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.
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.
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.
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 →
It would be very easy to say that the most important issues today are well beyond just Ward 3 in Keene. While I am aware of those issues – and they are many – I say, “but”.
And this is an important “but”.
Neighborhood issues tend to get lost when decisions are made on the planning board and council levels. That’s why it’s important that you vote to keep me as your ward councilor. I focus on those smaller issues because they frequently end up as bad consequences of larger decisions that are made.
For example, we have a policy that sometimes allows excess city property to be developed in discordance with an abutting neighborhood. That was the case when I worked with the North Central Neighborhood Group, The Elm Research Institute and city staff to create the North Central Nature Park on North and Carroll streets.
We also started an anti-heroin campaign that culminated in a city-wide addiction solutions task force that I co-chaired with councilor Randy Filiault. Oh, by the way, they don’t deal drugs on that property anymore.
We have zoning regulations that sometimes allow high density zoning to encroach on medium density neighborhoods. An incident happened recently when I worked with Old Walpole and West Surry road residents and city staff to defeat such a development.
Our Planning Board rules allow developers to take as much time as they like to complete residential housing developments, no matter how it effects resident abutters. I recently worked with abutters and city staff to jump-start the so-called “Keene Sand and Gravel” development at 431 Court St.
Not too long ago, East Surry Road was devastated by a flood. I stood on the city manager’s desk to get that bridge and road damage repaired ASAP.
The Sentinel asks, what are the important issues? I would argue that those are the issues that residents call me about every day. Whether it be a pothole or tree hanging over a power line, constituent service is Job One for a ward councilor.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t been doing other things, like working to increase efficiencies in city operations. In fact, we have moved forward on a joint procurement initiative with the school district and county to share expenses and eliminate duplication. But, feet are being dragged and you need me to keep those feet to the fire.
There has been an economic development committee at work to bring business into town. I was not appointed to that committee – we’ll talk about the differences I have with this mayor later – but I have advocated for a sustainable path that takes us away from the same old technologies and methods that failed us in the past decades. You’ll recall Bruce Springsteen’s lines in his song, “My Home Town…these jobs are goin’ boys and they ain’t comin’ back.” Well, this is the 21st Century and we need to acknowledge that.
For example, soon the city will enter into a power purchase agreement with a solar company to buy only electricity generated from solar power in New Hampshire – at a lower rate than Eversource. You need me to stay on that purchasing committee to make sure it happens. Otherwise, you’ll likely get fracked natural gas for another generation.
In order to continue doing these things I need your help, to write letters to the editor, write Facebook and Twitter endorsements, sign canvassing card endorsements, make phone calls, put up lawn signs, or just say a kind word.
I’ve been with you folks for many years and have never asked for help. But, I’m asking now, and I hope you will.
Times really must be changing in America. The age-old tradition of electing people to represent our values in Washington, Concord and in our own towns and cities just doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.
NH Secretary of State William Gardner
Until recently, political parties would compete with one another for the right to represent people in government for the next term, and the losing constituency would begrudgingly agree to limit their activism to grumbling beneath their breath or maybe an occasional letter to the editor. That probably was because there really wasn’t that much difference between each party’s direction or methods. Not anymore.
For the third time in as many weeks I have been asked to join or lead efforts that make plebeian statements or resolutions vociferously opposing positions taken by elected officials. And, these aren’t isolated to just Keene or New Hampshire. These movements are happening across the country.
The most recent was a resolution by the Keene City Council to re-affirm America’s commitment to climate action. That’s winding it’s way through the process and willculminate, I predict, in a unanimous vote by the council on Thursday. In this town, it seems to be a no-brainer that President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Action Accord was ridiculous, if not evil.
Last week, members of the Monadnock Progressive Alliance asked me to shepherd a resolution opposing Trump’s radical stance on immigration.This particular resolution is well-written, and addresses how local law enforcement should best use their limited resources in enforcing aggressive Federal witch hunts. And, the county sheriff has already come out strongly with his own policy on the matter. I have advised the group to hold off until after the climate action resolution has passed, but am still a little concerned that using this new grass-roots tool too frequently will test the patience of councilors who generally oppose activist’s resolutions because they feel their job is just to keep the local water running.
Alas, now there’s the President’s formation of a voter fraud commission that’s asking state governments to turn over voter data that goes beyond what political parties have been purchasing from states for years. Our Secretary of State, William Gardner, was chosen to be a member and has since agreed to turn over the voter information. The governor agrees. This action involves local government, since our city clerk is responsible for keeping voter data and shouldn’t be required to participate in this bogus distraction.
The push-back against Trump’s agenda is as historic as is his departure from usual presidential policy making, and people seem to be depending upon local elected officials more and more to come to their defense as their confidence in state and national government diminishes.
And, the people aren’t being unreasonable in that belief. Trump wants to diminish climate action so the fossil fuel industry can continue to pollute the planet. Trump wants to attack immigration because he knows that is an issue that will divide and distract us. The voter fraud commission is an unabashed effort to divert attention away from the treason and espionage that stole the presidential election from the American people and threatens to undermine the very roots of our democracy.
So, as much as it is the city council’s job to keep the water running, it is also it’s job to give people a voice in areas where their voice has been muted. This is especially true in areas where local governments are being asked to use local resources to enforce corrupted national policies. Maybe the course to democracy does run through local government afterall.