I want to correct a misconception from the front page article by Mia Summerson in The Sentinel on March 31.
The headline, “The cost of going green: $23 a month” was completely inaccurate. You had to actually read beyond the first two paragraphs of the article to understand that the Keene Community Power plan proposes a default rate — the rate that everyone will get unless they choose otherwise — which would “remain competitive with the utility.” In other words, if you do nothing, you will pay $0 extra.
It is true that the draft plan also allows customers to select a more expensive rate with a higher percentage of renewable energy if they are so inclined and have the financial capacity. The highest percentage (100 percent renewable) is projected to add about $23 per month for the average electric consumer based on today’s market. There is also an option to select 50 percent renewables for about $10 more a month.
As renewable energy continues to decline in cost, we expect the differential to shrink so that maybe, by 2030, the plan can offer 100 percent renewable electricity for little or nothing extra. But even today, by combining our buying power, we would be able to afford a higher percentage of renewable energy for about the same price or less than we are currently paying individually.
For those who think that this draft plan would be tough on residents with low or fixed income, please understand that, instead of the default “Keene Local Green” rate, any resident can select the “Keene Basic” rate which is projected to save the average customer about $3 per month compared to the default rate. It has always been a goal of Keene’s Sustainable Energy Plan to make our transition to renewable energy without harming the most vulnerable among us. The proposed Community Power Plan actually gives us more ability to address these inequities than the current system. Social and economic equity has been part of our vision from the beginning.
And if you don’t believe any of this, you can always opt out of the Keene Community Power at no cost and at any time and stay with your existing supplier. It’s a win/win solution.
(This writer is chair of the Keene Community Power Committee.)