The Coalition

The Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire, "the Coalition" for short, is a non-profit Joint Powers Agency that will empower towns, cities and counties across New Hampshire to:

  • Jointly solicit and contract for third-party services and staff support to implement and operate Community Power programs. 

  • Participate in joint power solicitations and project development opportunities.

  • Facilitate knowledge-sharing and regional collaborations on clean energy and resilient infrastructure development at the community-level throughout the state. 

  • Represent the interests of member communities in state policy affairs relating to Community Power and electricity (both legislative and regulatory).

The Coalition

The Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire is a non-profit Joint Powers Agency in development — governed “by communities, for communities” — that will empower towns, cities and counties across New Hampshire to:

  1. Streamline the process for authorizing a Community Power program locally.

  2. Share services and staff support across member cities, towns and counties. 

  3. Participate in joint power solicitations and local project development opportunities. 

  4. Share knowledge and collaborate regionally on clean energy and resilient infrastructure development. 

  5. Speak with one voice at the Legislature and Public Utilities Commission on public advocacy issues related to energy and Community Power.

There are no upfront costs to join the Coalition, and the expense of launching and operating each Member’s Community Power program will be repaid after program launch — through the electricity rates set by each Member’s governing body (town select boards, city councils and county executive committees) and the revenues received from participating customers in each program.

Our Values

In carrying out its activities, the Coalition is guided by the following values:

  • Embody an inspiring vision for New Hampshire’s energy future.

  • Support communities to reduce energy costs and pursue economic vitality by harnessing the power of competitive markets and innovation.

  • Support communities to implement successful energy and climate policies and to promote the transition to a carbon neutral energy system.

  • Balance the interests of member communities who are diverse in demographics, geography and their energy goals.

  • Use our shared expertise, leadership and skills to educate, empower and build the capacities of our members.

  • Help communities demystify the power sector to make informed decisions.

  • Facilitate collaboration and teamwork by championing diversity, equity and inclusion of people and communities of all kinds.

 

Community Power

What is Community Power?

Community Power, authorized under NH RSA 53-E, democratizes energy governance by empowering towns, cities and counties to choose where their electricity comes from on behalf of their residents and businesses, work with utilities on local energy infrastructure upgrades, and provide electricity supply rates and services to all customers participating in the program:

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Community Power programs serve as the default electricity supplier within the municipality and are self-funded through the revenues received by participating customers.

Local electric distribution utilities continue to own and operate the "poles and wires", and deliver electricity to all customers in the municipality.

Community Power programs may also offer innovative services and rates for customers on an "opt-in" or "opt-up" basis, such as 100% renewable premium products, time-varying rates and Net Energy Metering generation credits for customers with solar photovoltaics.

Expanding Customer Choice

Prior to launch of a Community Power program, all eligible customers are mailed notifications and provided the opportunity to opt-out or opt-in to the program, depending on whether they currently take service from a Competitive Electric Power Supplier or are on default service provided by local electric distribution utilities:

  • Customers currently on utility-provided default service will be notified, provided the opportunity to decline participation, and transferred to the Community Power if they do not "opt-out". These customer notifications will include the initial fixed rate for the program’s default service compared with the utility default service rate, be mailed to customers at least 30 days in advance of program launch, and provide instructions for customers to decline participation (for example, by return postcard, calling a phone number or using a web portal).  

  • Customers who previously chose to take service from a Competitive Electric Power Supplier will be notified and may request to "opt-in" to the program.

 

Any new customers that move into the municipality in future will be automatically eligible to receive default service from the Community Power program and will be sent a notification in the mail.

All customers supplied electricity from Community Power programs are free to switch back to the utility-provided default service, or to take service from a Competitive Electric Power Supplier, by opting-out of the program and switching suppliers in advance of their next billing cycle.

 

Member Benefits

The Power of Joint Action

By joining together, Members of the Coalition create economies of scale and innovation in procuring services and managing power procurement risks, gain administrative efficiencies in terms of expert staff oversight, and strengthen their voice at the Legislature and Public Utilities Commission — all while maintaining local control and community values.

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The Coalition has already proven able to coordinate municipalities to speak with one voice — and be heard — at the Legislature, with the “Early Legislative Victory” on HB 315 to protect and expand Community Power authorities.

In terms of achieving an economy-of-scale, the customer base of the Coalition’s founding members is forecasted to be approximately equivalent to Liberty Utilities (in terms of default service accounts and electricity procurement). Given the high degree of awareness and interest expressed by other municipalities in joining the Coalition to-date, the agency may expand to procure more electricity than Unitil does within the 2022-23 timeframe.

Industry Leading Services

The Coalition’s business model has been designed in accordance with competitive energy industry best practices in order to ensure that Member Community Power programs receive the highest-quality services provided by industry-leading vendors.

