February 15, 2016
Building and fire codes,
private roads and net metering
By Bob Quinn
Government Affairs Director, NH REALTORS®
Here are a few items being explored in the New Hampshire legislature that are of potential interest to the real estate community and being watched closely by your New Hampshire REALTORS government affairs team:
NHAR expresses concerns with building and fire codes
Various bills have been introduced in the legislature to update NH building codes to the newer 2015 international codes (HB 80, HB 92, HB 168). NHAR has expressed concerns that the updates might alter when a remodeling or renovation project would require the entire dwelling to be brought up to certain codes – and that would have significant impact on the cost of certain renovations. NHAR also raised objections that homes built prior to 1979 are currently exempt from certain provisions of the energy code but that exemption would be eliminated in House Bill 80.
The House Executive Departments and Administration has thus far not taken action of these bills.
Maintenance of private roads and Fannie Mae mortgages
Fannie Mae refuses to take a residential mortgage for a dwelling on a private road where the owner does not have a signed maintenance agreement with other property owners on that road. However, Fannie will waive that requirement if a state statute exists which allocates responsibility of the road’s maintenance. HB 181 would add such language to NH statute and therefore clear the way for Fannie-backed mortgages on private roads. Vermont and Connecticut already have such language in their statutes.
A similar bill failed in the 2016 NH legislative session.
Net metering for residential solar is not over yet
Last year, a new law expanded the cap on net metering, a system in which solar panels are connected to a public-utility power grid and surplus power is transferred onto the grid, allowing customers to offset their own utility bill. That same law ordered the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to begin developing an “alternative net metering tariff” – basically the rate the consumer can offset their excess energy back to the grid for a reduction in their bill.
The intent was for the PUC to complete its work by March of 2017 but that dates has been pushed back to a target date of June 2, 2017.
HB 518 would have short-circuited the PUC process and set the tariff at the rate the utilities want but which would make solar energy cost-prohibitive for many residential and commercial entities. That bill has been tabled to allow the PUC to complete its work.