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Electric bills due to take dive

By Dean Shalhoup - Senior Staff Writer | Mar 18, 2023

Eversource line worker in Manchester. (Eversource photo)

NASHUA – The unveiling last week on Nashua’s City Hall Plaza of a new statewide agency, formed specifically to lower electric rates for customers who have watched their monthly bills trend in one direction – up – for quite some time, marks the first significant break for electric customers in recent memory.

Called the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire (CPCNH), the agency is currently comprised of representatives from the “first wave” of 10 communities, a number that coalition officials and supporters are already working to increase in the near future.

Indeed, a total of 30 communities have already voted to join the coalition, and are now in the process of launching their own programs, according to Henry Herndon, an energy consultant working with CPCNH.

Simply put, the coalition, which was approved by state legislators in 2019, generates savings for its member cities and towns by utilizing its collective buying power to lower customers’ electric rates, while at the same time build reserve funds that will be controlled at the local level rather than by big out-of-state corporations.

When the new rates take effect in May, the coalition will begin supplying electricity to Nashua and the other nine communities – Peterborough, Exeter, Hanover, Rye, Lebanon, Enfield, Harrisville, Plainfield and Walpole – at a rate of 15.8 cents per kilowatt hour, according to coalition representatives. That means customers of Eversource – by far the state’s largest electric provider – will realize a 22 percent, or $25, monthly savings on their electric bills.

Taking the savings a step further, the new basic rate of 15.8 cents per kilowatt hour will generate $5.8 million in savings in the first three months alone, according to Clifton Below, the chairman of the CPCNH board.

Nearly half of those expected savings – roughly $2.6 million – will benefit Nashua customers, Below added.

Among the city and state officials at the launch event was Doria Brown, Nashua’s Energy Manager, who represents the city on the CPCNH board.

“This is coming at the right time,” Brown said following the event. “We all got a sort of rude awakening back in August … this (CPCNH launch) is very timely.” Her August reference was when electric providers more than doubled the supply portion of customers’ bills.

That Nashua is in the first wave of communities to partner with the coalition is a source of pride for the city, Mayor Jim Donchess

said in brief remarks during the launch event.

“Nashua is proud to be among the first 10 communities that are charting a new path when it comes to where we get our energy,” Donchess said.

“Community Power Coalition is a brand new institution that gives Nashua and other communities the ability to control price volatility in the short- and long-term, and the tools to accelerate the transition to a more economically and environmentally sustainable energy system.”

Going forward, Donchess noted, “All electric customers in Nashua now have the option of buying 100 percent renewable power at a rate that is lower than the current Eversource supply rate.”

Also speaking at the event was Lisa Sweet, who represents the town of Rye on the CPCNH governing board.

The benefits of Community Power, she said, go beyond short-term savings in rates.

“Community Power allows us to build reserve funds controlled by our local communities ­- not out-of-state, for-profit corporations – and decide how those funds are spent,” Sweet said.

Being affiliated with Community Power also allows the agency to “counter future market volatility, and to invest back into our local communities.

“Our 10 communities are generating $8.1 million in reserves in the first three months of operation – that is local wealth to benefit customers for the long-term.”

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com.


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