Page 23 - DEC2022
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December 2022
The Case for Residential Solar
Page 23
 By paul Bemis
Bristol Energy Committee
At the annual Bristol Town Meeting in March of 2023, resi- dents will be voting on a Warrant Article, put forth by the Bristol Energy Committee, that elim- inates the current property tax associated with the installation of residential solar panels. We will be asking for your support to approve this Warrant Article for several reasons.
For most, the primary mo- tive for residential solar is the current cost of electricity. The Public Utilities Commission in the State of New Hampshire has just approved a 100% increase in the cost of electricity for all four of the state’s electric utility providers. Rooftop solar arrays are one of the lowest-cost energy sources available, and costs will continue to come down as wide- spread deployment occurs. The average cost of electricity from a rooftop solar array is 6-8 cents
per kilowatt-hour. Today’s equiv- alent cost for residential power is 17 cents per kilowatt-hour, and that does not include “trans- mission and distribution” costs, which adds another 12 cents to every kilowatt consumed. The great advantage of rooftop solar is that when the sun is shining, and producing electricity that can be consumed by your home, the transmission and distribution costs are eliminated, thus reduc- ing the cost by a factor of up to 5 times.
Another major incentive for rooftop solar is the reduction in dependency on fossil fuels and their related impact on our planet. Fossil fuel-based power generation represents over 50% of the total power generated in New England. The increased use of residential solar can signifi- cantly reduce this high percent- age. It also lays the foundation for energy independence in our homes. By adding battery storage to a solar array, a homeowner can
store energy generated by the sun during the day and use it at night, on cloudy days, or when a major power outage occurs. It also opens the door to becoming an energy producer, and selling back stored energy to the power grid during periods of high demand. Programs like this have been suc- cessfully implemented by Green Mountain Power in Vermont, and are currently being piloted here in NH by Liberty Utilities.
But the single most important reason for supporting the Bristol Solar Tax Exception Warrant Article is that it is the right thing to do. During the dedication of
the new town solar array that powers our wastewater treatment facility, I spoke about the words “tradition” and “progress” that are shown on the Town of Bris- tol emblem used in all forms of communications. Bristol has a proud tradition of energy inde- pendence dating back to the late 1800s when all electricity for the town was provided by three hydro dams on the Newfound River. Since then, we have become be- holden to large energy corpora- tions who often care more about their shareholders than their cus- tomers. It is time to implement policies that get our community
closer to the Bristol tradition of energy independence.
Progress is represented by our willingness as a community to take steps to improve the lives of our citizens. This progress can be seen in our beautiful re- constructed Central Square, our new town library, and our newly constructed Bristol Falls Park. It is also evident in the continual improvement of the cost/per- formance benefit of photovoltaic solar arrays. Residential solar represents an opportunity for us to improve the lives of our citi- zens by encouraging the deploy- ment of residential solar, and join a community of over 50 towns in NH who have made the same choice. Providing a tax exception for residential solar will encour- age more residents to implement solar, thereby reducing the cost to not only them and others around them, while taking a significant next step towards returning to our tradition of energy indepen- dence.
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