Temple hosts information session on community power

Town of Temple.

Town of Temple. —COURTESY PHOTO


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 12-11-2023 11:49 AM

Modified: 12-11-2023 1:58 PM

As towns in the Monadnock region and New England towns become community power municipalities, Temple hosted an informational session Wednesday to answer questions and provide background for the community.

Community power allows towns to pool the buying power of residents to purchase electricity from a supplier at a discounted rate, potentially lowering their costs and providing options to receive more energy from renewable sources. The next step for Temple would be to form a community power committee, which would develop an energy aggregation plan (EAP) to be presented at a Town Meeting.

Only after the passage of the EAP and the approval of the state would a town officially adopt community power. Any individual household may opt out of community power, but there must be enough buyers remaining to effectively negotiate with suppliers.

Andrew Hatch, outreach coordinator for the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire (CPCNH), fielded questions from the in-person and streaming audience. Hatch explained that there is no cost to join the CPC, and participation alone is enough for the organization to operate.

“There’s no cost to a municipality, and in fact no liability to the municipality to engage in community power. All of the costs of maintaining and running the program are paid for out of the revenues that come from the participation of customers, so there’s no money involved in this decision on behalf of the Town of Temple,” said Hatch.

In addition to negotiating rates for electricity, municipalities can also express their desire for renewable energy. Hatch emphasized this point by using the examples of Plainfield and Hanover, two towns that have committed to being 100% renewable by 2030. The support of local renewables would need to be a priority of the municipality, and would be reflected in the EAP submitted by the town.

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Both questions from the audience pertained to being able to opt out of the process and whether or not CPCNH would have access to a household’s personal contract with Eversource or any other electricity supplier.

Hatch explained that the CPC would never have access to an individual’s account information with their current supplier. Rather, they would have a CPCNH account number that they would use to communicate.

“If you want to do something with getting in or or opting out, all you need to do is have an account number to call the community power coalition’s call center. So you’re not sharing your account number with everybody,” said Hatch.

CPCNH is a nonprofit, a detail which Hatch focused on while presenting the benefits of becoming a community power municipality.

“There is complete transparency because it’s a nonprofit. It’s what’s known as governmental instrumentality, which means that we’re subject to all the right to know laws. You can go to cpcnh.org today and you could see our budgets and you will see our performance and our results,” said Hatch. “And there’s another very important thing about being a nonprofit. The difference between the way that a third party would be charging you is that they reach their figure, whatever 12.582 cents, within that 12½ cents is a chunk of profit for somebody in the power procurement industry. That profit is actually called community reserves in the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire. And those reserves will be put to work on behalf of the communities who are members.”

Temple’s Community Power Task Force will continue to seek feedback from the community pertaining to the desires of the municipality.