Q&A: Community Power Coalition CEO Brian Callnan

The Coalition's first CEO has long career in utility industry in both VT and NH

‘Community members are essential to creating every community power program and ensuring these programs continue to evolve to maximize long-term savings and benefits,’ says the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire’s first CEO Brian Callnan.

Brian Callnan, who started work in May as the first CEO of the Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire, has had a long career in the utility industry both in Vermont and here in New Hampshire, most recently as vice president of power and access at the NH Electric Cooperative.

Q. Tell us about the coalition.

A. Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire (CPCNH) is a nonprofit public power agency helping empower New Hampshire communities to realize their energy goals. The organization started in 2021 to create value for its member communities by jointly contracting for energy services, providing guidance on how towns, cities and counties can embrace community power in New Hampshire, advocating for communities at the state level, and providing expertise on energy projects and program development.

Q. Explain how the coalition can offer electricity at less expensive rates than utility companies.

A. CPCNH is on track to save New Hampshire communities about $14 million through July 31. We have been able to do this with the help of a leading energy portfolio and planning firm to help our communities find great energy prices. Our flexibility allows us to contract for energy with a balanced portfolio, including securing energy at different times a year, helping local energy projects develop and offering innovative rates to help manage energy needs.

Q. As its first CEO, what is your mission?

A. We are a member organization. CPCNH is delivering exceptional value for its members, and I will work to keep the quality and satisfaction of the member experience as high as possible. CPCNH can help spread the benefits of nonprofit power throughout New Hampshire. Our 33 members and counting are helping make that a reality.

Q. How does a community become a part of the coalition?

A. Drop us a note at info@cpcnh.org, and we can help get your community started. We have developed a step-by-step guide and will help communities every step of the way. All New Hampshire cities, towns and counties are invited to join the coalition and may do so at no cost. Communities join by a vote of their selectboard, city or town council, county commission, or other local governing body to adopt our Joint Powers Agreement, available at cpcnh.org/about.

Q. If I’m a customer of Eversource or another utility but my town or city is a member of CPCNH, who am I getting my electric bill from?

A. It should still come from your same provider, your distribution utility. But when you look at your bill, under the supplier name, you’ll see something like “Community Power.” Then you’ll know you’re getting your energy from CPCNH.

Q. When a town or city signs on as a member of CPCNH, do its residents automatically have their electric prices set by the coalition?

A. Yes. If you’re a resident within that town or community and you decide that you want to take a different service, you could always opt out of the aggregation and go back to the default utility service, or you could opt out and take a different competitive supplier.

Q. Can citizens of a community petition or otherwise encourage their city councils or boards of aldermen to join the coalition?

A. Community members are essential to creating every community power program and ensuring these programs continue to evolve to maximize long-term savings and benefits. Many communities have energy committees, a great way to start the conversation. Send us an e-mail at info@cpcnh.org, and we can help move the ball forward on increased member energy empowerment.

Q. What is your past work experience?

A. I have represented nonprofit public power utilities for over 20 years. I’ve helped municipalities and utilities negotiate long-term power projects and contracts for hydroelectric, wind, solar and battery storage facilities as well as biomass, nuclear and fast-start combustion turbine facilities. I’ve worked with statewide energy efficiency utilities, developed innovative rate designs, represented the interests of ratepayers at state utility commissions, regional stakeholder efforts, and in front of Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioners, and have been a proud member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union. The ratepayer is and should always remain the sole focus of an organization’s efforts. This is part of the fabric of CPCNH as a member-governed organization, and I plan to use the experience I’ve gained to serve our community members as best as possible.

Categories: Q&A