NHLA advocates for low-income energy efficiency programsPosted Feb 13, 2018
On January 2, 2018, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a new 2018-2020 Statewide Energy Efficiency Plan for the New Hampshire gas and electric utilities. The three-year plan will provide comprehensive energy efficiency services for commercial, industrial, and residential customers. The plan increases the number of households to be served through the low income residential Home Energy Assistance (HEA) program. The HEA program provides energy efficiency measures and services to households with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
The Commission found in its Order that the settlement agreement was just, reasonable, and in the public interest, in part, because it provides for cost-effective programs that help reduce energy costs for all consumers, including low income families who have disproportionally high energy burdens.
As in past years, New Hampshire Legal Assistance (NHLA) filed a petition to intervene in the PUC docket on behalf of its client, The Way Home. NHLA's representation of The Way Home and low-income residents is supported in part by the IOLTA program of the NH Bar Foundation. NHLA filed an intervention petition to ensure that the low income energy efficiency program is designed and implemented to work effectively and to serve as many low income households as possible.
Low income families in New Hampshire often spend a large percentage of their income on heat and energy costs, which means they have less money for other basic needs. Investing in energy efficiency is proven to be one of the most effective ways to decrease the cost of a household’s utility bill, helping vulnerable families better afford other important needs such as food and healthcare. Studies have shown that energy efficiency programs not only promote more affordable utility service in the long run, but also lead to safer homes and improvements in health outcomes. Reducing the demand for energy also reduces our state’s dependency on fossil fuels and contributes to a reduction in pollution.
The 2018-2020 plan increases funding for energy efficiency programs for low income consumers. This will enable the utilities to provide energy efficiency services to more low income households, including the many households around the state on long waitlists for low income weatherization services. The measures implemented during the three year plan are projected to achieve significant energy savings for low income households.