N.H. grants full RPS credit to biomass thermal

By Anna Simet | June 25, 2012

New Hampshire has become the first state to grant full credit to renewable thermal projects under a renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

Established in 2007, the RPS requires electricity providers to provide 23.8 percent renewable electricity to customers by 2025, and grants renewable energy credits (RECs) on a four-category classification system. New Hampshire S.B. 218 adds thermal renewable to the RPS, granting RECs up to $29 per megawatt-hour of useable thermal energy produced by qualifying projects.

While 29 states and Washington D.C. have an RPS, only 8 have limited thermal provisions and they are generally narrowly restricted, according to the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, one of the groups heavily advocating for the passage of S.B. 218. More states such as Vermont, Maryland and Massachusetts, however, are considering expanding their RPS to include thermal.

Wood or wood pellet boilers heating commercial or institutional buildings are examples of biomass thermal projects that would qualify. Other thermal applications such as solar hot water arrays on building rooftops or geothermal heating and cooling systems would also qualify.

“This is an important step forward in efforts to gain equal consideration for thermal energy,” said BTEC Executive Director Joseph Seymour. “With little happening on energy policy in Washington, efforts must focus on state policy to achieve a more fuel and technology neutral incentive structure for renewable energy.”

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission will now undergo administrative rulemaking to implement the thermal provision. Thermal projects will qualify for the RPS after Jan. 1, 2013, and the program is authorized at least through 2025.