Peterborough’s community power plan to roll out in April

By ROWAN WILSON

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 01-18-2023 10:32 AM

The Peterborough Community Power Committee is expected to launch its community power plan on April 3.

When the plan rolls out, Peterborough Community Power will be the default electricity supplier for small businesses and residents in town who currently purchase electricity from Eversource, although Eversource will still act as the electrical utility delivering power to customers.

In September 2021, the Peterborough Select Board created a Community Power Task Force, which transitioned into the Community Power Committee in December 2022. They were asked to research community power, which would enable residents to buy electricity in bulk with more energy coming from renewable sources. 

“It didn’t take us long to decide we should pursue it,”  committee co-Chair Tony Cassady said.

In May 2022, the Community Power Plan passed at Town Meeting with 89 percent approval, and the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission approved the plan on Dec. 12.

The task force selected Hanover-based nonprofit Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire as service provider for the plan, which the Select Board approved. During the presentation to the Select Board in December, task force members said they believed the coalition will offer rates lower than the Eversource default rate, and Cassady added that they can back out of the arrangement any time before electricity is purchased.

Cassady said the goals of the plan are “to save money on electric bills and increase the amount of electricity from renewable sources,” and added that the plan will also give people more options. Residents will have the option of opting out of the power plan or opting in if they are not being supplied by Eversource.

There are four tiers people can choose from as part of the plan. The default tier has not been chosen yet, and the town will make that decision depending on cost compared to Eversource’s default rate. The lowest tier will provide electricity with approximately the same amount coming from renewables as Eversource. The next tier will provide electricity from 33 percent renewables, and the top two tiers will offer 50 percent or 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources. Consumers will be able to opt up or down within tiers. 

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The Community Power Plan supports Peterborough’s larger renewable energy goals of achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and 100 percent renewable heat and transportation by 2050. Cassady said that as more renewable energy infrastructure is built in the state, the price of renewable power will likely decrease.

The Community Power Committee plans to send out mailers to residents in mid-February sharing information about the plan and how to participate.

On Jan. 30, the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire’s risk management committee will meet to discuss electrical rates and  market conditions to decide if the town will be able to buy power at the price point needed. A Peterborough representative will be present.

“The expectation is we will be able to do that,” Cassady said.

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