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2014 News

News items from 2014 related to energy and planning.

Date Title

Lower crude oil prices further reduce expected spending on heating oil this winter

In its December Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA expects that average heating oil expenditures by households that use oil as their primary heating fuel during the 2014-15 winter will be 27% ($632) below last winter's expenditures. Heating oil prices have declined with crude oil prices, and EIA expects U.S. heating oil prices to average $3.09 per gallon (gal) this winter, 20% lower than last winter, and 15% lower than expected in the October Winter Fuels Outlook (Table 1).


2014 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report pdf file

The 2014 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report is the fourth annual report released by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) on the size, scope, and nature of the Commonwealth's clean energy industry.


Commercial-PACE Financing Moves Forward, New Hampshire Town and City, September/October 2014, By Laura Richardson

New Hampshire's legislature overwhelmingly supported improvements to existing but ineffective enabling legislation originally passed in 2010, and in statute under RSA 53-F. Many believe that House Bill (HB) 532, relative to energy efficiency and clean energy districts, will provide a much-needed tool for businesses to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.


The Best Planning Tool You Aren't Using: Capital Improvements Plans, New Hampshire Town and City, September/October 2014, By C. Christine Fillmore

Although it is a tool many larger communities have been using for years, a capital improvements program (CIP) can be useful and valuable for even very small communities. Essentially, it is a prioritized list of anticipated large expenses. The threshold of what a "large expense" is and the details of what is needed may vary from municipality to municipality, but the process, the governing law and its usefulness are the same across the state.


Big Homes, Smaller Households - An Assessment of Housing Needs in New Hampshire pdf file, Ben Frost, Esq., AICP - NH Housing, November 2014

In the decades before the Great Recession, New Hampshire's housing market was a major driver in the state's expanding economy. But with recent shifts in the state's demographic and economic trends, New Hampshire's current housing infrastructure could end up becoming a drag on future economic growth and stability.


Rooftop Solar Challenge II – Model Permitting and Zoning for Residential Solar PV in New Hampshire – Stakeholder Meeting - November 17, 2014 pdf file

The NH Office of Energy and Planning (NH OEP), with Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont, is participating in a regional grant awarded to the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) by the U.S. Department of Energy to lower the "soft costs" associated with residential rooftop solar PV systems. New Hampshire will focus on reducing the costs related to residential permitting and zoning and the utility interconnection process, and we need your input.


Wapack Regional Energy Network (WREN) Forum November 15, 2014 pdf file

Can you help our region become more energy independent? How can you help save millions of energy dollars locally? Will you help to make this happen? YES! Come to the WREN Forum to learn how. Walk-ins are welcome but please register in advance. Five presenters will give WREN Talks (short TED-style talks) highlighting the energy related projects they have accomplished or are working on, each followed by a brief Q&A. Afterwards you will have the opportunity to learn more as those speakers will participate in roundtable discussions to provide in-depth details and to answer more of your questions. You will have a chance to discuss the projects that interest you and connect with others who are likeminded, to collaborate on local or regional projects, sharing resources and ideas for implementing similar projects in our region and respective towns. Details about our presenters will be on our website: www.WapackREN.org


Who is using NH's Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive?

Since 2006, New Hampshire towns and cities have had the option of adopting the Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive, found in state law at NH RSA 79-E. Designed to encourage economic activity while preserving the unique historic and cultural character of towns and villages, the incentive offers property owners a break on their property taxes if they redevelop an under-utilized property. This past fall, a group of graduate students in Plymouth State University's Historic Preservation Program took a close look at the incentive and asked who was using it and to what degree?

Their results are now available in an online report, A Tool for Your Town: New Hampshire's Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive pdf file. The report explains the incentive process, tallies which New Hampshire towns and cities have adopted it, and highlights success stories in Berlin, Concord, Nashua and Somersworth. It also identifies common challenges for communities and developers and offers a series of recommendations for expanding the incentive's use. "The students' research showed that many towns, cities and developers are unaware of the value of the community revitalization incentive," said Professor Elizabeth Muzzey, who is also the State Historic Preservation Officer. "Their report will hopefully go a long way in changing that."

Drew Bedard, Martha Cummings, Alison Keay and Joanna Synder authored the report as part of their coursework in Plymouth's Historic Preservation Program.


2015 Zoning Amendment Calendars

2015 zoning amendment calendars have been created for traditional and official ballot (SB2) towns with March or May town meetings.