The Coalition's scale and structure as a Joint Powers Agency is what allows it to provide Members with continuous, expert management of a diversified portfolio of short- to long-term energy contracts negotiated with multiple competing suppliers. This approach is more "hands on" and flexible in terms of risk management compared to Community Power programs in most other states, where a municipality will typically: hire a broker on an individual basis, contract with a single electricity supplier at a fixed-price for a 1-to-3-year term, and hope that the program results in cost savings for customers on average (compared to how utility default service rates change over the length of contract).

The Coalition's “energy portfolio risk management” approach is industry standard best practice and is relied upon by larger power agencies and competitive suppliers. It will allow the Coalition to:

  • Actively engage in ISO New England wholesale markets on behalf of Members on a 24/7 basis;

  • Monitor and optimize exposure to market price volatility and forward power markets — to identify opportunities to enter into transactions that stabilize and reduce power supply costs, hedge risk exposure, and maintain Member portfolios in compliance with adopted Risk Management and Financial Reserve Policies.

  • Provide the flexibility required to deliver on Members’ short- and long-term goals — such as by layering in contracts from local generation into our overall supply portfolio (from municipal hydroelectric facilities and community solar and storage projects). 

The Coalition’s retail customer services are structured to provide a similar level of flexibility and innovation — to offer time-based rate options and electric vehicle charging rates that enable demand flexibility, individual and group net metering credits, distributed generation and energy storage dispatch programs, and other services that enable market access for third-party aggregators and directly empower customers to adopt new technologies and lower their cost of service (for both individual customers on a “full bill” basis and for each Member’s supply portfolio overall).

These strategies combine to analyze and manage financial risk holistically, at the enterprise level, and will allow Coalition Members to operate their Community Power programs on a stable, long-term basis.

Ensuring long-term stability unlocks the ability of our Members to contract for the construction of new renewables and battery storage (which are only financeable under long-term contracts).

Read more on our Shared Services pages.

 

Our Governance

For Communities, By Communities

The agency, as designed by the Coalition Organizing Group, is being structured under NH RSA 53-A as a tax-exempt governmental instrumentality governed by member municipalities and counties.

  • New Hampshire cities, towns, and counties who join as Members of the Coalition may appoint representatives to the agency’s Board of Directors, ensuring a governance structure that maintains operational and financial transparency. 

  • All founding members will be directly represented on the Coalition’s Board until more than twenty-one (21) members join, at which point directors will be elected by vote of the members at annual meetings.

  • All meetings of the Coalition will comply with New Hampshire’s Right-to-Know Law (NH RSA 91-A), the purpose of which is to “ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people”, based on the recognition that “openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society.”

Participation in the Coalition is voluntary: Members choose which services to share and projects to jointly develop, and may withdraw from participating in the Coalition entirely (subject to the conditions and timelines of any cost-sharing agreements entered into prior to that point). 

 
 

Join the Coalition

Joint Powers Agreement

To join the Coalition, a community’s governing body votes to enter into the Coalition’s Joint Powers Agreement.

The Joint Powers Agreement is a contract among counties, cities and towns and the corporate charter of the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire. It is authorized under NH RSA 53-A, the purpose of which is to:

"permit municipalities and counties to make the most efficient use of their powers by enabling them to cooperate with other municipalities and counties on a basis of mutual advantage and thereby to provide services and facilities in a manner and pursuant to forms of governmental organization that will accord best with geographic, economic, population and other factors influencing the needs and development of local communities."

 

The Coalition Joint Powers Agreement includes both the Articles of Agreement and initial By-Laws for the corporation, which details the purpose and structure of the organization, voting rights and election of the Board of Directors, provisions and categories of cost sharing (for administration, member services and projects), role of oversight committees, limitations of liability, insurance requirements and other aspects of running the enterprise. It authorizes the agency to:

  • Jointly exercise certain municipal authorities to promote the common good, general welfare and economic vitality across Member communities;

  • Provide supportive services and technical assistance to Member’s Community Power programs; and

  • Promote public education and civic engagement.

The Coalition provides support to towns and cities throughout each step in the process required to (1) join the Coalition and (2) launch a Community Power program — read more here.

 

Cost Sharing

What does it cost to join the Coalition?

There is no cost to adopting the Joint Powers Agreement and joining the Coalition as a Member:

  • Initial Members will participate in the development of the Coalition’s cost-sharing agreements (in accordance with Article V of the Joint Powers Agreement and Attachment A, Definition 1, p. 13). 

  • Municipalities are under no financial obligation until they execute a cost-sharing agreement. 

  • Municipalities may withdraw from the Coalition prior to entering into a cost-sharing agreement without any financial obligation, and withdraw at any time thereafter subject to the terms, conditions and continuing obligations specified in the cost-sharing agreement.

