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New Hampshire   New Hampshire Profile

State Profile and Energy Estimates

Profile AnalysisPrint State Energy Profile
(overview, data, & analysis)

Last Updated: June 21, 2018

Overview

One in 12 New Hampshire households depend on wood products as their primary heating source.

New Hampshire's mountains, rivers, and forests hold plentiful renewable energy resources, but no fossil energy reserves. The state stretches from the Connecticut River, its western border, across the Merrimack River valley eastward to Maine, and south from Canada to Massachusetts.1 Dams on New Hampshire's rivers have provided hydroelectric energy for more than a century.2,3,4 The rugged White Mountains, running the length of the state, are home to the world record for inland wind speed at 231 miles per hour5 and are the site of the nation's first, short-lived attempt to harvest wind resources at a commercial wind farm.6,7 With 81% of its land wooded, New Hampshire is second only to Maine in its percentage of forested land.8 Forest products, including wood pellets for space heating,9,10 are an important part of the state economy11 and the mainstay of New Hampshire's biomass energy industry.12,13,14 One in 12 of the state's households depend on wood as their primary heating source.15

The state's climate is diverse, with cooling Canadian influences in the northwest and warmer, ocean-moderated weather in the southeast.16 New Hampshire has just 18 miles of Atlantic coastline17 with a single deepwater port,18 and the state's population is concentrated in the river valleys and near the coast.19 Traditional manufacturing of textiles has been replaced by advanced electronics manufacturing, which has grown alongside Massachusetts's high technology sector.

The state's proximity to Massachusetts population centers has also fueled growth in tourism to New Hampshire's lakes and mountains, increasing energy use for transportation and for second homes.20,21 One in 10 New Hampshire homes are only seasonally occupied.22 The transportation sector and the residential sector each consume nearly one-third of the energy used in the state. The commercial sector consumes nearly one-fourth, and the industrial sector consumes only about one-eighth.23 New Hampshire's economy ranks among the nation's top 10 most efficient in terms of energy used per dollar of gross domestic product.24

Electricity

Seabrook, the largest nuclear plant by capacity in New England, provides about half of New Hampshire’s net electricity generation.

Most of New Hampshire's net electricity generation comes from five large power plants, which account for about three-fourths of the state's electricity generating capacity.25,26 About half of New Hampshire's actual net electricity generation typically comes from the Seabrook nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear power station in New England based on generating capacity.27,28 Natural gas provides another one-fifth of the state's net electricity generation. Biomass, hydroelectric power, wind, and coal supply nearly all the remaining generation.29 Electricity generation from natural gas-fired power plants increased markedly with the commissioning of two large generating stations in 2002 and 2003.30 New Hampshire is part of the Independent System Operator-New England (ISO-NE) regional electricity grid31 and sends nearly half of the electricity generated in the state to other states.32 As increasing amounts of natural gas are used to generate electricity, in New Hampshire and in New England as a whole, assurance of natural gas supply has become a critical strategic energy issue for the region.33

New Hampshire partially deregulated its electricity sector beginning in the 1990s.34 The state has among the highest retail electricity rates in the nation.35 New Hampshire's electricity use per capita, like most of New England's, is low, in part because of limited demand for air conditioning during the mild summers and because only 1 in 12 households use electricity as a primary energy source for home heating.36,37,38

The state is part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and has used RGGI emission allowance auction proceeds to fund energy efficiency programs and to lower electricity bills through rebates.39 With increased electricity generation from natural gas and renewable energy, in addition to reduced demand because of the economy and efficiency measures, New Hampshire has complied with its RGGI carbon emissions targets.40,41

Renewable energy

About one-fifth of New Hampshire net electricity generation comes from renewable resources, with biomass facilities providing half of that renewable power and hydroelectric and wind facilities generating most of the rest.42 The state has significant additional renewable energy potential, especially from winds along its Atlantic coastline and inland mountain ridges. However, some renewable projects have faced local opposition.43,44,45,46,47

New Hampshire’s wind power exceeded coal-fired generation in both 2016 and 2017.

