July / 2017

NHSEA Works Across the Aisle to Strengthen New Hampshire’s Clean Tech Industry

The New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association is the oldest and largest member-based nonprofit dedicated to improving New Hampshire’s clean energy economy.

The John Merck Fund began supporting the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association (NHSEA) in 2013, when its talented board chair, Kate Epsen, took the helm as executive director. Thanks in large part to Kate’s skills at coalition building and coordination, NHSEA is now seen as a hub for innovative energy initiatives across New Hampshire and boasts a diverse membership of hundreds of businesses and individuals. Its New Hampshire Clean Tech Council represents seventeen different economic sectors, and the council’s top priorities are strengthening the clean tech industry and promoting an innovative, stable, long-term clean tech policy that attracts new jobs, young professionals, and new investment.

In 2016, NHSEA focused on educating policymakers about the benefits of raising the state’s cap on net metering. Governor Hassan signed legislation raising the cap in August 2016. NHSEA was also a major stakeholder in the development of New Hampshire’s new Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which sets statewide efficiency targets and will go into effect in 2018. In addition to this policy work, NHSEA also hosts many events and workshops and provides technical assistance to its members, and in October will host the ninth annual Local Energy Solutions Conference.

Executive Director Kate Epsen enjoys the variability of her job and relishes the challenge of building relationships with a diverse set of stakeholders that includes representatives from both sides of the political aisle, as well as both climate skeptics and fervent believers. As she puts it, “Working on energy in New Hampshire isn’t like working on it in Vermont, California, or Massachusetts. You need to be able to communicate with colleagues who at times have strongly divergent viewpoints, and to find creative ways to collectively move forward. It’s more challenging, but it’s also inspiring that headway can be made in ways you can’t always foresee.”