National Bioenergy Day

The second annual National Bioenergy Day is October 22, 2014. In recognition of National Bioenergy Day, the New Hampshire Wood Energy Council is sponsoring six tours of modern wood heating sites across New Hampshire throughout the week of October 20. Tours are located within one hour's drive to anyone in the state, regardless of where you live. Each tour will include multiple stops, featuring advanced wood chip, wood pellet and logwood heating systems of commercial and institutional buildings.

Tours are open to the public, but advance registration is required. For a list of tours and information on registration please visit their website.


Important Changes to Notice Requirements for Proposed Zoning Amendments

Chapter 161 of the 2014 Laws (HB 1210) makes a significant change, effective immediately, to the notice requirements for hearings on proposed zoning amendments. For the first time, municipalities will be required to notify individual property owners about hearings on zoning amendments, although the new requirements will apply only in limited circumstances.


PUC posts information on managing utility bills this winter

Projections for natural gas and electricity prices for the upcoming winter suggest that prices will be higher than last winter. Finding ways to reduce your natural gas and electricity consumption can help you better manage potentially higher utility bills this winter. Budget billing and other payment options are also available as well as assistance programs for low-income households. Take a few minutes to review the information below and be prepared for winter.


Governor Hassan's Statement on the New Hampshire Energy Strategy

CONCORD – Following the delivery of the New Hampshire Energy Strategy by the Office of Energy and Planning, Governor Maggie Hassan released the following statement:

"Our businesses and families need reliable, affordable energy in order to continue to grow and prosper. Developed through a thorough public process, the New Hampshire Energy Strategy proposes concrete ways to help reduce energy costs, create jobs, protect our natural resources and improve reliability and diversity. I want to thank the Office of Energy and Planning, the State Energy Advisory Council and legislators from both parties, as well as all of the businesses and private citizens who participated in the process, for their important work to develop a critically needed energy strategy for our state. It will take continued bipartisan cooperation to implement the recommendations set out in the strategy, so that we can reduce costs and build a brighter energy future for our families, businesses and economy."


OEP delivers New Hampshire Energy Strategy pursuant to RSA 4:E

Senate Bill 191 of 2013 requires the Office of Energy and Planning (OEP), in consultation with the State Energy Advisory Council and with public input, to prepare a 10-year energy strategy for the State. OEP and the Council benefited from the hundreds of oral and written public comments as we developed recommendations to guide decision-making about New Hampshire's energy future. OEP also contracted with Navigant Consulting, Inc. for technical and analytical assistance.


A New Approach to Project Review in Laconia pdf file

On June 3rd the Laconia Planning Board voted unanimously to adopt a new procedure for reviewing site plan applications by means of a unique scoring system that promotes good design and serves as a kind of pre-flight checklist for developers. Applicants can now pick up a guideline book and a detailed scoring sheet that tallies up everything from parking arrangements to trim details and allows trade-offs to arrive at the best buildable solution.

(Read the full article in the July/August issue of NHForum pdf file, the newsletter of the NH Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.)


The Office of Energy and Planning (OEP) will conduct a public hearing to accept testimony and comments on the State of New Hampshire's State Plan for: Low Income Home Energy Assistance Block Grant (LIHEAP).

This grant is effective for the fiscal year October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015.

Date: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Time: 10:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.
Location: Office of Energy and Planning
107 Pleasant Street
Johnson Hall
Concord, NH 03301-8519


Those persons wishing to present testimony for LIHEAP should notify the Office of Energy and Planning, 107 Pleasant Street, Johnson Hall, Concord, NH 03301, in advance and submit a copy of the testimony. A copy of the proposed plan for LIHEAP may be obtained by contacting OEP, or may be viewed at the location on the day of the hearing. Please contact [email protected] at OEP, (603) 271-2155 for further information regarding LIHEAP.

(Published in the New Hampshire Union Leader on Aug. 14, 15, 17)


The Trust for Public Land Has Released the New Hampshire Return On Investment in Land Conservation Study

The Trust for Public Land conducted an economic analysis of the return on New Hampshire's investment in land conservation through a variety of state programs that funded land acquisition statewide, and found that every $1 invested in land conservation returned $11 in natural goods and services to the New Hampshire economy. In addition, land conservation funded by the State of New Hampshire supports key industries that depend on the availability of high-quality protected land and water. New Hampshire has also been successful in leveraging funding support from federal, local, and private sources, expanding the impact of the state's investment. This report presents a summary of the key findings and the benefits of open space investments in the state.

