By Claremont Energy Advisory Committee

Last year, the New Hampshire Legislature passed Senate Bill 286, now known as RSA53-E:6, which enables local cities, towns, and counties to purchase electricity from an alternative electric supplier for their residents and businesses. Aptly named Community Power (sometimes called Community Choice or Municipal Aggregation), the legislation is an option for municipalities that want more local control over their electric sources, more green power, such as renewables like hydro, solar, and wind, and lower electricity rates. The Claremont City Council has decided to move forward on creating an Electric Aggregation Committee, which will be a subcommittee of the Claremont Energy Advisory Committee. Its mission will be to study the new program, “make recommendations for or against the city’s participation ... and if agreed upon, develop a municipal aggregation plan.”

Community Power was created to provide cities and towns an opportunity to decide what their community wants by constructing local energy projects. The first step to creating this new entity is to implement a committee that will research available options, create a plan for the community, and make recommendations to the city council for approval to move forward and change the way the city manages the energy portfolio for residents and businesses. This committee will help the city define the goals it wishes to achieve.

With Community Power, pricing is obtained from suppliers based on the aggregated kilowatt hour (KWH) demand of the participants. Everyone who participates in the pool, residents and businesses alike, reaps the savings for the duration of the contract. Contracts typically extend for a one to three year period, after which new contracts can be negotiated. As the electric utilities, e.g. Eversource and NH Cooperative, still provide delivery and maintenance of electrical facilities (poles, wires, etc.), the change is the source of that power and the price of electricity generation.

If the city council adopts Community Power, participation in the new program will be voluntary, and consumers can opt-out of the aggregation and stay with their current electric supplier if they wish. Community choice aggregation is becoming a more acceptable method of sourcing electricity across the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The Electric Aggregation Committee will include five members, composed of two members of the Claremont Energy Advisory Committee, one member of the city council, and two Claremont residents and/or business owners. Recruitment has begun with proposed work to begin by January 1, 2021. Individuals who are passionate about the project and willing to commit to completing the required research and attend the meetings are encouraged to apply. If you or someone you know is interested in this volunteer position, please contact deForest Bearse at (603) 504-0341 at the Claremont Planning and Development Office in the Claremont Visitors Center located at 14 North St.

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