Although New Hampshire lags far behind other New England states in solar policy, it has seen an explosion in the number of solar installers vying to lead the state’s clean energy transition. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), New Hampshire is home to some 85 solar companies that employ 1,184 people, spurring $155 million in solar investment in the state.
The emergence of a clean energy industry in New Hampshire corresponds to a rapid rise in the number of homeowners and businesses that have chosen to go solar instead of paying for imported fossil fuels.
Approximately 9,000 New Hampshire homes are currently powered by the sun, according to SEIA, and more than half of the 57 megawatts of total solar electricity in New Hampshire was installed last year alone.
According to ReVision Energy, the state’s largest solar company, the rapid rise in solar adoption is due to increasing awareness of the costs of climate change as well as homeowners’ desire to keep their energy dollars in state and save money in the process.
“The cost for solar panels has dropped by 64% over the past 5 years, making it practical for Granite Staters to invest in a technology that comes with a 25-year warranty and proven ability to perform well in our region,” said Phil Coupe, co-founder of ReVision Energy. “In fact, New Hampshire’s solar resource is equal to that of Houston, TX and only 10% less than Florida.”
Nevertheless, industry leaders say the decision by the state Public Utilities Commission to artificially reduce the value of solar electricity exported onto the grid through net metering – contrary to independent analyses that find solar electricity benefits all ratepayers by supplying maximum power at periods of peak demand – could hamper future growth.
Even more disconcerting to the solar industry is the current uncertainty around the future of state rebates for solar projects, which serve to level the playing field with heavily-subsidized fossil fuels and enable lower-income homeowners and nonprofits to reap the long-term rewards of a solar investment through lower up-front costs. With only 0.32% of New Hampshire’s electricity mix currently coming from solar, such modest incentives are considered by the industry to be an important ingredient in the state’s clean energy transition.
By contrast, Massachusetts currently generates roughly 6 percent of its electricity from solar with 30 times as many megawatts (1,592) of total solar installed, according to SEIA.
Uncertainties aside, ReVision Energy says it is not letting up on its goal of a 100% clean energy future for New Hampshire and the region. In addition to full-service solar installations, the company provides hyper-efficient heat pumps, electric vehicle charging, battery storage, and complementary technologies to support a solar-powered lifestyle. It was recently named #1 in New England by Solar Power World Magazine.
“The technology has arrived and the only question that remains is us whether policymakers will allow the burgeoning clean tech industry to truly take off in our state by leveling the playing field with heavily-subsidized fossil fuels,” said Dan Weeks, Director of Market Development at ReVision Energy. “The science is clear that solar and wind are now the cheapest sources of electricity on earth and essential for a sustainable future.”