6/2/2014 Public Meetings on the Draft State Energy Strategy pdf file
Senate Bill 191 of 2013 required OEP, in consultation with the State Energy Advisory Council, to develop a strategy "to ensure that the state's energy policies and programs support the state's economic, environmental, and public health goals."

Local Energy Work Group Launches EnergyBenchmarkNH.org to Help NH Communities Track & Utilize Energy Consumption Data

Benchmarking or tracking your municipality or school's energy use is an important first step in developing a plan to reduce costs, and ENERGY STAR's new Portfolio Manager software makes it easier than ever to build a baseline of energy use. Learn more, join BenchmarkNH and learn how communities are leveraging their energy data.


UNH Updates Coastal Flood Hazard Maps for NH Communities

DURHAM, N.H. –– Based on work conducted by the University of New Hampshire, coastal New Hampshire communities in Strafford and Rockingham counties have received updated preliminary flood hazard maps as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) nationwide program to update coastal flood hazard maps.


Weatherization Assistance Program Annual Plan - Notice of Public Hearing - May 12, 2014, 2:00PM

The Office of Energy and Planning (OEP) will conduct a public hearing on the State's Weatherization Assistance Program Annual Plan to be filed with the US Department of Energy (DOE). Upon approval by DOE, the Plan will be in effect from April 1, 2014, through March 31, 2015. Written testimony may be sent to:

Office of Energy and Planning
107 Pleasant St.
Concord, NH 03301

Written testimony must be received by OEP by the opening of the Public Hearing, which will be held on:

May 12, 2014, at 2:00 PM at the Office of Energy and Planning, 107 Pleasant St. 3rd floor Conference Room, Concord, NH 03301

THIS LOCATION IS HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE. Copies of the proposed plan may be downloaded from the Weatherization Assistance Program or obtained by calling the Office of Energy and Planning, and will be available at the hearing. For more information contact OEP at 271-2155.


Alert to Liberty Utilities Customer: Historic Data Expiring

If you are a customer of Liberty Utilities who has been thinking about benchmarking your building's energy usage, the time to act is now! On May 23, Liberty will be transitioning their database systems, and historic usage data will be lost.


Shifting Demographics Challenge New Hampshire's Housing Market, Study Finds

Changes in how the population views homeownership, a mismatch between existing housing and housing preferences, and obstacles to creating a balanced housing market may pose challenges for New Hampshire's future, a study finds.


UNH Reports: New Hampshire Getting Warmer, Wetter as Climate Changes

DURHAM, N.H. – As heat-trapping gases from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, average annual temperatures in New Hampshire will likely rise by 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit and extreme precipitation events will likely double by mid-century, according to two University of New Hampshire reports released today.


Commercial & Industrial Bulk Fuel-Fed Wood Pellet Central Heating Systems

This program offers a rebate payment of 30% of the heating appliance(s) and installation cost, up to a maximum of $50,000, for investments in non-residential bulk-fuel fed wood pellet boilers and furnaces of 2.5 million BTU or less, that become operational, serving designed intent and installer-certified on or after December 18, 2013. Additionally, a rebate of 30% up to $5,000 is available for thermal storage tanks and related components. This program is open to businesses, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, governmental or municipal entities, or multi-family residences of 4 units or greater, that do not qualify for a rebate under the residential wood pellet rebate program.

See additional Renewable Energy Rebates.


Building Operator Certification Training with a 50% Tuition Award pdf file

Lakes Region Community College is again offering its 8-day Building Operator Certification class running every other Friday from February 14 through May 23, 2014. Experienced facilities management staff who successfully complete this program are awarded the nationally recognized Building Operator Level I Certification.

New Hampshire customers of PSNH, Unitil, NHEC or Liberty Utilities are eligible to receive a 50% scholarship, reducing the tuition from $1,480 to $740. Please reply for registration details. If you miss this one, the next twice-yearly LRCC BOC class is planned for August 2014.


Network New Hampshire Now

This exciting project will ensure that residents of 10 counties in New Hampshire will be able to plug into a powerful future with Internet connectivity. Network New Hampshire Now was funded by $44.5 million in economic stimulus money and matched with $18.3 million in private and in-kind funding. See the project video.


State Opens Hotline for Fred Fuller Customers
Customers Who Are in Imminent Danger of Running Out of Home Heating Oil Can Call 603-227-0002

CONCORD – In response to the increasing concern from customers of Fred Fuller Oil Co. who have not been able to receive scheduled heating oil deliveries, Governor Maggie Hassan announced today that the state has established a 24/7 emergency hotline for residents who are in imminent danger of running out of home heating oil.

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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