Temple looks at community power program

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/13/2023 11:13:58 AM

Temple is preparing to take its first steps toward a community power model, after Select Board members heard more details about the program from a representative of Clean Energy New Hampshire during their meeting on Tuesday.

John Kondos of Clean Energy and members of the town’s Renewable Energy Task Force appeared before the board to discuss the community power model, and the process for Temple to adopt a community power plan.

Community power is a model where groups – including towns – can pool their buying power to negotiate for better power costs. Eversource negotiates power prices at two set times each year, but the community power model allows more flexibility, allowing groups to lock in prices when they are down. Community power plans also often offer options for greater amounts of energy to be provided from renewable sources.

Kondos, on behalf of the Renewable Energy Task Force, outlined the process for joining the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire, an existing community power collective which includes a total of 38 towns either enrolled or in the planning stages, including Hancock and Peterborough locally.

The rates set for Eversource as of Aug. 1 are anticipated to be 12.582 cents per kilowatt hour, Kondos said. In comparison, the CPCNH rates for the same amount of renewables as required of Eversource is 10.9 cents. CPCNH also offers three options for extra energy sourced from renewables, at 33%, 50% and 100%. Only the total renewably sourced option is more expensive than Eversource’s price.

Kondos explained that while the energy source would be different under community power, delivery would be the same. Eversource would still respond to pole damage or power outages, and customers would continue to get billing and customer support from Eversource.

Community power programs often operate on an “opt-out” model, where residents will have an opportunity at the start of the program to decline to join, and can pull out at any time, but if they do not opt out, they are automatically enrolled. Prior to launching the program, the town must hold at least two public information sessions and the plan must be approved at Town Meeting.

Those with solar panels who are selling power to the grid are advised not to join a community power program at this time, Kondos said, as currently, community power programs can’t properly credit them for the power they’re producing. 

Rob Wills of the town’s Renewable Energy Task Force outlined the coming steps for the town, if they wished to pursue a community power model. He said the first step is to join the coalition joint powers agency, which includes the Select Board voting to adopt a joint powers agreement, which is a contract and bylaws of the coalition.

This step of the process does not obligate the town to follow through the the rest of the process, but will allow the committee to move forward.

Wills said the Select Board would be provided a copy of the agreement to review themselves and send to counsel if they wished.

The town is also required, by law, to appoint a community power committee to prepare an electric aggregation plan, and provide community information about it. Wills suggested “adding a hat” to the Renewable Energy Task Force by making its members the committee.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertran script.com. She’s on X @AshleySaariMLT.

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