Valley Information Discussion board, February 10: HB 315 would take energy within the NH neighborhood

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Valley News Forum, February 10: HB 315 would take power in the NH community

HB 315 would take advantage of the power of the community in NH

HB 315 would exclude the municipal power option. New Hampshire parishes and counties were granted RSA 53-E in 2019.

This law enables the municipalities to act independently or to choose their own power source together. The local utility company remains the same for the distribution of electricity via power lines, but the choice of energy supplier is up to the municipality or the district.

The ability to choose an electricity supplier allows a municipality to purchase electricity at a lower price than the monopoly energy supplier offers when it is available or to choose cleaner sources of energy when they go online. Choosing renewable energy sources also has the advantage that greenhouse gases are reduced, which makes an important contribution to the climate crisis.

The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that the price of solar technology has decreased by over 70% over the past 10 years. In addition, Claremont and many other communities have energy policies that support modernizing energy systems, reducing carbon emissions and increasing energy efficiency. These trends make community power an easy economic and environmentally sustainable choice over energy sources of the past.

The House Committee on Science, Technology and Energy will hold a public hearing on HB 315 on Friday at 3 p.m. It’s easy to appeal the bill remotely: go to gencourt.state.nh.us. Under Links to Remote Meetings, click Get Remote Testimonial. On the calendar, click February 12. Elect the Science, Technology and Energy Committee. Choose “15:00 – HB 315”. In the box after “I am”, select “A Member of the Public” or another option. Then “I represent” should be followed by “I myself”. Then please click on “I oppose this bill” and indicate if you would like to speak to the committee at the hearing. Confirm who you are and stop the remote submission.

Claremont is at an early stage in exploring the power of community, also known as electrical aggregation. For more information on joining the Electrical Aggregation Subcommittee, call 603-504-0341.

REBECCA M.acKENZIE

Claremont

We need creative solutions for schools

I am writing this in response to Sarah Crysl Akhtar’s forum letter (“Privileged teachers still unwilling to work in person,” February 5). The uncreative solution offered in the letter – basically babysitting in the classroom – reflects a misunderstanding of the problems faced by educators at all levels, as well as showing little empathy for students.

Food employers have developed strategies to protect their employees – distancing, barriers, and working hours.

A more appropriate reference was made to food production workers. Employees across the country and in Vermont at the Cabot Creamery plant were exposed to unsafe conditions. When this is over, the insurance costs and, inevitably, the lawsuits will soar.

In many counties, schools do not have the facilities to adequately accommodate students. Most taxpayers have no interest in paying for insurance increases and settlement procedures, and we also don’t want teachers (and children) names to appear on the obituary page.

What we need is a compassionate solution that doesn’t hike property taxes while recognizing that many people need to work and watch their children while they are out of school.

We need a state-mandated family vacation program or some other implementation of the vacation programs created under the CARES Act. Maybe we need two shifts in schools to have enough time each day for disinfection, while all or most of the students can participate almost daily at a distance.

Perhaps outdoor education is the answer when the weather is warmer. It seemed to work well for restaurants all summer. Not to mention the many large facilities that larger cities like Claremont and Lebanon have that would be quite good for teaching.

After all, desperate times …

See no evil, hear no evil, say that no evil is not the right approach for New Hampshire, the Upper Valley, or New England and will only result in more unnecessary suffering and death.

CURTIS CLOUGH

Lebanon

Hartford voters are lucky enough to have Ally Tufenkjian

I’m so excited that Ally Tufenkjian is running for the Hartford Selectboard. She’s just the kind of leader Hartford needs; She is a thoughtful problem solver who knows how to get things done.

Never someone to put themselves in the spotlight, she is always passionate about working behind the scenes. Hartford voters may remember seeing “Voter Protection” volunteers outside Hartford High School during the November election. Tufenkjian was a key player in realizing these efforts throughout the Upper Valley. She worked tirelessly to develop training materials, work with city officials, and coordinate volunteers to ensure everyone’s right to vote.

She is also someone who can have tough conversations as people move forward together. In our collaboration as co-committee members of the Upper Valley chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, I have seen her empowering challenging dialogues about racial justice with strength and grace. Hartford has a lot to do in this area and I know she would be a powerful force in holding the city accountable for justice, diversity and inclusion efforts.

After all, as a co-educator, I know that she has the needs of young people and families in the foreground. She would encourage cooperation between the school board and the Selectboard, listen deeply and take the needs of families and teachers seriously.

I fully support Ally Tufenkjian for the Hartford Selectboard. Please vote for her.

JACK PEISCH

South Royalton

The Illegal Fiction of Vermont Property Tax

It is unconstitutional for governments to discriminate against people based on their place of residence under the Constitution’s privilege and immunity clause and the 14th Amendment, which provides equal legal protection. For example, should Vermont have one speed limit for Vermont residents and another for everyone else? Should there be one property tax for Vermont residents and another for everyone else? How about a tax like this for non-resident property owners and none for local residents?

This is the proposal made by a legislative study commission to resolve Vermont’s growing fiscal problems (Panel Pitches Income Tax, Jan. 20). There is a nationwide property tax to fund public education. According to this tax, home ownership is classified as “homestead” or “non-homestead”. This is what some would call legal fiction. I call it an illegal fiction.

A house is a house. Residential properties are residential properties. However, if you live in a house under Vermont law and declare it your legal residence, you will be taxed at a lower rate than if you are a resident outside of the state who owns the same house.

In addition, as a Vermont resident, you are entitled to a discount on your property tax based on your income. Second home owners and non-state residents who own Vermont homes are not eligible for such a discount. That is discrimination.

The proposal would exacerbate that discrimination by abolishing statewide property tax on main homes of Vermont residents, while undoubtedly applying it to out-of-state owners and second homes.

Thus the vice is dressed in such a way that it looks like a virtue in the eyes of the voting public, for the perceived benefit of the public officials, for nothing makes a state legislature more popular than demanding the taxation of all but its voters. It is for this reason that homestead exemption is such a valued facility in the state with the highest relative property tax rates in the United States.

TYLER P. HARWELL

Perkinsville

The cleaning staff is also at the forefront

Has anyone considered everyone that makes up a team? All of the frontline staff in all disciplines in all job descriptions work for us. The employees in the areas of medicine, care, therapy and catering in a hospital could not start their work without a hygienic work environment.

It is right that the medical and nursing staff, who work a lot of long hours of overtime, receive our praise. However, I contend that housekeeping is the real linchpin of hospitals.

You need to enter a contaminated room and clean it thoroughly so that another patient can make the journey to wellbeing. If their tasks are not carried out with the greatest care, there will not be as many success stories as there are.

Maybe they should get free Super Bowl tickets too.

KAREN HOFFMEISTER

Etna