 

The Joint Powers Agreement stipulates that cost-sharing agreements will track and allocate three types of expenses incurred to administer the Agency, provide services and facilitate project development for participating Community Power programs:

 

  • Member Services Costs: Members may choose from a menu of services required to launch and operate their Community Power program, with the associated costs for each service recovered from participating Members. (The Complete Service Bundle will include: program implementation, power supply procurement and risk management, data management and billing, and customer services.)

  • Direct Project Costs: Members may choose to participate in a specific Project (e.g., a community solar project), and the associated costs for each Project will be recovered from participating Members. 

  • General and Administrative Costs: overhead expenses that are not allocated to either Member Services or Direct Project Costs will be recovered from all Members, based on their pro rata share of annual electricity sales.

 

Community Power programs are self-funded from the revenue received from participating customers: 

  • Members will be able to launch Community Power programs at no upfront expense through the Coalition: 

  • Program implementation and ongoing operating costs for each Member will be recovered post-launch through revenues from electricity sales.  

  • All costs will be recovered in the customer rates set by each Member.

Our History

Early Stage Formation

Beginning in 2019, an ad-hoc work group known as the “Coalition Organizing Group” met regularly to research national best practices and explore the viability of establishing a new public power nonprofit to share services across municipalities and counties. The Coalition Organizing Group has been led by the following municipal and county staff and officials:

  • City of Lebanon: Clifton Below, Assistant Mayor; Tad Montgomery, Energy & Facilities Manager; Everett Hammond, Assistant Public Works Director

  • Town of Hanover: Julia Griffin, Town Manager; April Salas, Sustainability Director;

  • City of Nashua: Doria Brown, Energy Manager;

  • Cheshire County: Christopher Coates, County Administrator; Rod Bouchard, Deputy County Administrator;

  • Town of Harrisville: Andrea Hodson, Selectwoman and member of Electric Aggregation Committee; Ned Hulbert, member of Electric Aggregation Committee.

The Coalition has been supported by technical and community advisors including: Henry Herndon, formerly Director of Local Energy Solutions, Clean Energy NH; Dori Drachman, Co-Founder, Monadnock Sustainability Network; Samuel Golding, President, Community Choice Partners; Dr. Amro Farid, Associate Professor, Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, and Mary Day Mordecai, Growing Edge Partners.

Members of the Coalition’s Organizing Group have:

  • Participated and often led discussions in the Community Power informal rule drafting process hosted by the Public Utilities Commission;

  • Intervened in regulatory proceedings and legislative hearings to represent the interests of communities and customers, such as by advocating for expanded data access in the Commission’s Statewide Data Platform docket (DE 19-197), and successfully negotiating the clarification and expansion of key Community Power authorities in House Bill 315;

  • Assessed power agency design best practices — in terms of community governance and competitive operating models — by interviewing elected officials, senior staff and vendors operating Community Power programs in other states (such as the Redwood Coast Energy Authority and Silicon Valley Clean Energy in California), along with representatives from public power associations (such as the American Public Power Association and the Vermont Public Power Supply Authority) and other industry experts; and

  • Hosted a virtual summit on Community Power that was attended by over eighty representatives from thirty-one municipalities, collectively representing one-quarter of the state’s default electricity market.

Execution of legal, community engagement and professional services contracts

In the second half of 2020, the City of Lebanon and Town of Hanover, in collaboration with the Organizing Group, after reviewing six responses to a Request for Qualifications, retained the law firm of Duncan, Weinberg, Genzer & Pembroke and worked with firm president Michael Postar Esq. and subcontracted New Hampshire counsel to draft the Coalition’s Joint Power Agreement. Duncan Weinberg are national leaders with over 50 years of public power legal guidance. In January 2021, the New Hampshire Attorney General approved our governance agreement as conforming to state law. Hanover and Lebanon are the first two municipalities to have voted to approve the Joint Powers Agreement to create the Coalition.

In February 2021, the City of Lebanon using previously secured grant funding and in collaboration with the Coalition’s Organizing Group contracted with Henry Herndon (formerly the Director of Local Energy Solutions at Clean Energy New Hampshire) and Samuel Golding of Community Choice Partners, Inc., to provide implementation support services prior to launch. Services include supporting municipalities throughout the Community Power approval and formation process, and conducting competitive solicitations for the services, credit support and electricity procurement required to launch and operate member Community Power programs. 

The Coalition will contract with qualified vendors and credit-worthy suppliers to cover the upfront cost of implementing Community Power programs, the expense of which is expected to be amortized and recovered in member program’s rates and charges to participating customers for a specified term. Similar at-risk and performance-based contract structures have been used to successfully launch and operate programs in other Community Power markets.

To ensure effective management of business operations, as well as enhanced transparency and oversight, the Coalition plans to hire a small number of qualified staff.