Broadband for All: A Priceless Opportunity

By Leo Dwyer

High-speed internet is coming to rural New Hampshire. It can’t happen too soon!

Before COVID-19 hit last year, residents of many Granite State communities were raising their voices about the need for 21st-century broadband so they could enjoy the kind of connectivity people in more densely populated areas take for granted. When the pandemic sent us home to work and learn, broadband flipped from nice-to-have to must-have.

Now, thanks to a bipartisan national push to provide government support, New Hampshire has a rare opportunity to build fast, “future-proof” broadband for its residents at a scale and pace unimaginable just two years ago. That’s the message of the just-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The Infrastructure Act sends a minimum of $100 million to New Hampshire for broadband expansion to unserved and under-served communities. That’s on top of the $121 million New Hampshire already has in hand for such projects under the American Rescue Plan Act.

That $221 million investment is truly a NH broadband game-changer. It dovetails with the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative’s big goal, announced earlier this year, to ensure that reliable and affordable high speed broadband service is available to every one of our members, and to achieve that goal within three years.

This could simply not happen without government funding. Providing reliable high-speed internet to low-density rural communities requires up-front investment. And as we’ve seen, the for-profit internet providers have not been interested in making those types of investments on their own.

It’s exactly like the situation eight decades ago. Rural America lacked electric power until the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 set up a national system of member-owned electric utilities, including NH Electric Co-op.

How did New Hampshire get to the verge of closing the rural broadband gap? It started two years ago with individual towns like Chesterfield taking the initiative and floating bonds for small single town fiber networks which they turned over to for-profit operators to provide service.

Meanwhile a different model has emerged. The member-owned NH Electric Co-op has taken up the challenge, committing to deliver broadband service on a more regional scale. Last year members overwhelmingly endorsed the idea twice in two separate votes.

This past December the Co-op lit up fiber in four towns. Its new nonprofit subsidiary, NH Broadband, is currently expanding that initial build to two more towns that go live this spring. These initiatives make world class gigabit internet service available to 2,500 of the Co-op’s most underserved members at an affordable price.

That’s a meaningful start. But members’ needs, and economic imperatives argue strongly for a comprehensive regional approach. It will take cooperation between the Co-op, municipalities, counties, and regional planers to ensure that coverage in rural NH is widespread. Broadband fiber needs to go down every dirt road to reach every house, no matter who the electric supplier is.

The $221 million in federal funding is a game changer, but these grant funds will provide only a part of the necessary funding. The Co-op has already committed significant resources to our plan; it will continue to invest more as we look to join with like-minded institutions to help maximize the aggregate benefit of that $221 million to the residents of rural New Hampshire.

It’s no accident that some 400 electric co-ops around the nation are leading the way in building rural broadband networks. The Co-op model has important advantages:

  • Nonprofit, member-owned co-ops have low return-on-investment requirements for these capital-intensive networks compared to for-profit providers’ 15 to 20 percent ROI targets. That translates into sustainable lower subscriber rates for high-speed service.
  • The infrastructure needed for broadband, including rights-of-way and poles, is the same that co-ops use to deliver electricity to members.
  • Fiber-optic infrastructure offers important synergies for the electrical side of the business, improving grid reliability and efficiency, providing the ability for more renewable generating sources, giving members greater control over their bills, and helping pinpoint outages and speeding restoration of service.

On top of all that, broadband access means higher property values, better services, and the ability to live a fully connected life. For many working professionals and students, that makes it possible to remain in – or move to – the beautiful rural communities that make New Hampshire such an attractive place to live.

Now that substantial new funding is beginning to flow, time is of the essence. Competition is keen for necessary resources – the fiber, the skilled installers, the specialized trucks. We need to act quickly.

Because of the high capital investment required to serve sparsely populated areas, whoever builds fiber in rural communities will hold an unregulated, long-term lock on broadband services. Those communities will be best-served if that power falls to organizations like NHEC that are owned by the citizens they serve.

The payoff will be transformative: A wide swath of rural New Hampshire will get connected to priceless economic, educational and lifestyle opportunities now beyond their reach.

Leo Dwyer is on the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative’s board of directors and is Executive Chair of NH Broadband LLC, its broadband subsidiary. NHEC serves 85,000 members in 118 New Hampshire communities.

NHEC Sets Winter Power Rates

PLYMOUTH, NH – (October 7, 2021) New Hampshire Electric Cooperative’s (NHEC) Board of Directors has approved changes to the Co-op Power rate and Regional Access Charge, which will result in an overall bill increase for most residential members of about 17%, or $17.19. The new rates will take effect with bills rendered on or after November 1, 2021.

