s Concord Monitor, Retail Merchants Association President and CEO Nancy Kyle takes issue with our coverage of New Hampshire role in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI.
The Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire’s Energy Efficiency Program, now in its third year, is underwritten by the RGGI program. Businesses that enroll and eventually qualify for rebates for energy efficiency investments are required to match those funds 5 to 1. The result is that the program has leveraged hundreds of thousands of dollars in private investment. Today, more than 85 small and mid-size companies across New Hampshire have enrolled.
For many small companies participating, the support they receive from the Energy Efficiency Program has enabled them to save thousands of dollars, which is then reinvested to create jobs and grow their businesses. This is a great example of New Hampshire working to pull itself out of a severe economic slump and rebuild the economy on Main Streets all over the state. The real story Bosse should be writing is about the many small and mid-sized businesses that have taken a problem – unaffordable energy costs – and turned it into a success.
While the RGGI program has ping-ponged politically over the past couple of years and is not particularly popular with the current New Hampshire Legislature, it is important to remember that this is a long-term program that is still maturing and advancing. New Hampshire consumers pay into the program through the regional wholesale market, so simply pulling New Hampshire out of the program will only leave us paying for a program and not receiving any of the benefits. In addition, by investing these dollars and the dollars the program leverages here in New Hampshire, we are keeping energy spending local. This is compounded by the fact that less energy purchased means more dollars staying in the local economy.
At its core, RGGI is a market-based carbon pollution control program that uses the market to establish the cost of pollution allowance on major emitters and then returns those dollars to ratepayers in the form of energy efficiency programs. This program stands in strong contrast to other top-down environmental regulations. The competitive bidding for the New Hampshire program established a method to invest rate payer dollars with actual residents and businesses. In the first round of the RGGI Program, project grants were made to some individual companies like Stonyfield Farm, and the Gorham Mills. Since then, the program has matured and dollars are now allocated in accordance with several customer sector programs, chosen through a competitive bid, and are not granted directly by the Public Utilities Commission to individuals or companies.
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