I’ve been following efforts in the city and the state to help move us off of fossil fuels and onto renewable energy sources. There has been amazing progress made. The city’s new energy plan is state of the art and it portends a future with more energy wealth, more energy security, and more clean energy jobs.
The state’s Community Power Act that Gov. Sununu signed in 2019 introduced more competition into local electricity markets.
Community power is a way for communities to band together and use their combined strength to negotiate for lower electricity costs and save customers money. Solar and wind electricity is already the cheapest kind of electricity in America. Community power gives cities and towns the ability to buy clean energy if they choose. This can speed the retirement of fossil fuels.
But community power also challenges Eversource’s monopoly. Is that why Eversource is fighting back against community power? It wants the N.H. Legislature to pass a law that sabotages community power and restores Eversource’s monopoly over electricity in our region. How anti-libertarian can you get?
Paradoxically, Eversource has much to gain from the energy transition. Eventually, we will all need to switch from petroleum vehicles to electric or hydrogen vehicles. General Motors just announced it won’t build gasoline cars after 2035. The economics and science are clear: electric cars are the future. Now think about this: When America converts passenger cars to electric, overall electricity consumption will go up 25 percent. This will be great for Eversource. To deliver all that electricity, Eversource will need to upgrade the electricity grid and in doing so, it will make a lot of money. (The Public Utilities Commission allows Eversource to recover all costs and make a tidy profit on any upgrades it makes to the grid.)
But strangely, Eversource is not working to promote electric vehicles or to promote renewable energy. Instead, it is focused on killing community power and New Hampshire citizens’ right to choose. I can’t speak for Eversource’s motives, but it is clear that community power is in the best interest of New Hampshire citizens. I think an alliance between Eversource and those who are working on a clean energy future makes a lot of sense.
(This writer is an associate professor of environmental studies at Keene State College.)