Dublin considers community power plan

  • Dori Drachman

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/23/2022 12:12:26 PM

Dublin is the next New Hampshire town to discuss the possibility of community power, a concept aimed at lowering energy costs through collective buying power, with the Energy Committee scheduled to meet on Wednesday with a representative of the Cheshire County Electric Aggregation Plan.

Aggregation plans allow local governments to procure power on behalf of their residents, often from an alternative supplier, while still receiving their distribution services from companies like Eversource. Individual towns can write and adopt their own plans – a process that towns like Peterborough and Wilton are engaging in – but the Cheshire County plan would allow any town in the county to join the plan without having to put in the legwork of drafting their own.

Dori Drachman, a member of the Peterborough Community Power Task Force and co-chair of the Monadnock Sustainability Hub, has already met with the Dublin Energy Committee to introduce to them the concept of the Cheshire County plan. She said for smaller towns, joining in with an existing group might make more sense.

“The plan and the details of the plan are already worked out for them. They don’t need to sort out what kind of rate structure they want, or who to choose as a provider, because the county makes those decisions. It’s a piece that’s taken off the shoulders of small towns,” Drachman said.

On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Cheshire County Commissioner Terry Clark is scheduled to attend the monthly meeting of the Dublin Energy Committee. He will present information and answer questions about the proposed Cheshire County Electric Aggregation Plan.

Cheshire Community Power expects to launch an opt-in program to supply electricity within the county. Any resident, business or municipality within Cheshire County can voluntarily opt-in to receive their electricity supply from Cheshire Community Power.

The Cheshire County Plan has yet to be adopted, but is expected to be voted on Dec. 5.

The talks come on the heels of energy price hikes across the state. Currently, the approved six-month energy supply rate in New Hampshire is 22.566 cents per kilowatt-hour for residential customers. Including distribution costs, the cost for a kilowatt-hour increased from about 19 cents to 32 cents as of Aug. 1, resulting in residents across the region seeing a spike in their bills just as the state is entering the coldest and darkest season of the year.

Larger towns such as Peterborough may choose to write their own plans, because it gives them greater control over those same decisions, Drachman said. But, in order to adopt a town-specific plan, the town must approve it during voting at Town Meeting. Joining a county plan is a simpler process, relying on only Select Board approval – though some towns may choose to make it a warrant item, anyway.

Collective buying power can result in lower prices, or more flexibility, such as increasing the amount of renewable-energy sources that are being used.

Also, where providers like Eversource have two set times a year in which to select power providers and set rates, under a community power plan,  participants can manage their purchases whenever they want, allowing the group to buy power  when rates are low.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 60 3-924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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