Most New Hampshire biomass facilities use either methane gas that is generated in municipal landfills or wood and wood waste-derived fuels from the state's forest industry.48,49,50 Many of the state's nearly 100 hydroelectric facilities are small, often less than 1 megawatt. The two largest hydroelectric plants in New England, the 140-megawatt S.C. Moore and the 127-megawatt Comerford hydropower dams,51,52 are located on the Connecticut River along the New Hampshire and Vermont border.53,54,55 The state's biomass generators are, on average, 25 years old, and hydroelectric facilities average 60 years old.56 The state's wind facilities, in contrast, were built in the last decade. New Hampshire's first modern wind farm opened in 2008 and the state has about 200 megawatts of installed wind power capacity.57,58,59,60 In 2016, for the first time, the state obtained more net electricity generation from wind than from coal, and that trend continued in 2017.61

New Hampshire has no net electricity generation from utility-scale solar (1 megawatt or larger).62 However, the state's largest solar facility, the 944-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) solar array at a wastewater treatment plant in the town of Peterborough, comes close.63 Most of the state's solar power comes from distributed (customer-sited, small-scale) solar generation capacity, like rooftop solar PV panels, which totaled about 70 megawatts of installed capacity at the end of 2017.64,65

New Hampshire's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires the state's electricity providers, except for municipal utilities, to have 25% of the electricity sold to their customers generated by renewable energy sources by 2025. About two-thirds of that renewable power must be obtained from sources that started operating after January 1, 2006. Electricity generated by renewable energy in neighboring New England states can be used to comply with the RPS.66,67 There have been recent efforts in the New Hampshire legislature to cut back on the wind and solar generation requirements in the state's RPS.68

In 2012, New Hampshire became the first state to offer RPS credit for renewable thermal projects that deliver energy as heat instead of electricity, such as biomass, solar thermal, and geothermal resources.69 New Hampshire allows net metering of distributed facilities up to 1 megawatt that use eligible renewable, fuel cell, or combined heat and power technologies. In 2016, New Hampshire lawmakers doubled the cap on the amount of distributed capacity eligible for net metering from 50 to 100 megawatts.70

Petroleum

New Hampshire has no petroleum reserves and does not produce or refine petroleum,71,72,73 but petroleum products make up almost half of New Hampshire's energy consumption.74 The state's per capita petroleum consumption from its residential sector is among the highest in the nation, in part because of heavy dependence on heating oil and propane during the state's frigid winters.75,76 Portsmouth, the state's only seaport, has terminal and storage facilities for heating oil, propane, and other refined products. Marine terminals connect with railroad lines and highways to take products inland. Distributors also bring in supplies by rail and by truck from neighboring states.77,78

Refined products are shipped by sea to Portsmouth from Middle Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico refineries79 or are imported, mainly from Canada, with some propane imported from Europe.80 A crude oil pipeline crosses from Maine to Vermont through New Hampshire's northeastern White Mountains: the World War II-era Portland-Montreal Pipeline, which until recently carried crude oil from tanker docks at Portland, Maine, to refineries in Montreal, Canada.81 However, those Canadian refineries are now supplied with crude oil from western Canada, and shipments from Portland have nearly stopped.82 There is a proposal to reverse the flow in that pipeline, and to instead bring crude oil from Canada and North Dakota across New Hampshire to Portland for shipment to refineries elsewhere, but the proposal has encountered opposition.83,84

New Hampshire's transportation sector consumes more petroleum products than any other end-use sector.85 State law requires the use of a biodiesel blend in state vehicles, unless the blend costs more than all-petroleum fuel.86 The state also requires reformulated motor gasoline blended with ethanol to limit ozone formation to be used in the populated counties of southeastern New Hampshire.87

Nearly half of all New Hampshire households rely on fuel oil for heat in the winter.

Nearly half of all New Hampshire households rely on fuel oil as their primary heating fuel,88 making the state particularly vulnerable to distillate fuel oil supply constraints and price spikes during the winter months.89 In a supply emergency, the U.S. Department of Energy could release heating oil from its nearby Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve, which was created by Congress in 2000 to avert supply disruptions. The reserve holds 1 million barrels of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) in storage tanks located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey.90,91 Ultra-low sulfur heating oil replaced high-sulfur heating oil throughout New Hampshire in 2018.92

Natural gas

New Hampshire has no natural gas reserves and does not produce natural gas.93,94 The state receives natural gas by pipelines from Maine, Massachusetts, and Canada. About three-fifths of the natural gas that enters New Hampshire passes through to consumers in Maine or Massachusetts.95

Most of the natural gas consumed in New Hampshire is for electricity generation.

