Cheshire County government is made up of several departments. The Department of Corrections is one of those departments. Persons receiving a sentence of less than one year, or are being held awaiting a court date, serve their time in a local … Continue reading →
I want to congratulate the towns of Marlborough, Keene, Swanzey and Wilton for forming an electrical power buying group. This is great news for the consumer. The wisdom of former Mayor Michael E.J. Blastos has finally been realized and I am proud to have served on that Energy and Climate Committee.
The Cheshire County Community Power (CCP) electric energy plan (EAP) was recently approved by the PUC and we are weighing our options to; 1) get the lowest and most sustainable rates to power our facilities in Keene, Swanzey and Westmoreland; and 2) establish rules for towns within Cheshire County to join the CCP plan.
The state’s Community Power law allows towns in Cheshire County to piggy-back onto the CCP plan without having to establish their own EAP’s, and still realize the buying power of the entire Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire (CPCNH) load bank. The rates of that load bank will be announced at a press conference scheduled for Monday, March 13 at 3pm in Concord to announce electric rates for it’s first wave of towns that include Harrisville, Walpole and Peterborough in the Monadnock Region.
Because of the market confusion last year, Cheshire County scrambled to find a competitive rate that would protect us from the huge rate increase. We entered into an agreement – which has saved the County 35% in electrical costs – with Freedom Energy that ends this fall. We are currently looking into a transition strategy to join into CPCNH’s plan that promises to save us even more and could take effect sometime this summer.
I also want to thank the members of the Monadnock Energy Hub, Clean Energy NH and local community energy committees for their tireless efforts to promote the concept of community power in the Monadnock Region. Together we will bring sustainable, affordable and resilient energy sources to power our communities for decades into the future.
Whether it is through homeowners that install rooftop solar panels or businesses that invest in wind farms, more of us will access electricity through decentralized technologies than direct connection to the grid by the mid-2020s, according to Bloomberg NEF. While most of us translate this outlook to simply implementing more solar panels and wind turbines, that is only half the story. Decentralization has much more profound impacts in our society, including presenting consumers and businesses a choice — a choice to decide how to source their energy needs. Decentralized technologies help enable that consumer choice.
Micro grids are a key part of these decentralized technologies. The term micro grid can be intimidating, because it may mean different things to different people, so let’s break it down and highlight some of the benefits.
Let’s cover four common questions and answers about living on micro grids to boost your energy IQ.
No. #1: What is a micro grid?
A micro grid is a local energy system capable of producing, potentially storing and distributing energy to the facilities within the network. Micro grids can be made up of several different assets, also called distributed energy resources (DERs). Common DERs used to generate power are solar photovoltaics (PV), wind turbines and power generators. Energy storage systems, intelligent controls and management software are other elements of the system that provide further functionality to the micro grid. Micro grids can be connected to the centralized grid or completely off-grid and self-sustaining. With the obvious need for continuous, reliable power, healthcare facilities can be good applications for grid-connected micro grids. Remote mining sites that need a lot of energy can be great applications for off-grid micro grids.
No. #2: What is the difference between micro grids and centralized generation?
The difference can be summed up in two words; proximity and resiliency.
Micro grids are near facilities they power. On the other hand, electricity, in centralized power generation, is produced in central power plants that could be hundreds to thousands of miles away from facilities being powered. This proximity of micro grids reduces losses in energy transmission and the significant cost of installing new transmission and distribution networks.
Most micro grids deliver improved energy resiliency through redundant DERs, a combination of solar PV, natural gas or diesel power generators and energy storage systems. Depending upon the micro grid design, facilities can still be powered even if any of these DERs fail. In comparison, a failure in a power plant could put us in the dark.
No. #3: How does a microgrid work?
Intelligent controls and management software are at the core of micro grids. Many control systems can track the energy needs of the facility and determine how to supply the needed energy. These control systems consider and evaluate factors such as cost, fuel supply, weather and energy load required to decide which DERs to utilize.
As mentioned, micro grids can be made up of many different assets. The control systems are the key element to manage dispatching the best asset based on these factors. Finally, some micro grids also feature energy storage systems to capture the energy produced at one time for use later.
No. #4: Why do we need micro grids?
