New Hampshire Bill HB 585

In February 2009 a bipartisan group of five New Hampshire legislators (the maximum allowed) introduced bill HB 585, titled "Outdoor Lighting Efficiency Act of 2009." The text of the bill is here, and a helpful background document is here.

NELPAG member Robert Gillette reports that the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, Sierra Club, International Dark-Sky Association (NH chapter), Carbon Coalition, and New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (the state's second-largest utility) support the bill. Support has also come from such wide-ranging sources as the state-sponsored McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center and New Hampshire’s association of regional planning commissions, representing the professional voice of town planning.

At a public hearing before the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee on March 3rd, the bill received strong endorsements from NELPAG and IDA, conservation groups, and the Electric Cooperative utility. Two of the state’s three other utilities — Public Service of New Hampshire and National Grid — representing just over 80% of the state’s customer base, took a neutral position on the bill.

In addition, Public Utilities Commission staff testified that one of HB 585’s provisions, calling for development of “midnight service” to permit installation of timers to turn off non-essential streetlights late at night to save half the energy they consume, is feasible and the PUC will pursue the idea.

After being approved by the committee by a 19-0 vote on March 19th, the state's House of Representatives adopted HB 585 on March 24th by unanimous voice vote. The bill then moved to the Senate for a hearing on April 30th before the Energy, Environment and Economic Development Committee, where the testimony of NELPAG members Robert Gillette and Kelly Beatty was well received. The committee voted 5-0 to report the bill as "Ought to Pass," and that's just what happened when the bill reached the Senate floor on May 6th.

On July 15th New Hampshire governor John Lynch signed HB 585 into law. It took effect 60 days later. New Hampshire joins Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine as the New England states with outdoor-lighting regulations.

For more information about HB 585, contact Robert Gillette ( gillett@attglobal.net ).