Energy underlies every aspect of modern life: transportation, communication, heating and cooling, showering and cooking, even access to clean drinking water. The ways residents and businesses in New Hampshire power their lives have changed over time and differ from other regions of the United States. New Hampshire has seen an increase in natural gas use paralleling the reduction of coal- and petroleum-fired power plants. It is continuing to see increases in local, renewable energy generation, and increases in energy efficiency over time.
However, New Hampshire is still using a high level of imported fuels to power heating, electrical generation, transportation, and industry in the state, exporting over $6 billion annually. The New Hampshire State Energy Strategy, described in Section 4, outlines a plan for New Hampshire to reduce energy imports, reduce emissions and climate impacts, and build a strong energy economy here in the state.
Looking at energy systems within states is complicated because, like many goods, energy is bought and sold across state lines. For example; nuclear energy may be used in New Hampshire to create electricity, which is then sold to consumers in Massachusetts or Connecticut. The page discusses the movement of energy across state lines in more detail below . Here it will look at where energy comes from in New Hampshire and how different sectors use energy in the state.
New Hampshire is Importing over 85% of Fuels for Energy Generation
In 2013 about 15% of the energy generated in the state came from in-state resources; from "other" renewable resources. Readers can browse through New Hampshire's current in-state energy sources using the EIA interactive US Energy Mapping System. Most in-state power sources are used for generating electricity (biomass, wind, solar, hydro) and heat (biomass); though more recently producers have begun to develop capacity to power some transportation through biofuel and electric production in the state.
The remaining 85 percent of fuels used to produce energy in the state (328 trillion of the 386 trillion Btu's) was generated using imported fuels like petroleum, coal, and nuclear material. Graph 1 shows the types of fuels used to create energy in New Hampshire. Businesses, local and state government, and individuals use these fuels to produce heat, to generate electricity, and to power the transportation system.
Generation in New Hampshire, and across the region, is changing
Graph 2 shows that nuclear power produced about 54% of the electricity generated in the state in 2014. Renewables including biomass, hydro, solar, and wind accounted for 21% of total in-state electrical generation, and fossil fuels including natural gas, coal, and petroleum were used to generate 25% of the electricity created in the state. The trends section below discusses how the state’s inputs for energy production, including electrical generation, have changed dramatically over time. Generation sources are continuing to shift significantly throughout the country.
Graph 2: New Hampshire Electrical Power Sector Consumption by Fuel
Source: EIA Table CT8 Electrical Power Consumption Estimates, 1960-2014, New Hampshire
The northeast heats with oil; the rest of the nation heats with natural gas and electricity
Graph 3: Heating Fuel Comparison- The US and New Hampshire
Source: US Census Bureau; American Community Survey B25040: House Heating Fuel
As Graph 3 demonstrates, the northeast uses more oil to generate heat than the rest of the nation. This requires New Hampshire consumers to import fuel from volatile heating oil markets and increases our emissions from fossil fuels. New Hampshire also uses notably more propane and wood to generate heat in the state than the national average. The NH Wood Energy Council has a map on their home-page of all the commercial wood energy systems in New Hampshire.
Transportation relies on imported fossil fuels
The transportation sector makes up over one third of total state energy use. The next section has more information about fossil fuel use in the state, which provides effectively all of the fuel to power the transportation sector. New Hampshire currently imports virtually all of the fuels required to create power for the existing transportation system.
New Hampshire Still Relies Heavily on Fossil Fuel to Create Energy
Graph 4: Fossil Fuels in New Hampshire
Source: EIA New Hampshire Consumption Estimates
Fossil fuels are used in all of the state’s energy sectors; for heating, to power transportation, and to generate electricity. According to the EIA, New Hampshire used 231.6 trillion Btu's of fossil fuel energy in 2014. This represents roughly 55% of total energy use in 2013 of 386 trillion Btu's. Because New Hampshire has no coal, natural gas, or petroleum resources, 100% of that fuel is imported from out of state. The next section How Sectors Use Energy in New Hampshire will look into how sectors are using fossil fuels.