As more businesses focus on sustainability and deploy renewable energy sources such as solar PV, micro grids come to help by integrating these renewable sources into the energy infrastructure. These renewable sources become a physical part of the micro grid and the intelligent controls manage their utilization.
Micro grids feature intelligent controls that can help businesses save money and improve economics. These systems can monitor the cost of energy from different DERs and utilities, then make choices on activating the lowest cost option. They also maximize the contribution of different sources. For example, when the wind isn’t blowing, the energy storage system can be activated to utilize the energy stored from when it was blowing to meet the load. Micro grids also help businesses participate in demand response and demand charge management programs to lower their costs.
Micro grids improve the resiliency of the local energy infrastructure by adding redundant DERs, which provide energy to the businesses. For a grid-tied micro grid, this means local DERs, ranging from solar PV to power generators, can continue to power the businesses and facilities during a utility outage.
Micro grids will continue to play a key role in our energy future. Users can evaluate the relevancy of micro grids per their unique needs as a part of their broader energy management strategy.
Can We Go Local?
Consider the 16 square mile area centered by the Dillant-Hopkins Airport in Swanzey.
That block of area encompasses the Keene Industrial Park, Keene’s Dillant-Hopkins Airport and Keene sewage treatment plant, Swanzey Fire Dept. and Industrial Park, Monadnock Regional High School, The Cheshire Fairgrounds, as well as dozens of businesses and hundreds of residential homes. And it is serviced by a phase-3 electrical power line owned by Eversource Electric.
The City of Keene recently installed a 770 KW solar array to power the sewer treatment plant – the facility that consumes the largest amount of electricity – but was constrained by a state law that doesn’t allow solar arrays of more than 1 MW to built outside the municipality’s boundaries. This array provides much of the power consumed by the facility, but not all, and certainly not enough to serve surrounding needs, or provide the resiliency should the central grid resource go down.
A solution, and pioneer project for the Cheshire County region, would be a collaboration among the several stakeholders to build a several MW micro grid that could be managed by a cooperative joint powers agency.
The benefits of economics, sustainability and resiliency as explained above would empower local entities to realize their own energy goals.
Former state representative Paul Berch points out that the County tried to build a micro grid in Westmoreland a few years back, because of the frequent power outages there. The Public Utilities Commission turned it down because they felt it would not be cost effective, as opposed to building more transmission infrastructure as needed. Because 3-phase power is close by, I believe a micro-grid at the Dillant-Hopkins Block would meet the PUC’s LCIP (Least Cost Integrated Resource Plan) guidelines and be a perfect pioneer project.
I urge the local stakeholders to meet informally to see if this plan is something that could benefit their constituencies.
As you may know, for the past five years I have been an intervenor before the NH Public Utilities Commission in it’s deliberations concerning the expansion of natural gas as an energy source in New Hampshire.
One important fact that has come out of these deliberations is that New Hampshire law precludes natural gas companies from expanding into other energy sources, such as wind, solar or hydro. This fact makes it impossible for gas companies to consider transitioning off fossil fuels to renewable fuels that are less harmful to our environment, because it would mean putting themselves out of business.
Many people agree with me that diversifying our energy sources makes us less vulnerable to price spikes and shortages caused by global events beyond our control.
Obviously the issue is much more complicated than that, but I am suggesting a change in current legislation that could help. Simply put, an amendment to RSA 378:37 would allow energy companies who deal strictly in fossil fuels to produce electricity – and make a profit – using renewable sources.
The suggested text is highlighted in bold:
378:37 New Hampshire Energy Policy. – The general court declares that it shall be the energy policy of this state to meet the energy needs of the citizens and businesses of the state at the lowest reasonable cost while providing for the reliability and diversity of energy sources; to maximize the use of cost effective energy efficiency and other demand side resources; and to protect the safety and health of the citizens, the physical environment of the state, and the future supplies of resources, with consideration of the financial stability of the state’s utilities. To meet this policy, the commission may permit, approve and otherwise authorize utility investment in, use and deployment of such energy sources as the commission deems consistent with the policy and the utility’s resource management capabilities on such terms and conditions as the Commission deems just and reasonable, without requiring the utility to obtain such authority as may be required under Chapter 374 or otherwise; in the event of conflict with any other commission regulations, under the general regulations of Chapter 374 or otherwise, this provision of this statute shall control.
