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:
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.
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.
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.
For Communities, By Communities
The agency is 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.
Implement Community Power
Coalition Support for Electric Aggregation Committees
The Coalition provides support to Electric Aggregation Committees throughout each step in the process required to establish and launch a Community Power program.
The steps required to join the Coalition and establish a Community Power program are listed below, along with the resources that will provided by the Coalition to Member communities:
After the Community Power program is formally established, the Coalition will guide Member communities through each subsequent step required to launch their program and begin serving customers:
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.