NH Electric Cooperative

Courtesy IBEW

A strike at the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative is over after members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers voted to ratify a new contract. 

The company reached the three-and-a-half year agreement with its 83 union workers Thursday, more than a week after they walked off the job.

They were picketing for more control of their pensions than the co-op initially wanted to give. In a statement, the union says the contract they agreed to addresses those concerns.

The strike was the first for the IBEW in New Hampshire and Maine in at least 30 years.

IBEW Local 1837

Union workers are on strike at the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative as of Monday.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers represents about 85 of the cooperative’s employees, including all of its linemen.

Local 1837 business manager Dick Rogers says negotiations on their next collective bargaining agreement fell apart after the utility wanted to retain the right to alter workers’ pension plans “at any time, for any reason” in future.

Rogers says it shows “disrespect” for the workers who walked off the job Monday.

creative commons

Update -- Tuesday, May 1: Co-op spokesman Seth Wheeler says the company and union agreed late Monday to extend negotiations by 24 hours, through Tuesday night.

It puts off the possibility of a strike until at least Wednesday.

Wheeler says the co-op's union employees may also work without a contract until negotiations are done.

Original story -- Monday, April 30: 

NH Solar Shares

Plymouth will soon be home to the state's first small solar panel arrays designed to help low-income families. The nonprofit behind the project hopes other towns will follow suit.  

Solar Shares has raised more $115,000 for the arrays and plans to break ground on the first one, near the Common Man Inn, in the spring.

File photo

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has settled a dispute between towns and electric companies in the state over how to appraise the value of land used by utilities.

Last Friday, the state’s highest court ruled in favor of 60 towns across New Hampshire that argued they should be the ones to appraise the land used by utilities in their towns.

Power companies Eversource and New Hampshire Electric Coop argued that a different appraisal of the property, done by the state, is more accurate.

That state appraisal would result in a lower tax burden for the companies.

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New Hampshire Electric Cooperative and Liberty Utilities say customers will see their bills decrease, effective May 1.

The change is the result of a decrease in the power rate.

For co-op customers, it comes out to about $23.67 less per month for a residential member using 500 kilowatts per month. For a customer using 1,000 kilowatts per month, it's about $47.33.

At Liberty, the reduction will mean a $46 decrease per month for an average residential customer.

Julian- / Flickr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire Electric Coop will soon be the first utility in the state to fulfill a state-mandated requirement on how many customers are allowed to sell their solar energy back onto the grid. This has led some potential solar customers concerned about whether they will recoup their investment to bring their complaints to the Coop’s Board of Directors.

To get what this brouhaha is all about, you first have to know what net-metering is.

David DeHetre / Flickr CC

  Another utility has announced that electric rates will rise this winter. For customers of the New Hampshire Electric Coop, the state’s second largest utility, winter electricity bills will rise 12.2%

The rate increase takes place on October 1st, and will cost ratepayers using 500 kilowatt hours $12.47 cents more per month. The increase is due to increasing rates on the energy half of the electric bill, which are increasing from 8.97 cents per kilowatt hour, to 11.6 cents.