Some Americans think the northern states don’t get enough sunshine (solar resource) to support a solar energy industry. As a New Hampshire resident, you might be one of them. However, solar power research proves that all American states (including New Hampshire) get as much or more annual solar resource as Germany, and Germany leads the world in solar energy capacity. By the end of 2012, Germany had installed about 30 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity, which provided between three and 10 percent of its national annual energy consumption. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Alaska has more sunny days on average annually than does Germany. The reality of capturing electrical energy from the solar resource is that the solar resource doesn’t have to be hot, just visible. By comparison, Germany averages just 3.0 kilowatts per square meter per day (kWh/mÂ²/day), whereas New Hampshire averages 4.45. There’s plenty of sunshine in the Granite State to sustain residential, corporate and utility-grade solar power systems.
New Hampshire also benefits by being a member of this unique entity. Five states — New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Rhode Island — have joined as a regional leadership body for the development and implementation of a uniform solar power industry across New England. Sharing roles, information and technology, the states are making great strides in creating a solar electric energy generation resource that will reduce carbon emissions dramatically in the next 20 years.
While the cost of solar power equipment has dropped significantly (by 53 percent) since 2010, the expenses involved in installing and connecting it to the local electric grid haven’t kept pace. The primary barrier to easy connection of solar to grid has been the myriad of rules and regulations that impact any resource attempting to connect with a public utility. The solar power systems that are installed on residences and business buildings are required to have government-issued permits for installation and connection to the grid. Permitting is most often done by local governmental entities that may or may not have processes in place to quickly or easily move a solar installation forward. And every jurisdiction “does it their own way” — they implement permitting rules that are very specific to their geographical location. Across a state, permitting rules can vary in a vast number of ways, essentially prohibiting the opportunity for a uniform, state-wide application process for installing a solar power system. The Partnership is working to streamline permitting and connection processes to be uniform across all five states.
The state has determined that 24.8 percent of its energy generation must come from renewable sources by the year 2025. As of 2014, 17 percent of its electricity was from renewable sources (including nuclear power, renewable natural gas and biomass sources). Otherwise, New Hampshire relies on coal, nonrenewable natural gas and other oils for electricity generation. Electricity is fairly expensive in the state, averaging 16.07 cents per kWh, the sixth-highest rate in the country. The national average cost per kWh is 11.88 cents.
For residents not connected to a municipal utility company (which are exempt from the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS), a rebate for a percentage of the purchase price of a solar power system is available up to $3,750 or 50 percent of the system costs. The residence-based system must generate less than 10kW and be certified as meeting UL 1703 by a nationally recognized testing lab.
For companies, non-profits, public entities and other non-residential New Hampshire residents, a rebate of up to 25 percent of the project cost is available for systems generating 11kW to 100 kW-AC, or 101kW to less than 500kW.
New Hampshire also offers tax incentives for solar power installations. The state authorizes cities and towns to offer property tax exemptions for solar power system installations (at the rate of the property minus the cost of the solar power system).
Until the end of 2016, the federal government also offers an Incentive Tax Credit for 30 percent of the cost of installation for residential solar power. For businesses, the feds also offer a commercial Incentive Tax Credit.
Net metering value:
New Hampshire requires all utilities to offer net metering to “solarized” customers whose systems generate a capacity of up to one kW. For those systems that send excess electricity back to the grid, customers can receive a credit on their electric bill.
Like most of New England, New Hampshire is doing its part to reduce carbon emissions and engage with resources that will not perpetuate environmental challenges in the future. Sunshine in the granite state is more than sufficient to sustain reliable electrical supply. Industry and administrative revisions are reducing the cost for everyone — individuals and corporations — to affordably and efficiently access solar powered electricity for all their power generation needs.
RGS Energy designs and installs solar energy systems in New Hampshire and many other states in the U.S. Visit RGSEnergy.com for more information or to get a quote.