Greenfield Rehabilitation Center Saves Energy and Avoids Fossil Fuel Pollution with RGGI grant

Media Contacts
Jessica O'Hare

invests $27 million in clean energy statewide, contributes to economic growth

Environment New Hampshire

Greenfield, NH—Grants from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are helping local businesses and homeowners invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy—cutting pollution, curbing dependence on fossil fuels, and fostering pioneering clean energy approaches, according to a report released today by Environment New Hampshire. Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center can provide lower cost, reliable heat to its rehabilitation patients, because a RGGI grant made the connection between one of its residential facilities and its new biomass plant possible.

Environment New Hampshire’s new report, A Program that Works: How the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is Helping the Northeast Shift to Clean Energy and Reduce Pollution from Fossil Fuels; the program has led to more than $27 million in clean energy investments leading to almost $95 million in energy savings and contributing $163 million in economic growth statewide (from Table 1).

“RGGI has been a key part of New Hampshire’s plan to reduce pollution and move toward clean energy,” said Jessica O’Hare.  “Pulling out of RGGI would be a tragic retreat on New Hampshire’s clean energy leadership,” said O’Hare.

New Hampshire took a decisive step on clean energy when it entered into RGGI to limit carbon pollution from power plants. The program took full effect in 2008, becoming the first cap on global warming pollution implemented anywhere in the United States. Two and a half years later, RGGI is successfully sparking investments in clean energy solutions in the region and demonstrating the workability of a program that helps clean up power plant emissions and that invests the money in measures that will reduce emissions and promote local clean energy.  

In Greenfield, the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center replaced a failing steam heat system with a hydronic system in a 12,800 ft2 mixed use building for low-income occupants. The RGGI grant allowed Crotched Mountain to connect the building to a state-of-the art central district heating system that uses wood chips harvested locally from New Hampshire forests.

As a result of the project, the building realized a reduction from 25,000 gallons per year of #2 fuel oil to the equivalent of 6,000 gallons supplied by the district heat. Each occupant now has had every old steam heating unit replaced with new hot water units each fitted with an individual control.  There is no overheating, windows remain closed, and occupants are reporting they are very comfortable. The RGGI grant was matched with $75 thousand contributed by Crotched Mountain towards this project.

Chief Operating Officer, Michael Redmond said, “our residents now enjoy comfortable, regulated heat, from an efficient system fueled by wood from a nearby family-run business.” “By switching from oil to biomass,” continued Redmond, “we’ve also reduced greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions. This is important given the fragile health conditions of our patients. The RGGI grant also enabled us to save resources and cut costs while also supporting a local business with sustainable fuel purchases.”

Last year, the New Hampshire Legislature voted to repeal the cornerstone clean energy program. Out of state industry groups, led by the well-financed Americans for Prosperity, have launched an aggressive campaign including radio ads in an effort to convince our legislators to pull out of the program. The repeal attempt failed with the veto from Governor John Lynch, and the stalwart support of nine clean energy champions in the state senate. Senate President Peter Bragdon was among the supporters of RGGI.

A repeal bill has been filed again in the New Hampshire legislature, and groups like Americans for Prosperity will attempt to scuttle this important program once more. “The efforts of out of state, special interest groups failed last year, and we have the public support necessary to keep New Hampshire a clean energy leader,” said Jessica O’Hare of Environment New Hampshire.

The report asserts that by maintaining and improving RGGI, using its funds wisely, and implementing complementary policies that support its clean energy goals, New Hampshire can build on RGGI’s success and maintain their leadership in the march towards clean energy.

Specifically, the RGGI states should:
•    Strengthen RGGI’s cap on carbon emissions. . A stronger cap will allow RGGI to function better as an incentive to move to cleaner energy sources and improve the states’ ability to make clean energy investments. 
•    Invest all RGGI funds to clean energy programs.  Investing in energy efficiency and clean energy measures will provide energy bill relief to customers large and small and make achieving the environmental goals of the program easier. 
•    Consider expanding RGGI to include additional states. RGGI has proven itself as a framework for capping pollution and funding clean energy. One of the best ways to build on that success would be to bring additional states on board with the effort. RGGI has inspired the creation of similar initiatives in other parts of the country.