According to the US Department of Energy's Energy information Agency (EIA), New Hampshire ranks 40th in the nation for total energy use per capita, meaning it is relatively efficient compared to the rest of the United States. However it is ranked higher than Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, meaning it uses more energy per capita than most New England states.
What Sectors Are Using Energy In New Hampshire and Why?
Graph 5: New Hampshire Energy Consumption by Sector
Source: EIA (2013). Total Energy Consumption Estimates
Graph 5 shows New Hampshire's energy consumption by sector. Residential, commercial and industrial sectors use energy for electricity as well as heating, cooling, and mechanical operations. The residential and commercial sector together use over 53% of the total energy consumed in the state. The industrial sector uses 13% of energy consumed, and the transportation sector accounts for 33% of energy use.
Exploring Fossil Fuel use Among Different Sectors in New Hampshire
Graph 6: Fossil Fuel Use by Sector
Source: EIA New Hampshire Consumption and Expenditures
Graph 6 displays the kinds of fossil fuels used by each sector of the economy. The residential, commercial, and industrial sectors use natural gas and petroleum for daily operations like heating. The transportation sector is powered by petroleum and a very small percentage of natural gas. The electric generation sector is using natural gas and coal as well as a small amount of petroleum products. The high use of petroleum in the residential sector is most likely a result of high heating oil use in the state.
Graph 7: New Hampshire Fossil Fuel Use as Percentage of Total Fuel Use within Sectors
Note. Energy use figures in this graph are not meant to be summed because "electric" use is also accounted for in individual sector energy use totals. Only 2013 data was available for electric data.
Sources: EIA New Hampshire Consumption and Expenditures 2013
Table C1. Energy Consumption Overview: Estimates by Energy Source and End-Use Sector
Graph 7 shows fossil fuels as a percentage of the total energy used for each sector of the New Hampshire economy. The transportation sector is completely powered by fossil fuels, while the electric sector is 25% fossil fuel powered. New Hampshire's electricity mix is relatively clean compared to other sectors. The New England electrical generation mix is cleaner than the national average regarding emissions due to a number of factors including regional clean power policies and fuel prices.
New Hampshire's fuels for energy consumption are changing
Some of the most significant changes to New Hampshire's fuel use are the reductions in coal and petroleum use and the increase in natural gas, biomass, and renewables.
Coal use has dropped significantly in the past twenty years. In 1994 the state used 33.6 trillion Btus of coal; about 10% of our total fuel consumption. In 2014 the state used 14.9 trillion Btus of coal, down to 3.5% of our total consumption. Petroleum use also dropped around 25% between 2004 and 2014, largely from reductions in use in the electrical generation sector.
Paralleling these reductions, natural gas use increased heavily over the early 2000's. Between 1994 and 2014 natural gas use in New Hampshire almost tripled from 19.8 trillion Btu’s to 58.8 trillion Btus. Renewable energy use has also been steadily increasing over the last ten years. Renewable energy use has almost doubled from 35 trillion Btus in 2004 to 60 trillion Btus in 2014.
As Graph 8 shows, overall energy use increased in New Hampshire until mid-2000 and then began to decrease. The causes of this overall energy demand decrease may include a growth in energy efficiency within the state, and impacts of a trend toward warmer winters.
New Hampshire's overall energy consumption has decreased since 2004
Graph 9: New Hampshire Energy Sources over Time Line Plot
Source: EIA State Energy Data System: Full reports and data files 1960-2014 'All consumption estimates' in Btu
*note. Data specifications differ from overall consumption figures above and vary slightly from final EIA New Hampshire consumption totals.
Source: EIA State Energy Data System: Full reports and data files 1960-2014 'All consumption estimates' in Btu
*note. Data specifications differ from overall consumption figures above and vary slightly from final EIA New Hampshire Consumption totals.
Graph 9 shows the total consumption from various energy sources and their relative movement over the last twenty years. Petroleum has traditionally made up a large part of energy use in New Hampshire. It decreased from 2004 to 2009 as it was reduced as a source of electric generation and has leveled off over the last five years as it continues to be a significant fuel for the transportation and heating sectors. Natural gas use grew significantly from 2000 to 2004 and coal use dropped over the same period. Beginning around 2004 renewable energy use increases, a trend that continues with installed solar capacity quadrupling in most recent years not yet covered by EIA statistics.
