DUBLIN — The town has joined the ranks of New Hampshire municipalities exploring community power.
The selectboard is in the preliminary stages of learning about community power, board member Carole Monroe said. At an Aug. 3 meeting, Bob Hayden of Standard Power, a Nashua-based energy consulting firm, explained what this type of program is, its benefits, and what a plan might look like, according to minutes.
With a community power plan, the local government, instead of a utility company, sources electricity for consumers. This allows the town more control over where the power is coming from, and the municipality can also explore lower-cost or renewable options.
According to the Local Energy Aggregation Network, 10 states — California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia and New Hampshire — have passed legislation authorizing municipalities to create community power programs. The Granite State joined the list in 2019, and, earlier this year, Keene became its first municipality to adopt a community power plan and present it to the Public Utilities Commission for approval.
In Dublin, the selectboard will continue to discuss the topic, Monroe said, and could then consider creating a committee that would be tasked with researching community power. The committee would then make recommendations about what course of action would be best for the town, she said.
Dublin Town Administrator Kate Fuller said the community power plans that are taking shape in the Monadnock Region prompted the board to begin considering a plan of its own.
“We’re looking at what other towns are doing,” Fuller said. “The selectboard is always interested in what’s the best cost savings for Dublin.”
According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, the Northeast has some of the highest residential electricity costs in the country. Of the six New England states, New Hampshire, which averaged 19.96 cents per kilowatt-hour in May 2021, fell behind Connecticut and Rhode Island, which averaged 22.07 and 20.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, respectively. The national average was 13.71 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The Dublin selectboard is watching Keene and Harrisville — which approved its own community power plan with overwhelming support at its town meeting this past May — to observe how the programs affect their respective communities, according to Monroe.
“We’re really waiting to see what the results will be,” she said.
The Swanzey selectboard voted in March to create a community power committee, which will research and make recommendations for a program, to be voted on at the 2022 town meeting.
Cheshire County has also been exploring community power, with county commissioners expected to vote today on whether to enter into an agreement with the Community Power Coalition of N.H.
Meanwhile, Monadnock Region communities aren’t alone in exploring this power-sourcing option. According to the Community Power Coalition of N.H., several municipalities — including Exeter, Lebanon, Nashua and Dover — are all in the process of discussing energy aggregation.
The Dublin selectboard has until March to create a community power plan to be included for voters’ consideration in the town meeting warrant, Monroe said.