Mason prepares for community power warrant article

Town of Mason

Town of Mason

By ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 11-29-2023 7:39 AM

Mason expects to join several other communities in crafting a warrant article proposing the adoption of community power, which residents will vote on in March.

Community power is a model where groups, including towns, can pool their buying power to purchase electricity at lower rates. Unlike Eversource, which is locked in to specific times of year it must reset rates, community power groups can set their rates whenever they like, and can wait for the most advantageous time. Community power plans also often offer options for greater amounts of energy to be provided from renewable sources.

Curt Spacht, chair of Mason’s Energy Aggregation Committee and a member of the town’s Energy Commission, said after seeing several other neighboring towns adopt community power programs, Mason became interested in the cost savings it could bring to residents.

“Even saving a couple of cents per kilowatt-hour is going to be good for us. It all adds up,” Spacht said. “Any savings we can bring would be helpful.”

Community power models  often offer multiple tiers for users to choose from, with varying levels of energy from renewable sources that typically include 50% and 100% renewable options. Those are also planned to be part of Mason’s community power program, if voters agree to try the model, Spacht said.

“There will be some who will be interested in the renewable energy aspect, and that will be available,” Spacht said.

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A community power committee has been meeting since July to start the process, which includes adopting a community power plan, the draft of which was reviewed by the committee on Monday, and holding at least two public information sessions, currently anticipated for January.

Spacht said the committee is taking advantage of the fact that several other communities have recently completed this process, and has been in contact with other towns about their own process,. This includes Peterborough, where the committee has been using the town’s community power plan and warrant article as a base for its own.

The article requests that the town adopt the community power plan, and authorize the Select Board to develop and implement Mason Community Power. The warrant specifies that the plan is self-funding by its users and does not involve tax dollars.

As with other communities that have adopted a community power model, the program will be “opt-out,” with residents receiving a notice by mail where they can select the tier they want to participate in, or opt out of the program. Those that do not respond to the notice will be enrolled in the community power plan default option.

Towns that have so far adopted community power have gone with one of two models – using a broker to purchase energy individually or joining an existing cooperative such as the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire. Spacht said Mason is considering both alternatives, but has not made any official decision on which to use.

“We want to look at both options carefully before making any decision,” Spacht said.

The committee has tentatively set a time frame for a public information session at the end of January, but has not confirmed the date. For information on Community Power, visit the Mason town website at masonnh.us/energy-aggregation-committee. When completed, the community power plan will be posted on the website.

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