Greenfield and Bennington set up community power committees

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/1/2023 1:30:38 PM

The towns of Bennington and Greenfield have each created community power committees, which will enable the towns to negotiate for lower electric rates for residents currently served by Eversource. 

Bennington’s committee, chaired by David McKenzie, will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1 at the Bennington Town Hall to provide another opportunity for residents to ask questions and give feedback on the recent survey sent to town residents. All Bennington residents are encouraged to attend. Bennington Community Power will have a plan in place to be voted on at the March 12, 2024, Town Meeting.

Community power is a New Hampshire program that allows municipalities to potentially provide lower electricity rates by aggregating the town’s residents and negotiating for power supply on the competitive market. The program allows municipalities to select a different energy provider if there is a less-expensive alternative to the local utility, and also can provide options for residents to receive more energy from renewable sources.

Community power has been already been adopted by several towns in the Monadnock region, including Peterborough, Harrisville, Keene, Swanzey, Marlborough and Wilton. According to NHPR, initial rates negotiated for community power communities have been lower than standard utility rates.

In 2015, Eversource sold off its power-generating capacity, including coal, wood, oil and gas generation plants, as a result of the state’s 2015 Electric Restructuring Law. Eversource would still provide transmission, maintain the power lines, including communication during outages; and provide billing for customers enrolled in community power. Customers would see “Community Power,” rather than Eversource,  listed on the bill as the source of power generation.

Greenfield started looking into community power when several residents, including Conservation Commission Chair Karen Day, approached the Select Board to find out of Greenfield could take advantage of the program. Greenfield officially created a Community Power Committee on Oct. 23, which met again on Oct. 30.

“Everyone knows Eversource will be out there on Dec. 19, bargaining for power generation. They can only buy power twice a year, while community power will be out there bargaining in much more flexible way, ” said Greenfield Select Board member Tom Bascom. “We were very pleased with the turnout at the first meeting. We had nine people attend and six more say they are interested in being on the committee, so that is enough to have an official committee. People in town are definitely supportive of the possibility of this partnership,”

If the program is approved at Greenfield and Bennington town meetings, all households in either town currently using Eversource would be automatically enrolled, but can opt out of the program at any time by notifying their utility. Residents will also have the option to switch in and out of the program with no penalties.

Bascom noted that people with solar panels who sell power back to the grid may want to stay with Eversource.

“They are in a different situation, because they are selling power back, especially in the summer months. People with solar need to look at it real carefully and they may want to opt out,” Bascom said

Greenfield’s next step is to finalize a community power survey, which will be based on the surveys used by other towns throughout the process.

“What community power is finding in surveys across the state is that people want lower rates for their electricity, they want stability—especially after a year like 2022, when rates doubled.  People also want a greener power supply, more renewable energy. Community power is designed to bring all of those things,” Bascom said.

After the survey is completed, the Greenfield Community Power Committee will create a formal plan, which will then be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission for approval by the state. Greenfield will hold several public hearings over the winter, prior to Town Meeting, to give residents an opportunity to ask questions about the plan.

Bennington’s online survey can be found at

Greenfield’s survey is at

More information about community power can be found at

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