Lyndeborough plans for community power warrant

  • Lyndeborough Community Power Committee Chair Mike Kaply goes through a presentation on community power during a public hearing at the J.A. Tarbell Library on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/20/2023 12:16:06 PM

Lyndeborough is continuing to explore the concept of community power, with the anticipation of putting the option on the warrant for Town Meeting in 2024.

Although the Community Power Committee held public hearings Wednesday and Thursday to explain the basis of community power and what it could look like for Lyndeborough, no residents attended either session, according to Lyndeborough’s Community Power Committee Chair Michael Kaply.

Community power is a model where groups – including towns – can pool their buying power to negotiate for better power costs and more options to receive energy from renewable sources. While the energy supply will likely come from a third party, Eversource will remain the distributor, and would continue to provide emergency services for downed lines and storm response.

The town is working with the company Standard Power to act as a broker to secure the best energy deal for the town. Bob Hayden of Standard Power said the company will only move forward if the deal is significantly better than the rates offered by the Eversource default rate.

Hayden said that in addition to the buying power of a group, there are two other main reasons community power can save a community money on electricity. The first is that Eversource is required by law to set rates at specific times of the year, during a three-day window. Often, those windows don’t allow for the best rates, Hayden said. Eversource must also set its rates every six months, while community power models can lock into longer contracts at lower rates.

The town anticipates putting forth a warrant article in March asking residents to adopt community power, joining multiple other communities who are anticipating similar articles, including Bennington and Greenfield, with Rindge just starting the process of looking into community power. Other communities, including New Boston, Jaffrey and Milford, will soon be launching their programs after approving community power this year.

Hayden explained that when buying electricity, the best rates are offered when purchasing for a large supply. While Lyndeborough customers alone don’t meet that threshold, Standard Power will bundle Lyndeborough customers with other towns also joining community power programs to get rates very similar to what could be offered to a much-larger town.

Typically, community power offers a range of options for customers, based on how much renewable energy supply they would like included in their portfolios. In other towns Standard Power has worked with, the community power plan has offered a basic rate, which includes the state-mandated minimum of renewable energy of 23.4%, a default plan which has some amount higher than the minimum, a plan for 50% renewables and a plan for 100% renewables.

Hayden said in a community survey in Lyndeborough, residents followed similar trends as other towns, with a majority looking for more renewables, particularly if they could pay the same, less or slightly more than their current bill. Out of 73 respondents, 59% answered that would purchase a plan with more renewables if it cost less, 14% would pay more for more renewables and 8% were interested in 100% renewable energy, while 19% said they were not interested in more renewable options.

Kaply said the town has not determined yet what amount of renewable would be in the town’s default plan, but said it would likely be between 5 % and 10%.

Hayden said based on the towns Standard Power has already worked with on community power, an average of 88% of residents went with the default option, with 2 % to 3% taking the basic rate and about 3% each taking half or all renewable energy, with the rest opting out.

Hayden said the program might not be suitable for those already on an alternative energy supply, or those who have invested into solar power or other renewables themselves, and are selling power back to the grid. It may be a better option for those with solar panels that do not provide 100% of their own power needs. Standard Power will hold individual consultations with residents with solar to determine whether opting out of the program is the best option for them or not.

For information, visit the Community Power Committee’s page on the Lyndeborough town website, town.lyndeborough.nh.us, for a copy of the community power plan and a copy of the public hearing presentation, and for a schedule of upcoming meetings of the Community Power Committee.

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


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