Graph 10 shows the changes in electric generation sources specifically from 2000 to 2016. The dramatic decrease in oil and coal based electric generation and even higher increases in natural gas powered generation are most noteworthy. As the graph shows, the current fuel mix is less diversified than the 2000 fuel mix, as the grid is increasingly reliant on a single natural gas market. Natural gas is currently used to generate 49% of the New England regional electrical supply, largely replacing oil and coal sources.
However, during high electric demand, coal and oil generators still provide important power services. About 20% of the generators which are turned on only when power demand spikes (eg. during the afternoon of days within a heat wave or during cold spells) are coal or oil powered. They can operate at any time of the day or year and so provide important reliability services, but they are often the most expensive generation systems on the grid. Interestingly, hydro power generation was cut in half between 2000 and 2016, while renewables almost doubled from 5% to 9% of generation capacity. Renewable Portfolio Standards are helping to drive diversification of electricity sources and the percentage of renewables in the electric mix is forecasted to increase. Currently almost 40% of new generator proposals submitted to ISO NE are from renewable sources.
(Note: For week-to-week prices for specific fuels in New Hampshire, please see our Energy Prices page.)
New Hampshire's economy is among the nation's most efficient in energy consumed per dollar of GDP. However, energy costs are a significant part of the economy: In 2013, total expenditures on energy in New Hampshire were approximately 9% of state GDP, or $6.1 billion. This ranks the state at 28th in the country for energy spending as a percentage of GDP.
In 2014 New Hampshire had the second highest energy prices in the country. Much of this spending left the state (over $4.9 billion), as NH imports a significant portion (around 60%)of its primary energy sources. In Graph 7, 100% of the Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Coal categories are imported.
The state imports a large portion of its energy and exports almost $5 billion dollars annually from the economy to pay for energy.
Graph 11 shows New Hampshire's energy spending by fuel. It includes the net costs of electricity in the state. Electrical generators spend money to purchase fuels to create electricity. They then sell the electricity in and out of the state on the regional market which is discussed in section 5A below. When all those earnings are subtracted, as a state, New Hampshire spends a net $1.06 billion on electrical energy (17% of total spending). New Hampshire spends four times that amount on petroleum (70% of total state energy spending). Spending on natural gas (9%), biomass (2%), coal (1%) and nuclear power (1%), round out the energy spending in the state.
Breaking energy expenditures down by sector rather than fuel type, in Graph 12 below, shows that transportation accounts for 48% of energy costs in New Hampshire. All sectors (residential, business and industrial) use transportation to function.
Because New Hampshire is far from popular sources of energy like fossil fuels, and has only recently begun developing local generation capacity that stays in-state, energy costs have traditionally been some of the highest in the nation.
New Hampshire's energy landscape is in an exciting and challenging time of change. Germans have coined the name Energiewende for the Great Energy Transition occurring as countries across the globe shift toward renewable, efficient, distributed, and technologically advanced energy systems. New England continues its tradition of being a technological and economic innovator within the US and New Hampshire is moving forward, but remains susceptible to overreliance on volatile international fuel markets and severe weather patterns that can disrupt both international supplies and local distribution systems.
Implementing the changes necessary to develop resilient and responsive energy systems requires a fundamental re-thinking of the ways we plan and regulate, as well as a willingness to invest now in order to create long-term savings, independence, security and economic opportunity.
In Senate Bill 191 (2013) New Hampshire State Legislators directed the Office of Energy and Planning to work with a newly established Energy Advisory Council to develop a State Energy Strategy for New Hampshire. The Strategy was presented in 2014 and acts a guide for the future of New Hampshire's energy policies and programs.