I ask that our county legislators consider introducing this amendment for consideration during the upcoming legislative session.
My name is Terry Clark and I am running for re-election as county commissioner representing Keene, Marlborough and Roxbury.
Two years ago, I promised to work on regionalization of county/town concerns because I believe we can most efficiently address regional issues as a team. Since then, we have faced the ambulance crisis and formed the Cheshire Emergency Medical Services Department that will launch in mid-November.
Also, the County has long been a proponent of energy efficiency – completing upgrade projects that have already saved 500kw of energy per year. In addition to that, I am a director of The Community Power Coalition of NH that will bring lower-than-utility cost energy into the county with a Community Power Program that will allow towns and their residents to share in those savings.
I hope to continue expanding regional cooperation between county towns to bridge the silos that duplicate efforts and tax dollars, better utilized by sharing information and resources. The County has the statutory authority to act as an arbiter between towns and regional interests and should be utilized wherever possible to achieve common regional goals at lower costs than can be realized by individual towns.
The short answer is that we will work to provide a superior service to taxpayers at a lower price.
My top priorities for the next term are to:
Maintain a professional working atmosphere at County facilities that will help employees succeed at their jobs, and attract future employees to maintain nursing, correctional and other staff levels in this very competitive market;
Utilize our Grants Department to find alternative funding for projects, and use managerial strategies that will keep a high level of services to the taxpayer at the lowest possible cost. Just one example is our recent effort to fund the sheriff’s $2.9 million communications equipment upgrade almost entirely without taxpayer funds;
Successfully role out the Cheshire Community Power Plan, saving money on electricity for County facilities, County towns and their residents. This plan is being integrated with our ongoing energy conservation and modernization projects.
I would appreciate your vote for another term as your county commissioner on November 8th.
I’ve filed for re-election for County Commissioner representing Keene, Roxbury and Marlborough.
It’s been an exciting time being Cheshire County Commissioner these past two years, and as County Treasurer the previous two. Through this experience, I’ve seen the extent in which counties in New Hampshire effect the everyday lives of people living here. I’ve come to realize the dedication of administrators, departmental heads and their staff, the state representatives who serve as our county delegation, and the board of commissioners.
The single-most thing that’s become apparent to me from watching this team is that department heads need commissioner support to be innovative and to run smoothly and efficiently. And taxpayers need a commission that will be both mindful of community needs, and the ability to finance those needs.
Luckily, that combination has been the order of the day and I promise to continue and add to the progress in areas such as nursing and critical care, energy efficiency and resourcefulness, and meaningful, alternative programs to the traditional criminal justice system for individuals with a substance use disorder and/or mental illness.
Immediately at my election as commissioner in 2019 we were dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and tasked with dispersing $14,778,619 in American Recovery Program assistance. A million dollars of this money went to the City of Keene and the other towns in the county to use as they pleased; $1.8 million went to non-profits; nearly $2 million went to local businesses that were impacted by the pandemic; and $4.5 million allowed us to design and create a regional emergency medical services agency that will operate without county tax dollars.
Other recipients included county hall renovations and county facility HVAC upgrades; community arts; economic development agencies in Keene and Winchester; two area chambers of commerce; and even $20,000 to fund lifeguard training in area towns.
The regional ambulance service allowed me to fulfill a campaign promise to work towards regional solutions in a meaningful way.
But, I am also working on another area: community power aggregation. Besides being able to join with regional hydro-electric producers to supply a big chunk of the electricity that powers county facilities, our new community power aggregation program will allow us to purchase all of our facility’s power needs, while allowing individual towns to join our consortium and take advantage of lower electric rates for both the towns’ and resident’s needs through our combined buying power.
Throughout the next few months, I’ll try to highlight other important roles a county commissioner plays in the lives of the citizens of Cheshire County. I hope I’ll be able to win your confidence.
Recent news that major electricity suppliers like Eversource may soon begin selective blackouts to account for their short-sighted dependence on natural gas is startling and could have been, and still could be, avoided.
This news comes on the heels of the Gov. Sununu-appointed Public Utilities Commission’s decimation of the state’s N.H Saves program. This action was so ill-advised that the Legislature just passed a bill by an unheard of bipartisan, unanimous vote to negate the damage.
