What is it with the little towns on the Connecticut River west of Keene? First Chesterfield sets up the state’s first municipally-supported broadband network with Consolidated Communications, now its neighbor Westmoreland is the target of an unusual ‘non-wires alternative’ by Eversource.

UPDATE: There are more details in my story in the Concord Monitor – read it here.

ALSO: Eversource is proposing a battery system on the Cape and Islands in Mass. to avoid building a distribution line, although I’m not sure if there’s a bring-your-own-device component. Story here.

From the company press release:

Eversource today announced that it will propose the Westmoreland Clean Innovation Project. As part of the project, Eversource is proposing the installation of a 1.7 MW/7.1 MWh lithium ion battery that will provide back-up power for up to four hours. This technology will be complemented by locally targeted energy efficiency initiatives and a statewide “Bring Your Own Device” program that provides incentives to participating residential customers whose customer-owned batteries, Wi-Fi thermostats, electric vehicle chargers or other devices are used during peak demand for load reduction. 

Served by one major power line in a rural portion of the state, the Town of Westmoreland has been more prone to outages when compared to other communities in recent years. The Westmoreland Clean Innovation Project will help ensure continued service to nearly 450 residential customers, local businesses, and critical facilities like the fire station, elementary school and county nursing home during emergencies and other interruptions. As a “non-wires alternative,” the project will allow the company to avoid construction of a $6 million, 10-mile distribution circuit to improve reliability.

The proposal will need approval by the Public Utilities Commission and I’m sure there are complications which aren’t obvious to me. If nothing else, I’m sure it will draw opposition from folks who worry that giving utilities too much say in clean-energy programs will block competition.

The statewide demand response program will be part of the filing for energy efficiency program updates at the NHPUC later this year, and it will include several opportunities reserved for customers in Westmoreland. The company will use existing energy efficiency funds for additional outreach and marketing in Westmoreland to increase local participation in its programs. Eversource will seek approval for the 1.7 MW battery, which is projected to cost approximately $7 million, in its permanent distribution rate filing at the end of the month. If approved, the project is expected to begin construction in late 2020

A similar program was run for a couple years in Maine – I wrote about it last year (read it here).

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