About three-fifths of the natural gas consumed in New Hampshire is used to generate electricity. The rest of the state's natural gas consumption is distributed nearly evenly among the commercial, residential, and industrial sectors.96 One in five New Hampshire households use natural gas as their primary energy source for home heating.97 With substantial differences between natural gas and home heating oil prices in recent years,98 a number of home and business owners switched to natural gas in New Hampshire and throughout New England.99 However, New Hampshire is still among the lowest one-third of states in per capita natural gas consumption,100,101 in part because large areas of the state do not have natural gas distribution infrastructure.102

Coal

New Hampshire has no coal reserves and produces no coal.103,104 Coal is brought into New Hampshire by railroad, usually from Pennsylvania and West Virginia,105,106 and is imported by ship, mainly from South America.107,108 The state has two coal-fired electricity generating stations: Schiller, at Portsmouth, and Merrimack, at Concord.109 The Schiller station has generating units that can burn either coal or petroleum, and one unit that was converted to burn woody biomass in 2006.110,111 Coal's share of New Hampshire electricity generation has declined as the shares of natural gas and biomass have grown.112 In 2017, coal provided under 2% of the state's net electricity generation.113

Endnotes

1 NETSTATE, New Hampshire Geography, updated February 25, 2016.
2 Mooiman, Mike, "Down by the Water—Hydropower in New Hampshire—Part 1" (September 21, 2014).
3 U.S. National Park Service, Lowell National Historical Park, The Merrimack River, accessed May 8, 2018.
4 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), New Hampshire, Profile Overview, Map Legend: Hydroelectric Power Plant, accessed May 8, 2018.
5 Filipov, David, "Record Blown Away But Pride Stays Put," Boston Globe (January 31, 2010).
6 American Wind Energy Association, Turbine Timeline: 1980s, accessed May 15, 2018.
7 Brooks, David, "Remembering the World's First Wind Farm-in New Hampshire," New Hampshire Public Radio (February 24, 2016).
8 New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands, New Hampshire Forest Statistics, accessed May 8, 2018.
9 Evans-Brown, Sam, "Wood Pellets' Swift Rise Tests Supply Chain," New Hampshire Public Radio (December 29, 2014).
10 Biomass Magazine, U.S. Pellet Plants, Operational, New Hampshire (May 17, 2017).
11 North East State Foresters Association, The Economic Importance of New Hampshire's Forest-Based Economy 2013, p. 3, 10-14.
12 Alliance for Green Heat, "2010 Census Shows Wood Is Fastest-Growing Heating Fuel in U.S.," Press Release (October 10, 2011).
13 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Net Generation by State by Type of Producer by Energy Source 1990-2015 (EIA-906, EIA-920, and EIA-923).
14 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Table 1.15.B.
15 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, New Hampshire, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2012-16 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
16 Stampone, Mary, "Is Weather in New Hampshire Really That Bad?" Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, State Climate Series, accessed May 9, 2018.
17 Brooks, David, "How long is the coastline of New Hampshire? It's more complicated than you realize," Concord Monitor (August 16, 2016).
18 Port of New Hampshire-Gateway to the World, The Economic Impact of the Piscataqua River and the Ports of Portsmouth and Newington, Harbor Background (June 2012) p. 5.
19 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census: New Hampshire Profile, accessed May 9, 2018.
20 Norton, Stephen, What is New Hampshire? New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies (2018), p. 1-40.
21 Delay, Dennis, New Hampshire Economic Outlook, New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies (October 15, 2015), p. 1-5.
22 U.S. Census, Historical Census of Housing Tables, New Hampshire, accessed May 25, 2018.
23 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C10, Energy Consumption Estimates by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2015.
24 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C12, Total Energy Consumption Estimates, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Energy Consumption Estimates per Real Dollar of GDP, Ranked by State, 2015.
25 U.S. EIA, New Hampshire Electricity Profile 2016, Table 2, 10 Largest Plants by Generating Capacity, 2016.
26 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Form EIA-860 Detailed Data, 2016 Data, Table 3_1_GeneratorY2016.
27 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, New Hampshire, Net generation for all sectors, annual, 2001-2017.
28 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Operating Nuclear Power Reactors, accessed May 17, 2018.
29 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.4.B, 1.7.B, 1.9.B, 1.10.B, 1.14.B, 1.15.B.