Ratepayers should come together and insist that the Legislature also repudiate the governor’s foolish and greedy agenda of stonewalling the advancement of renewable energy technology by lifting the cap on net metering and removing the unnecessary hurdles local community power aggregation groups are facing.
It’s no secret that New Hampshire needs to get off fossil fuels, and fast. The climate crisis is here, and transitioning to clean energy must happen as soon as possible. We can use energy efficiency, solar, wind and more to help us get there to avoid freezing our families as well as the worst climate cataclysm in recorded history.
It’s time for ratepayers to face the fact that the other key benefit of getting off of fossil fuels is building a clean-energy economy, powered by local jobs right here at home.
Because eliminating fossil fuels doesn’t only make environmental sense — it makes economic sense.
Recent news that major electricity suppliers like Eversource may soon begin selective blackouts to account for their short – sighted dependence on natural gas is startling and could have been, and still could be avoided.
This news comes on the heels of the Governor Sununu-appointed Public Utilities Commission’s decimation of the State’s NHSaves program. This action was so ill advised that the legislature just passed a bill by an unheard of bi-partisan, unanimous vote to negate the damage.
Ratepayers should come together and insist that the legislature also repudiate the governor’s foolish and greedy agenda of stone walling the advancement of renewable energy technology by lifting the cap on net metering and removing the unnecessary hurdles local community power aggregation groups are facing.
It’s no secret that New Hampshire needs to get off fossil fuels, and fast. The climate crisis is here, and transitioning to clean energy must happen as soon as possible. We can use energy efficiency, solar, wind, and more to help us get there to avoid freezing our families as well as the worst climate cataclysm in recorded history.
It’s time for ratepayers to face the fact that the other key benefit of getting off of fossil fuels is building a clean energy economy, powered by local jobs right here at home.
Eliminating fossil fuels doesn’t only make environmental sense – it makes economic sense.
The City of Keene’s apparent surprise that the number of Right To Know requests in Keene are higher than anywhere in the state shouldn’t come as a surprise. (“Keene has averaged about 100 RTK requests annually since 2017” By Mia Summerson Sentinel Staff Aug 10, 2021)
Consider that rather than complying with simple requests for information, the city routinely requires people, and even city councilors, to file Right To Know requests to get information that should be readily accessible.
What is a surprise is that the city continues this practice.
In 2019 the NH Supreme Court ruled against the city in Salchetti v. The City of Keene, where the Court said that the city didn’t take right to know very seriously, and found that the city’s practice of not storing data in a form that is readily available to the public is unconstitutional.
The real question should be why the city feels that it is such an inconvenience to be transparent.
A disappointing new reality. The restaurant where me and a friend have been having breakfast once a week has closed on that day because of a labor shortage. This is happening more and more as low-wage workers are beginning to realize that they are getting it in the neck, and are choosing to do other things.
The United States is one of only a few countires I’ve been in that still forces waitstaff to live on tips. I say get rid of the tip system – as most of the world has – and pay people a living wage with benefits. This country has been subsidizing goods and services with sub-standard labor costs for way too long. If capitalism really works, make business prove it.
In our history “the people” have only gained partial control of the government during a few short periods of time before the status quo just took it back.
I think that may be the nature of things that we can’t change. But, public consciousness needs to change to a point where regular folks don’t become complacent – ever. Special interests never become complacent. They are always trying to gain an advantage, and they succeed when folks stop paying attention or get distracted.
That’s why education is so very important. We need to educate every single generation to think critically and resist every effort to diminish education. Have you ever wondered why New Hampshire state government’s contribution to higher education has dwindled to the point where it is a farce to even call the Univerisity System of New Hampshire a state university system?
Today’s distractions pit regular folks against each other by creating imaginary enemies like immigrants, non-Christians, gender differences, etc. These things that suddenly consume the lives of people in fact have no bearing on people’s everyday lives. What does the crossing of a border in Arizona really have to do with the life of someone living in New Hampshire? Nothing.
But it does distract them from thinking about why they pay a disproportionate amount of taxes in New Hampshire than a richer man does. It distracts them from wondering why this state has no minimum wage. It distracts them from questioning why there is so little freedom and no local control in a state who’s motto is “Live Free or Die”.