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Electricity spike - NH Co-op bills to go up 14 percent this winter

PLYMOUTH — Electricity bills are going up by an average of $12.69 per month for customers of the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative this winter.

The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative board of directors has approved rate changes effective with bills rendered Nov. 1 that will result in an overall bill increase of 14.2 percent, or $12.69 per month, for a typical residential member using 500 kilowatt-hours per month.
The rate increase is the result of increases in two portions of members' bills – Co-op Power (the actual electricity used) and the Regional Access Charge (the cost to access the regional transmission grid in order to get power to the NHEC distribution system). For most members, the Co-op Power rate is increasing 42 percent, from 5.4 cents per kWh to 7.6 cents per kWh. By comparison, that is 25 percent lower than last winter's Co-op Power rate of 9.5 cents per kWh.
For most members the Regional Access Charge is increasing 12.5 percent during this winter period, from 2.4 cents per kWh to 2.7 cents per kWh. Driving this increase are the continued costs of major investments being made in the region's bulk transmission facilities that move large amounts of power from generators to points throughout New England.
Electric rates typically increase during the winter months, due to higher wholesale electricity costs. The same conditions that have caused New England electric rates to spike for the past four winters are still to blame for this latest seasonal increase. Though natural gas prices remain low at the wellhead, a lack of adequate pipeline capacity into New England means that power producers will be competing again this winter with home heating for limited natural gas supplies. This causes a significant delivery premium to be added to the wellhead price for natural gas, which is used to generate more than half of the electricity produced in New England.
NHEC is encouraging members to mitigate the effects of higher winter rates by conserving and, when possible, participating in NHEC's Energy Solutions programs. Energy efficiency improvements can help members save energy and money year-round. NHEC provides a full slate of energy-saving opportunities for residential, commercial and municipal members. Complete details are available online at www.nhec.com/energysolutions. Members can also view and manage their electric usage on SmartHub, NHEC's online home for account management at www.nhec.com

Meredith Library, Kelley Corner School among NH Preservation’s ‘Seven to Save’

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MANCHESTER — Two landmarks in Belknap County — the Benjamin M. Smith Memorial Library in Meredith and the Kelley Corner School in Gilmanton — were among the "Seven to Save" list of endangered historic buildings announced by the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance on Tuesday.

"Our list features the sort of places that you can't imagine your community without," said Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the Preservation Alliance, adding that "today we recognize seven great opportunities to transform threatened resources into vibrant community assets once again."

Meredith LibraryThe Meredith Public Library

The listing of the Meredith Public Library follows the decision of the board of trustees of the library in May to construct a new library at another location. Goodman said that in light of that decision, "We are concerned about the future of the building and want to raise awareness of its importance."

Earlier, the trustees' decision aroused the concern of the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, which in 2014 awarded the library a $70,000 matching grant to make repairs to the building. Dijit Taylor, executive director of the Land and Community Heritage Program wrote to Beverly Heyduk, who chairs the board of trustees, to say that her "board members were taken aback to learn of the possible plan to relocate the library." In her letter, Taylor cited the library's grant application, which carried "the clear message ... that the building will continue as the public library in its current location for many years to come." She closed by strongly urging the library trustees to reconsider their decision.

The library, built in 1901, is in need of extensive repairs and renovation. In 2011 a routine inspection found the building failed to comply with fire and safety codes, a judgment subsequently confirmed by the New Hampshire State Fire Marshall's Office, which led to the closure of space on the upper level in 2013. In 2012, assessments of the building by two architects versed in historic construction and renovation found that the library needed extensive repairs costing between $300,000 and $500,000. Altogether, between 2008 and 2015, the library and the town spent $419,710, of which state grants represented $100,000, on repairs and maintenance without overcoming the major shortcomings of the building, such as replacing the rear staircase and installing a sprinkler system.

Heyduk said, "We are very well aware of the historic significance of the building." She stressed that the trustees have pledged to assist the town, which owns the building, in putting it to another purpose consistent with its historic character. She explained that the alterations required to continue using the building as a library in compliance with building codes, fire and life safety regulations and the Americans with Disabilities Act would be inconsistent with its architectural and historic character. "We are doing a favor by leaving so that its historic integrity can be sustained," she said.

Kelley Corner SchoolKelley Corner School

The Kelley Corner School in Lower Gilmanton was built in 1778, the first of 18 schoolhouses dotted about town at one time and the only one of them still standing. The school operated until 1940, and since 1949 has been leased by the school district to the Lower Gilmanton Community Club to host community events such as strawberry festivals, bean suppers, harvest festivals and Halloween parties. As membership dwindled, the club's activities diminished and eventually the schoolhouse went dark for many years.

But, in the last decade , a revived Lower Gilmanton Community Club has turned its attention to the Kelley Corner School and secured it a place on the National Register of Historic Places. This year, the club is seeking a grant from the Land and Community Heritage Program to undertake repairs, including restoration of the chimney to enable the building to be heated with a wood stove, costing an estimated $35,000.

Brothers indicted for Gilford vandalism

By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Two brothers have been indicted for causing thousands of dollars in damages during a wanton vandalism spree in Gilford this spring.

Joshua Gerlarneau, 18, and his brother, Nathaniel, 21, of 23 Gale Ave., #2, Gilford, are each facing a Class B felony charge of criminal mischief. Police charge that during the morning of April 23, they smashed windows in an excavator, and in several homes, and also damaged mailboxes, signs and vehicles with spray paint.

The pair are accused of causing more than $6,100 in damage to a Kubota excavator belonging to Busby Construction while it parked at a job site on Potter Hill Road.

Gilford police obtained an arrest warrant for the two men within days of the incident based on tips from some of the victims.

One property owner whose mailbox was vandalized reported finding Nathanial Gerlarneau's debit card near the crime scene. A second resident recorded a license plate number from a car that he believed was being driven by the people who damaged his mailbox. Police determined the car was registered to Nathanial Gerlarneau.

Ironically, Gerlarneau's whereabouts when the crimes allegedly occurred were also documented by a Gilford police officer who stopped to offer assistance when she spotted his car on the side of Lakeshore Road with the hood open but discovered he was adding a quart of oil. She recorded the encounter in her log, noting there was a passenger in
the car.

Gilford Chief of Police Anthony Bean Burpee said that after the brothers were arrested on April 28, investigators twice interviewed the older sibling before he admitted his and his brother's involvement. He later accompanied an officer and showed him where the two had been.

If convicted of the felony charges, the brothers could face a maximum sentence of 3.5 to 7 years in prison and be ordered to pay restitution to the victims.

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