30 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Detailed State Data, Annual Data, 1990-2016 Existing Nameplate and Net Summer Capacity by Energy Source, Producer Type and State (EIA-860).
31 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, New Hampshire, Net generation for all sectors, annual, 2001-2017.
32 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Electric Power Markets: New England (ISO-NE), accessed May 17, 2018.
33 U.S. EIA, State Electricity Profiles, New Hampshire Electricity Profile 2016, Table 10, Supply and disposition of electricity, 1990 through 2016.
34 ISO New England, 2018 Regional Electricity Outlook (February 2018), p. 3‒4.
35 New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, Electric, accessed May 17, 2018.
36 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Table 5.6.B.
37 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Table 5.4.B.
38 U.S. Census Bureau, Quick Facts, New Hampshire, Population estimates, July 1, 2017.
39 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, New Hampshire, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2012-16 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
40 Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, The Investment of RGGI Proceeds in 2015, New Hampshire (October 2017).
41 New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission and Department of Environmental Services, 2017 RGGI Annual Report of the DES and the PUC (October 31, 2017).
42 Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Compliance, accessed May 20, 2018.
43 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, New Hampshire, Net generation for all sectors, annual, 2001-2017.
44 Murray, Maxwell, "Investigation of New Hampshire hydropower potential," University of New Hampshire, Honors Theses and Capstones (Spring 2012).
45 North East State Foresters Association, The Economic Importance of New Hampshire's Forest-Based Economy 2013, p. 13-14.
46 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Wind Energy in New Hampshire, accessed May 17, 2018.
47 Cuno-Booth, Paul, "State's high court shoots down appeal against Antrim Wind; project can go forward," SentinelSource.com (May 12, 2018).
48 Casey, Michael, "New Hampshire committee rejects appeal for Northern Pass power line," Associated Press (May 24, 2018).
49 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B, 1.15.B.
50 Jensen, Chris, "Berlin Biomass Plant Fully Operational, But at What Cost to Taxpayers?" New Hampshire Public Radio (August 21, 2014).
51 AdvanceNH, About Burgess Biopower, accessed May 17, 2018.
52 U.S. EIA, New Hampshire, Profile Overview, Layers/Legend Map, hydroelectric plants, accessed May 26, 2018.
53 New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Chapter 11, Dams, 11.1.1 Dam Classifications, p. 11-2.
54 National Hydropower Association, New Hampshire: Existing Hydropower, accessed May 17, 2018.
55 Mooiman, Mike, "Down by the Water—Hydropower in New Hampshire—Part 1" (September 21, 2014).
56 Granite State Hydropower Association, About Us, accessed May 17, 2018.
57 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Form EIA-860 Detailed Data, 2016 Data, Table 3_1_GeneratorY2016.
58 AvanGrid Renewables, Lempster Wind Power Project, accessed May 17, 2018.
59 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Form EIA-860 Detailed Data, 2016 Data, Table 3_1_GeneratorY2016.
60 American Wind Energy Association, Wind Energy in New Hampshire, accessed May 17, 2018.
61 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 6.3, 6.5.
62 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, New Hampshire, Net generation for all sectors, annual, 2001‒2017.
63 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, New Hampshire, Net generation for all sectors, annual, 2001‒2017.
64 "Peterborough celebrating solar array, largest in state," Associated Press (November 6, 2015).
65 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Table 1.17.B.
66 Solar Energy Industries Association, New Hampshire Solar, accessed May 25, 2018.
67 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, New Hampshire, Renewable Portfolio Standard, updated October 16, 2017.
68 New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, Electric Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), accessed May 18, 2018.
69 Sanders, Bob, "New Hampshire House backs bill to limit renewable energy incentives," NH Business Review (March 2, 2018).
70 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Renewable Portfolio Standard, New Hampshire, updated October 16, 2017.
71 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Net Metering, New Hampshire, updated May 6, 2016.
72 U.S. EIA, Crude Oil plus Lease Condensate Proved Reserves, Reserves Changes, and Production, 2011‒16.
73 U.S. EIA, Crude Oil Production, Annual-Thousand Barrels, 2012-17.
74 U.S. EIA, Refinery Capacity 2017, Table 3, Capacity of Operable Petroleum Refineries by State as of January 1, 2017.
75 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C1, Energy Consumption Overview: Estimates by Energy Source and End-Use Sector, 2015.
