New Hampshire's 1996 electric-industry restructuring legislation authorized the creation of a system benefits charge (SBC) to support energy-efficiency programs and energy-assistance programs for low-income residents. The efficiency fund, which took effect in 2002, is funded by a non-bypassable surcharge of 1.8 mills per kilowatt-hour ($0.0018/kWh) on electric bills. A separate surcharge of 1.5 mills per kWh ($0.0015/kWh) supports low-income energy assistance programs. Approximately $19 million is collected annually to support the efficiency fund, although the annual sum collected has varied in recent years due to changes in the surcharge rate. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved several "core" energy-efficiency programs that receive SBC funding. All efficiency programs are administered by the state's utilities, with oversight from the PUC.
In addition, New Hampshire enacted legislation (H.B. 1490) in June 2012 converting the state's greenhouse gas emissions fund into an energy efficiency fund. As a result, certain proceeds received by the state from emissions auction proceeds will be allocated as an additional source of funding to electric distribution companies for core energy efficiency programs that are funded by SBC funds. It is unclear how much funding will be generated by auction proceeds.
Commercial programs funded by the SBC generally support new construction and major renovations, lighting upgrades, occupancy sensors, controls, air conditioning improvements, programmable thermostats, efficient motors, variable-frequency drives, energy-management systems, LED traffic lights, and custom projects. Residential programs funded by the SBC support Energy Star lighting and appliances, Energy Star new home construction, insulation, thermostats, and other efficiency measures. SBC programs for qualified low-income residents provide funding for insulation, thermostats, lighting upgrades and efficient refrigerators.
The PUC reports the results and effectiveness of the SBC annually to the state’s Legislative Oversight Committee on Electric Restructuring. These annual reports are available on the PUC's web site.