Directed by the State Energy Strategy, the state is taking a number of steps to reduce the environmental impacts of its energy needs, build energy system resiliency, empower residents and create fair energy pricing. Our goal is an energy system that will support, preserve, and enhance the best aspects of our state. Following the example set by past New Hampshirites, the state supports a balanced, strategic energy design that contributes to our economy through respect, and wise use, of our natural resources:
Key State Initiatives and Resources
5A. A Framework for thinking about energy use within States: Understanding energy production and consumption and how they (don’t) fit together
Looking at energy use and spending within states is complicated because, like many goods, energy is bought and sold across state lines. There are also a number of ways to determine a states' energy use. For example, energy is used to create electricity, which is often then sold across state lines.
According to the US Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA), New Hampshire's total energy consumption in 2013 was about 303 trillion Btu's. This is different than the 386 trillion Btu’s referenced above because New Hampshire sells a net 83 trillion Btu's of electricity out of state.
The EIA adds energy used to create exported electricity to the 'energy-use tally' of the importing state. New Hampshire buys electricity from other states as well, however the net sales add up to New Hampshire exporting a total of 83 trillion Btus. The consumption of those 83 Btu's is recorded in the total consumption tallies of those other states because that is where the final product "electricity" is consumed. So; New Hampshire consumes 303 trillion Btu's per year (386 billion generated in New Hampshire minus the 83 billion net sold to other states as electricity).
Emissions from energy use, however, are attributed to the state where the original power is created. Therefore it is important to understand which figures authors are referencing when they are presenting or referencing energy production and consumption data.
5B. Resources for researching energy in New Hampshire
Links regarding Solar Capacity in New Hampshire
5C. Research 101
Important researcher skills are the ability to:
Keeping some key questions in mind while building a knowledge base helps develop a solid foundation and helps create well-grounded, robust, points of view. Here are some questions to ask as during research:
Where is the information coming from? Is the research peer reviewed? Is the article from a well-respected news entity or institution?
In the academic world, writing can get very specific very quickly, which can make finding general context from academic journals more difficult- it can take many articles to begin to understand a general concept. However, peer reviewed research (research that has been reviewed and deemed of adequate quality by other experts) has to pass certain levels of rigor and is typically accepted as providing well founded information. Similarly, using published papers or books from well-known research institutions or news sources for your research helps make sure the information was gathered with sound methods from experienced researchers. Typically government websites, reports, and statistics are accepted as top quality information.
Are background sources prominently displayed for readers and are they trustworthy/reputable?
When articles or papers do not cite the sources of their “facts”, do not clearly mark the source of data used for figures or graphs, or do not provide their own contact information, those are red flags that the author may be trying to pass along biased information, sell and idea or product, or misinform readers.
Are there other sources that offer different perspectives, counter-points, or alternative possibilities?
Pulling your information from a number of sources, ideally with differing perspectives, can help highlight points of contention around an issue, can help you see the topic from all angles, and can produce ideas that may otherwise be left uncovered. Reviewing facts used by different organizations to discuss a similar topic can help with fact-checking and inform your own source selection. Gathering information from many sources helps you build a deep and robust understanding of your topic that will lead to more informed conversation, more diverse ideas and ultimately better understanding of the topic you are hoping to learn about.
Does the publishing body have an agenda that is framing their reporting? Do you?
Having an agenda does not necessarily mean information is bad (In reality all researchers carry many assumptions and are working from their own perspective; and all research is telling a story). Understanding why and how research was conducted, knowing the reputation and possible perspectives of researchers or journalists, being skeptical, and fact checking can help keep your story grounded in relevant facts, and help you avoid misleading information. Additionally, being aware of your own implicit biases as well as checking your assumptions and their foundations while researching a topic can help strengthen your process.
Who is funding the research or organization?
Knowing who is funding the work can sometimes help determine the trustworthiness of the information. While funding does not necessarily indicate a source is wrongly presenting information, researching the funding sources or owners of the publishing body can help you decide if the information should be taken at face value, especially if reports seem extreme or unfounded. Information comes from a wide variety of sources with a range of interests that impact their information. It is always wise to be open but discerning as a researcher and in your everyday life. Looking at funding and board membership of your sources can help inform you about their possible interests.
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NH Office of Energy and Planning
Governor Hugh J. Gallen State Office Park
Johnson Hall, 3rd Floor | 107 Pleasant Street | Concord, NH 03301
(603) 271-2155 | fax: (603) 271-2615