Energy consumption for power generation, direct use and transportation remain the largest sources of air pollution emissions in the state.
The modern global economy requires a considerable amount of energy in order to meet the needs for appliance, heating and cooling, and transportation. The environmental and economic impacts of energy use are significant. Throughout New Hampshire, the nation, and the world, reliably meeting energy demands with affordable energy, while minimizing the impacts to public and environmental health is an ongoing challenge. Energy use – specifically the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, transportation, and heating and cooling – accounts for the vast majority of air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The United States economy consumes more energy than almost any other country, with the exception of China. When viewed on a per capita basis, the US is the largest consumer of energy in the world. According to the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, the U.S. average per capita energy consumption in 2018 was 309 million British thermal units (BTUs). For a similar time period, New Hampshire’s consumption per capita was 235 million BTUs, ranking New Hampshire 41st compared to other states in the nation. This ranking is not for household energy consumption, but instead accounts each state’s total energy consumption inclusive of intensive manufacturing that New Hampshire does not have.
New Hampshire’s total energy consumption has fallen from a peak of nearly 450 trillion BTUs (TBTUs) to nearly 370 TBTUs in 2017. This change is due to a significant transformation in the electric sector as coal and oil fired generation was replaced largely by more efficient natural gas-fired power generation and due to energy efficiency that reduced overall demand for electricity. More moderate reductions in energy were seen in the transportation sector and for use for direct energy use in buildings.
The state is engaged in ongoing efforts to support the expansion of energy efficiency (EE) to reduce energy use further as well as support renewable energy (RE) projects to increase the supply of local clean energy supply. The impact of EE and RE is reduced emissions that directly support the protection of public and environmental health.
There are several more state partnerships and initiatives established to meet the state’s energy goals:
- NHSaves – New Hampshire’s electric utilities, as directed by the legislature, established the NHSaves Program, a statewide energy efficiency program to provide New Hampshire customers with information, incentives and support designed to save energy, reduce costs, and protect our environment statewide.
- NH Public Utilities Commission Sustainable Energy Division – The Sustainable Energy Division was created in 2008 to assist the Commission in implementing specific state legislative initiatives promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency and to advance the goals of energy sustainability, affordability and security. The division manages the state’s Renewable Energy Fund (REF) and administers the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law.
- NH Energy Education Project – The New Hampshire Energy Education Project serves K–12 students, their teachers, and their school communities throughout Vermont and New Hampshire to guide students in developing a deep understanding of energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy technologies, and climate change.
- Local Energy Solutions Working Group – Formed in 2008 in response to municipalities across the state forming the first local energy committees and commissions (LECs), the Local Energy Working Group is an ad-hoc group drawn from local, state, and federal government, and nonprofit partners collaborating to providing collaborative guidance and technical support to LECs, municipalities, schools, and other political subdivisions seeking to reduce energy use, minimize energy costs and/or reduce fossil-fuel consumption.