76 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C5, Residential Sector Energy Consumption Estimates, 2015.
77 U.S. Census Bureau, Quick Facts, New Hampshire, Population estimates, July 1, 2017.
78 U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Active Fuel Terminals (April 30, 2018), p 1.
79 Magnusson, Matthew, Charles Colgan, and Ross Gittell, The Economic Impact of the Piscataqua River and the Ports of Portsmouth and Newington (June 2012), p. 6.
80 U.S. EIA, Potential Impacts of Reductions in Refinery Activity on Northeast Petroleum Product Markets (May 11, 2012), p. 4.
81 U.S. EIA, Petroleum and Other Liquids, Company Level Imports, imports for New Hampshire, 2016, 2017.
82 Portland Pipe Line Corp., Montreal Pipe Line Ltd., About Us, accessed May 10, 2018.
83 Fishell, Darren, "National Groups Join Legal Battle to Lift South Portland Tar Sands Ban," Bangor Daily News (January 26, 2017).
84 Bouchard, Kelley, "Federal Judge Validates Pipeline's Plan to Reverse Flow to South Portland," Portland Press Herald (August 25, 2017).
85 Harrison, Judy, "South Portland Wins Round in Court Fight over Oil Pipeline," Bangor Daily News (December 29, 2017).
86 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F15, Total Petroleum Consumption Estimates, 2016.
87 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, New Hampshire Laws and Incentives for Biodiesel, accessed May 10, 2018.
88 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gasoline Standards, Programs, Reformulated Gasoline, accessed May 10, 2018.
89 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, New Hampshire, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2012-16 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
90 Andrews, Anthony, The Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve and the National Oilheat Research Alliance, Congressional Research Service 7-5700 (September 19, 2013), Summary.
91 U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy, Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve, accessed May 10, 2018.
92 U.S. EIA, Northeast Reserves, Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserves, accessed May 10, 2018.
93 Clean Oil Heat NH, Ultra-Low Sulfur Heating Oil, accessed May 25, 2018.
94 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Gross Withdrawals and Production, 2012-17.
95 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Reserves Summary as of Dec. 31, Wet Natural Gas, Annual, 2012‒17.
96 U.S. EIA, International and Interstate Movements of Natural Gas by State, New Hampshire, 2011-16.
97 U.S. EIA, U.S. States, Table F19, Natural Gas Consumption Estimates, 2016.
98 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, New Hampshire, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2012-16 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
99 New Hampshire, Office of Energy and Planning, Fuel Prices, Historical Data, Long-term: NH 15-Year Heating Price Trend (October 2000-December 2016), accessed May 11, 2018.
100 U.S. EIA, Short-Term Energy Outlook (October 2017), Table WF01, Number of households by primary space heating fuel.
101 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End Use, Volumes Delivered to Consumers, Annual, 2012-17.
102 U.S. Census Bureau, Quick Facts, New Hampshire, Population estimates, July 1, 2017.
103 New Hampshire Public Service Commission, Natural Gas and Steam Utilities in New Hampshire, Communities Served Map, accessed May 11, 2018.
104 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2016 (November 2017), Table 1, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, and Table 15, Recoverable Coal Reserves at Producing Mines, Estimated Recoverable Reserves, and Demonstrated Reserve Base by Mining Method.
105 U.S. EIA, U.S. Coal Reserves, U.S. Coal Resource Regions (November 15, 2017).
106 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2016 (November 2017), New Hampshire, Domestic Coal Distribution, by Destination State, 2016.
107 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report, Archive, Domestic distribution of U.S. coal by distribution state, consumer, destination and method of transportation, 2015, 2014, New Hampshire.
108 Union of Concerned Scientists, "Burning Coal, Burning Cash—New Hampshire's Dependence on Imported Coal" (May 2010).
109 Parker, Mario, "Hungry U.S. Power Plant Turns to Russia for Coal Shipment," Bloomberg (July 16, 2014).
110 U.S. EIA, New Hampshire, Profile Overview, Layers/Legend Map, coal power plants, accessed May 16, 2018.
111 Power Technology, Wood Chip Burning Plant, Schiller Station, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, accessed May 16, 2018.
112 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Form EIA-860 Detailed Data, 2015 Data, Table 3_1_GeneratorY2016.
113 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, New Hampshire, Net generation for all sectors, annual, 2001-17.
114 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.4.B.