CONCORD – Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto Monday of SB 159 on net metering for customer-generators was praised in his own party and panned by Democrats who accused him of going back on his word.
Sununu said it was nearly identical to two bills that were previously vetoed and sustained.
“The proponents of this bill claim to have made a compromise, when in fact it still would result in hundreds of millions of dollars in higher electric rates for our citizens,” Sununu said in his veto message.
Hardest hit, Sununu said, would be low-income families and seniors.
“I am committed to funding a true compromise,” Sununu said. He said he has worked with legislators to propose new legislation that expands access to net metering for cities, towns, and businesses and still lower their electric bills. Sununu didn’t include any specifics.
Rep. Bob Backus, D-Manchester, chairman of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee, said it was a bipartisan bill aimed at encouraging the development of home-grown, small-scale renewable energy in New Hampshire. It was sponsored by Rep. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro.
“It is disheartening that the governor has again rejected bipartisan, compromise legislation that would expand renewable energy here in New Hampshire. Following the governor’s veto of a similar bill last year, lawmakers and advocates made changes to address his concerns,” Backus said.
House Republican Leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack, sent an email saying New Hampshire has some of the highest energy costs in the nation, and a majority of Republicans are committed to not support public policy that would put upward pressure on electricity rates.
“We believe providing a level playing field in the energy market will provide the best outcome for ratepayers. I fully support Governor Sununu’s decision to veto this government mandate that would artificially raise the cost of electricity, and ultimately hurt low- and fixed- income citizens the most,” Hinch said.
After the veto, state Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord, said: “Gov. Sununu spent 2019 vetoing bipartisan clean energy legislation, including net metering. Today, he continued his anti-environmental crusade by vetoing a bipartisan compromise on net metering that was sponsored by a Republican.”
Senate Energy Committee Chair Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, added, “Sununu has a long history of saying one thing on camera and then doing the exact opposite with his veto pen. That’s exactly what happened with this bipartisan net metering bill, which made significant concessions to alleviate the governor’s purported concerns.”