RSA 53-E created the necessary legal framework for community power. The central conceit is to aggregate many small energy consumers under one umbrella, so they can act as a single customer when they contract for energy services (i.e., analogous to a “buying club”).
- A municipal aggregator can build its own portfolio of energy sources and offer several different combinations to consumers. Some products may emphasize renewable energy while other may emphasize affordability.
- A municipality may choose to generate its own power to feed into the grid for distribution to its aggregate members, but this is not a required part of a community power plan. Wilmot could conceivably buy power from another municipality that generates its own.
- The energy distributor (mostly the N.H. Energy Cooperative, in our case) remains the same and continues to bill the aggregator customers.
- It is not required that a resident to join a municipal aggregate. A plan can be either opt-in or opt-out. If it goes forward as the latter, then all residents must receive by mail an invitation to opt-out.
After meeting several times in 2022, the Wilmot committee put on hold plans for a 2023 warrant article to request permission from voters to start buying electricity for them. Plans were put on hold because the Coalition for Community Power of N.H. (CPCNH) could not yet promise lower rates than the N.H. Electrical Cooperative, which serves nearly all Wilmot residents.
In fall 2023 CPCNH informed us that they had grown enough and their credit had improved enough so that they could offer lower rates than any utility. The committee finished its aggregation plan and geared up for a 2024 warrant article. Then in early winter 2023 Merrimack County announced it would be joining the CPCNH, which automatically allows any county resident to opt in, but also allows Wilmot to join the county and offer for opt-out plan.
In January 2024 the committee voted to join the CPCNH along with the county. If Wilmot resident appreciate the lower electricity rates and would like full benefits of CPCNH membership, including more autonomy in using reserve funds put aside from customer bill payments for local energy projects (e.g., efficiency technology or local generation of power), then we will pursue full membership for Wilmot.
Wilmot residents who are selling power they product to their utility will not yet able to join CPCNH (i.e., may not opt in). The utilities are still working out how to manage the administrative parts of net metering and have not yet made it possible for net-meterers to sell their power to them but buy it from someone else. However, CPCNH is working with the utilities to find a solution to this problem. See the document below for more information.
Community Power Plan Committee
|Glynis Hart (select board)
|Andrew Scutro (advisor)
The Town of Wilmot is a member of the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire (CPCNH). As of January 2023, this nonprofit is still in the process of being set up. They are on schedule to begin purchasing power for the member towns in mid-April.
The phenomenon of a "municipal aggregator" has been around for a while. The EPA calls it "community choice aggregation."
Several other similar coalitions exist around the U.S. Some examples:
Cape Light Compact | southeastern Massachusetts
Sustainable Columbus | City of Columbus, Ohio