One in 12 New Hampshire households depend on wood products as the primary heating source.
The rugged mountains running the length of New Hampshire are home to Mount Washington, site of the world record for inland wind speed. In 1980, the mountains were also the site of the nation’s first, short-lived attempt to harvest wind resources at a commercial wind farm. South and east of the mountains, New Hampshire has rolling hills, scenic lakes, and fertile farmlands. The state stretches from the Connecticut River, its western border, across the Merrimack River valley eastward to Maine, and southward from Canada to Massachusetts. The state’s climate is diverse, with cooling Canadian influences in the northwest and warmer, ocean-moderated weather in the southeast. New Hampshire has just 18 miles of Atlantic coastline with a single deepwater port, and the state’s population is concentrated in the river valleys and near the coast.
New Hampshire, with 84% of its land wooded, is second only to Maine in the percentage of forested land. Forest products, including wood pellets for space heating,are an important part of the state economy and the mainstay of New Hampshire’s biomass energy industry. One in 12 households depend on wood as their primary heating source. The Merrimack River, now home to hydroelectric turbines, powered New Hampshire’s early industrial mills. Traditional manufacturing of textiles has been replaced by advanced electronics manufacturing, which has grown alongside Massachusetts’s high technology sector. The state’s proximity to Massachusetts population centers has also fueled growth in tourism to New Hampshire’s lakes and mountains, increasing energy use for transportation and for second homes. One in 10 New Hampshire homes is only seasonally occupied. The transportation sector and the residential sector each consume nearly one-third of the energy used in the state, while the industrial sector consumes only about one-eighth. The commercial sector consumes the rest. New Hampshire’s economy is among the nation’s most efficient in energy consumed per dollar of gross domestic product.
One-sixth of New Hampshire net electricity generation comes from renewable resources, with biomass facilities providing more than half of that renewable power and hydroelectric facilities generating most of the remainder. Most biomass facilities use wood and wood waste-derived fuels, such as wood pellets, from the state’s forest industry.
New Hampshire’s biomass and hydroelectric facilities are mostly small and older; on average, biomass facilities are more than 30 years old, and hydroelectric facilities are 60 years old. The state has a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that sets requirements that escalate to 2025, when 24.8% of electricity sold in state must come from renewable sources. About three-fifths of that renewable power must be obtained from sources that started operating after January 1, 2006. Renewable energy generated in neighboring New England states can be used to comply with the RPS. Northern Pass, a proposed high-voltage transmission line to bring 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectric power from Quebec to the New England grid, would traverse New Hampshire north to south. The proposal has prompted debate over whether Canadian hydroelectric power should be counted toward the state’s RPS. Because of concerns about the cost of renewable technologies, New England governors are exploring regional procurement of renewable resources to meet state RPS goals more economically.
Most new renewable projects in New Hampshire are powered by wind or biomass. One 75-megawatt biomass project involved converting the boiler of a shut-down paper mill to generate electricity from wood byproducts. New Hampshire’s first modern wind farm opened in 2008, and three more wind facilities have since begun operating. In 2015, New Hampshire obtained 2% of its net electricity generation from wind. The state has an estimated 2.1 gigawatts of wind power potential along its mountain ridges and another 3.6 gigawatts along its Atlantic coastline. However, several recent proposals for additional inland wind farms have encountered local opposition, and there have been no proposals for turbines off New Hampshire’s shores.
In 2012, New Hampshire became the first state to offer RPS credit for renewable thermal projects, including new or expanded biomass, solar thermal, and geothermal resources, which deliver energy as heat instead of electricity. New Hampshire does not have net electricity generation from utility-scale (1 megawatt or larger) solar facilities, but more than 26 megawatts of small-scale solar generating capacity, like rooftop solar photovoltaic panels, were installed in the state by the end of 2015.New Hampshire allows net metering of customer-sited distributed generation for facilities up to 1 megawatt that use eligible renewable or efficiency technologies, including solar. In 2016, New Hampshire lawmakers raised the cap on the amount of distributed capacity eligible for net metering from 50 to 100 megawatts.Customer applications for much of the new capacity were already waiting in power providers’ connection queues
Seabrook, the largest nuclear plant in New England, can provide more than half of New Hampshire’s net electricity generation.
Most of New Hampshire’s net electricity generation comes from just five large power plants. of New Hampshire’s net electricity generation typically comes from the Seabrook nuclear plant, the largest nuclear station in New England. Natural gas provides between one-fifth and one-third of net electricity generation. Coal, hydroelectric power, and biomass supply nearly all the remaining generation. Electricity generation from natural gas increased markedly early in the last decade with the commissioning of two large generating stations. New Hampshire is part of the Independent System Operator (ISO) New England regional electricity grid. As increasing amounts of natural gas are used for electricity, in New Hampshire and in New England as a whole, assurance of natural gas supply has become a critical strategic energy issue for the region.
New Hampshire partially deregulated its electricity sector beginning in the 1990s. A few older generating stations are still owned by one retail power distributor. The state has among the highest retail electricity rates in the nation. New Hampshire’s electricity use per capita, like most of New England’s, is low, in part because of limited demand for air conditioning during the mild summers and because fewer than 1 in 10 households use electricity as a primary energy source for home heating.
The state is part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and has pursued energy efficiency programs to lower electricity consumption. With increased electricity generation from natural gas and renewable energy, in addition to reduced demand because of the economy and efficiency measures, New Hampshire has complied with its RGGI carbon emissions targets.
New Hampshire does not produce natural gas. New Hampshire receives natural gas by interstate pipelines from Maine, Massachusetts, and Canada. About half of the natural gas that enters the state passes through to reach consumers in Maine or Massachusetts. With the growth of natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, Maine””which used to ship Canadian natural gas to New Hampshire””may now receive more natural gas through New Hampshire than it supplies.Additional interstate pipeline capacity to and through New Hampshire has been proposed. More than half of New Hampshire natural gas is consumed to generate electricity, with the rest distributed nearly evenly among the commercial, residential, and industrial sectors. About one in five New Hampshire households use natural gas as their primary energy source for home heating. With substantial differences between natural gas and home heating oil prices in recent years, a number of home and business owners switched to natural gas, in New Hampshire and throughout New England. However, New Hampshire is still among the lowest one-third of states in per capita natural gas consumption, in part because large areas of the state do not have natural gas distribution infrastructure.
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