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 Page 8 NEWFOUNDLAKELIFE.COM November 2023 Bristol to Consider Adopting “Community Power”
 At the Bristol Town Meeting in March of this coming year, Bristol residents may be consid- ering adopting the Bristol Com- munity Power Plan and joining dozens of other New Hampshire cities and towns that are taking control of their energy future. The primary reason for this is to
achieve lower costs for electricity and the goal of improved ser- vices.
Some History
New Hampshire has a reg- ulated power market that con- sists of four primary geographic regions serviced by providers: Eversource, NH Electric Co-
Op, Until, and Liberty Utilities. The Public Utilities Commission provides oversight to regulate these three monopolies. Prior to 1996, these utilities were single suppliers of generation, trans- mission, and distribution of our electricity. In 1996, New Hamp- shire was the first in the nation
to deregulate the electricity mar- ket, forcing the utilities to divest of generation and handle only the transmission and distribution of electricity in NH. The idea was to harness market forces in the form of competition among power generators to force down the cost of electricity and foster innovation. Today, New Hamp- shire residents have a choice of generation providers, and market forces have arguably driven down the cost of power generation. But innovation has been slow or nonexistent with consumers largely utilizing the same system designed by Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.
Recent Changes
In 2019 RSA 53-E was passed by the NH legislature referred to as the Community Power Law. The legislation gives cities and towns the authority to become the default electricity suppliers for their residents and businesses with the goal of expanding in- novation in the power market to lower energy costs and pro- vide more options for customers. Bristol has the opportunity to join the non-profit organization, the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire, focused on providing members with more control over the cost, source, and related services of their electric- ity. In October of 2021, thirteen municipalities and one county joined together to incorporate the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire as a non- profit power agency. Today the Coalition consists of 34 members representing over 75,000 custom- ers, resulting in savings of ap- proximately $10 million to them in just the first year of operation. At the Bristol Town Meeting in March of this coming year, res- idents will decide if they would like to be part of this important initiative. If the initiative passes, each resident will have the op- portunity to become a member of the coalition or opt-out if they do not.
The Benefits for Bristol
The immediate benefit for the town of Bristol residents is a lower cost of electricity, with a broader choice of options. For ex- ample, the “Granite Basic” plan offers electricity at 10.9 cents per
KWH, as compared to the Ever- source default rate of 12.5 cents per KWH, a savings of 12%. But there are also options for renew- able energy sources from 33% to 100% for those who would like those options. And plans are un- derway to provide members with more innovative services such as Time Varying Rates and Local Battery Storage that can offer significant reductions in energy costs for homes and businesses.
But What is the Catch?
There is none. Bristol can join the nonprofit Community Power Coalition by the Select Board Vote and can authorize Bristol Community Power by Town Meeting vote. There is no cost to join the Coalition, and the costs of operating Bristol Community Power are paid for by partici- pating customers through their monthly electric payments. Cus- tomers can opt out of the pro- gram at any time at no cost and rejoin at a future point if they desire. The billing, support, and delivery of power remains with your current supplier (Eversource or NH Electric Co-Op). The Co- alition is a non-profit funded by customers. There is no tax im- pact on the town, or individual customers.
The Future
There is a rapid transfor- mation occurring in the energy market. The shift away from fossil fuels is renewable forms of energy is occurring at a fast pace. Likewise, the deployment of rooftop solar and local en- ergy storage solutions are pro- viding some homeowners and businesses the opportunity to significantly reduce their energy costs. However, because our de- fault supplier is not interested in supplying these services to Bristol residents, we’ve had no alterna- tive. By joining the Community Power Coalition of New Hamp- shire, Bristol residents will have an opportunity to actively partic- ipate in the benefits of the energy transition and enjoy lower energy costs and improved services.
For a complete list of Frequent Asked Questions about the Com- munity Power Coalition, please refer to this webpage at: www.
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