Renewable Energy: The future for New Hampshire


Sarah Donovan, Content Editor

With the New England region warming at one of the fastest rates in the world due to climate change, a transition to more renewable energy is essential to reduce greenhouse gases and further warming. 

To combat New Hampshire’s accelerated warming, the four guests that lectured at the 2023 Changemaker Speech at UNH on Thursday, Feb. 16 outlined innovative renewable projects that are coming to NH, in addition to giving tangible steps that citizens can make for a happier planet. 

Fortunat Mueller, president, and co-founder of ReVision Energy commented that many renewable energy projects have not been sustainable long-term. One of the reasons may be the Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR). This rule requires energy producers to buy into a separate market in the energy world, to be “on-call” to ensure that the grids will have enough energy to power times when energy use spikes, such as increasing heat waves.

An annual auction is held by the grid operator that projects three years out. The issue with this future bidding is that the rates to bid in are high, as there hasn’t been a great volume of companies in the market. There have been issues in the past where new renewable gas plants were subsidized, creating an uneven buy-in, so the MOPR was mandated in N.H. Vineyard Wind, an offshore wind project being installed near Martha’s Vineyard, the first commercial-sized project tried to negotiate the high buy-in price of the MOPR but was not approved and did not pass the auction. 

The University of New Hampshire is committed to reducing its contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and proudly has a Platinum ranking from the Sustainability Tracking and Rating System ( STARS). UNH is one of the only 11 universities in the country to achieve this award, recognizing its commitment to sustainability.

One major reason that UNH has a STARS Platinum rating is the university’s main source of energy: the Rochester landfill. Methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, is captured from the landfill before being released into the atmosphere, which is siphoned into UNH’s power plant through a 12-mile pipeline that’s referred to as the “Ecoline.” The university is the first in the country to power an entire campus from its power and heat power plant, with landfill gas as its main energy source. 

ISO New England, the company that owns New Hampshire’s electricity grid, predicts that the state will be able to be powered by 56% of renewable energies by 2040; we’re currently at 12%.

“Sustainability is integral to all of our strategies,” said Thomas Meissner, CEO of Unitil. The company is one of the big suppliers of electricity and natural gas to NH, Maine and Massachusetts. They are synthesizing greater renewable energy strategies working with the SMART program. One of the ways they are increasing their sustainability is expansion into solar energy, with a big solar project in Massachusetts. 

Meissner asked the key question during his lecture, “How is the system that we have today going to look different in 2050?” 

His answer was that he sees Unitil customers adopting clean energy sources, such as rooftop solar panels, which the company is working to be a provider of. 

Meissner went on to discuss the great amount of clean energy that is going to be needed in the coming decades to mitigate climate change. He said that wind energy will be an integral form of renewable energy, but also mentioned that this will be a difficult and extensive process. 

April Salas, executive director of the Revers Center for Energy, Sustainability and Innovation at Dartmouth College, highlighted that renewable energy must be affordable and fast for families, or converting to renewable energy statewide will not be possible. 

“What we don’t want is the clean energy economy to be a ‘nice to have,’” said Salas. She said that officials need to ensure that there are no unintended consequences of the clean energy business, and who has access to clean energy. Salas concluded that the clean energy climate needs to be an inclusive climate. 

Mueller said that “efficiency pays for itself.” That’s why he and his team at ReVision Energy are working toward a more environmentally and energy-efficient future with their solar panel business. He said that ReVision Energy is currently in the process of installing a large solar project in Exeter, New Hampshire. 

All speakers had a common goal: to mitigate future climate change. The speakers gave their takes on how to combat climate change through renewable energy. This seems to be the future for a sustainable New Hampshire.