Reps. Carol McGuire, William Hatch, Peter Schmidt and Tim Lang during a Friday meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules. The committee approved community power rules without discussion. (Annmarie Timmins | New Hampshire Bulletin)
A legislative committee approved rules for community power Friday, which will allow cities and towns to band together to purchase their own energy. Amid soaring electricity costs, energy experts anticipate this will save ratepayers money while increasing renewable energy options.
The rules required approval by the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules before taking effect. Advocates of community power have been awaiting the decision so programs around the state can get the regulatory approval from the Public Utilities Commission they need to start buying power.
“We’re not through the woods but we seem to be pretty well on track with today’s rule approval,” said Henry Herndon, an energy consultant who works with the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire. The nonprofit represents around 20 percent of the state’s population, said Herndon, who expects programs to launch around the state by April or May of next year.
On Aug. 30, the city of Lebanon was the first community to receive the commission’s approval, contingent on the final rules passed today. Other towns already have local approval of their plans and are preparing to file these plans with the PUC, according to Herndon. They include Rye, Exeter, Peterborough, Harrisville, Walpole, Plainfield, Enfield, and Hanover.
PUC Commissioner Carleton Simpson expressed his support for the initiative, which he said would transform the state’s energy market when the PUC approved the rules in July.
Other energy experts including Herndon agree that community power could reshape the state’s energy landscape.
“Is this a revolutionary change in how we do electric markets?” said Herndon. “I think it is.”
Other firms including Standard Power and Freedom Energy Logistics are also poised to provide community power service in the state.
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