Liberty Utilities: Have You No Shame?

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By Buck Williams, TPT Energy Agitator

Oh, those utilities in New Hampshire — they say the darndest things about solar.

As I’ve written about before, the Granite State is about to screw up solar by either allowing the industry to come to a screeching halt by not raising its net metering cap or raising it such a piddling amount as to be inconsequential.

(Net-metering is the practice of giving solar users fair-market credit for the electricity they put back to the grid, and it has been instrumental in expanding the solar market nationally, including New Hampshire. Contrary to utility claptrap, it does not increase the burdens on other ratepayers, as innumerable studies in other states have shown.)

But now the hypocrisy of the state’s utilities is in full view, based on an integrated resource plan (IRP) filed by Liberty Utilities. It is a glorious illustration of Liberty’s “Solar for me but not for thee” philosophy (emphasis mine):

Liberty is in the process of evaluating investment in a renewable distributed energy resource, although such discussions are in the infancy stage. Should Liberty determine the benefits of a particular company-owned distributed generation project outweigh the project’s cost, the Company will submit a filing to the Commission pursuant to RSA 374-G:5, and would treat Company-owned or contracted DG option on an equal footing with other wires and non-wires alternatives when selecting the least cost alternative to reducing demand on a particular feeder or group of feeders serving an area. Therefore, Liberty’s distribution planning process currently considers and incorporates distributed generation, and has begun the evaluation process of owning distributed generation, in light of the current net-metering cap.

Allow me to translate Liberty’s weaselspeak: “We will cap solar net metering on privately-owned solar systems to bring the competitive market to heel. Then we, as a government-sponsored monopoly, will charge ratepayers to build our own solar on those very ratepayers’ private rooftops and have a complete monopoly over the sun.”

What’s going on here is nothing short of Liberty Utilities and their NH comrades like Eversource and Unitil trying to stifle competition and steal energy independence and choice from New Hampshire residents. It’s up to New Hampshire legislators to make sure this blatant power grab does not stand. They can choose to let net metering continue uninterrupted without the monopoly utilities’ meager, disruption-inducing cap. They can make a small fix to a bill currently in the Senate – SB 333 – to allow for this. Don’t let the utilities put a cap on private investment, consumer choice and energy independence.

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