The Co-op Power portion of members’ bills will increase from the current summertime rate of 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 9.8 cents per kWh for the winter. The Co-op Power charge includes the cost that NHEC pays to purchase electricity from the wholesale electricity market. The cost of this power is directly passed through to members who have not chosen to purchase electricity from a competitive supplier. NHEC does not add any additional charges or fees to its Co-op Power rate, and it does not fund NHEC’s operations. Last November, NHEC set its winter rate at 7.8 cents per kWh.

The primary reason for the increase is a sharp spike in the price of natural gas over the past several months. Natural gas prices are now double what they were last year at this time. Natural gas-fueled power plants account for more than half of the generating capacity in New England, meaning the market price of electricity often follows the cost of natural gas.

“Natural gas and electricity prices in New England are closely linked,” said Brian Callnan, NHEC Vice President of Power Resources & Access. “As the price of natural gas has risen over the past several months, so has the cost to purchase electricity to serve our members. We know this increase will be difficult for our members, as it will be for electric and gas customers throughout New England, and we will continue to work hard to find opportunities to reduce energy costs wherever we can.”

NHEC members who have difficulty paying their bills are encouraged to contact the Co-op at (800) 698-2007. NHEC can help members set up payment arrangements, connect them with financial assistance, as well as energy efficiency and weatherization programs, which can reduce their energy usage and lower their bills. In addition, NHEC members can take advantage of competitive supply options for electricity service, which can be compared at the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission website – Members can also view and manage their electric usage online through NHEC’s website,, or by downloading the SmartHub app for mobile or PC.

The November 1 rate changes will also include a 2% increase in the Regional Access Charge portion of members’ bills. The Regional Access Charge includes the costs NHEC pays transmission companies to deliver electricity to its distribution system. The rate change also includes the state-required refund of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) proceeds. As with the Co-op Power rate, the costs NHEC incurs from transmission companies are passed directly through to members without additional fees or charges.

NOTICE: Disposal of Fleet & Equipment

New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) is preparing to offer for bid, vehicles and equipment that are ready for disposition. This bid offering is being made available to the membership, Co-op employees and retirees with the disposal process and listing of vehicles as follows.

Member Solutions representatives cannot answer questions regarding vehicles and equipment being disposed. All questions will be answered during the two vehicle and equipment viewing dates listed.

Bid sheets for submitting bids may be picked up at the viewings. A separate sheet for each vehicle bid must be submitted. Sealed bids are due by the end of the workday (4:30 p.m.) Monday, November 8, 2021.  Vehicles are sold “As Is” and “Where Is” without warranties of any kind whatsoever. NHEC reserves the right to reject any and all bids.  NOT responsible for bids lost in the mail or late.


 Viewing dates and times:

Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Thursday, October 28, 2021, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Bids due:

Monday 8, 2021 by 4:30 p.m.


Vehicle/Equipment removal:

No later than November 29, 2021.


Vehicle viewing location:

NHEC Vehicle Maintenance facility

533 Tenney Mountain Highway

Plymouth, NH

Successful Bidders: 

Payment must be made and vehicle(s) removed by Monday, November, 29, 2021. Payment will only be accepted in the form of certified check.   You will be called if you are the highest bidder and an appointment must be made to process the paperwork.


*Information on the vehicles and equipment will be provided only at the scheduled viewing dates listed.  Please do not contact the Co-op about vehicle and equipment conditions.

High-Speed Internet Coming to Acworth and Sandwich


PLYMOUTH, NH (July 22, 2021) – New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) is moving forward with plans to make high-speed internet service available to more than 1,500 homes and businesses in the towns of Sandwich and Acworth.

NHEC, through its subsidiary NH Broadband, will construct fiber optic networks to provide high-speed internet service throughout both communities. Service is expected to be available early 2022. NHEC will be communicating directly with residents of both towns in the coming months and will be providing updates at

The project in Sandwich would be supported by federal funding that U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Congressman Chris Pappas are working to secure. If received, the funding will help reduce the cost of construction.

Residents of Sandwich and Acworth can pre-register for service and learn more about the project at NH Broadband offers internet service options that are designed to meet customers’ needs today and into the future with symmetrical Gigabit upload and download speeds available.

NH Broadband was founded in 2020 to meet the critical need of NHEC’s members for high-speed internet access. Since then, NH Broadband has made high-speed internet service available to more than 1,000 NHEC members in Lempster, Clarksville, Colebrook and Stewartstown.

“Providing high-speed internet access to the residents and businesses of Sandwich and Acworth are the next steps towards NHEC’s goal of ensuring that all our members have access to the reliable broadband they need,” said Jeff Morrill, Chair of the Co-op’s Board of Directors. “The Co-op is moving quickly to expand our existing networks and take advantage of emerging funding opportunities. We appreciate Senator Shaheen and Congressman Pappas’sefforts to secure funding to support this project and the hard work and dedication of the residents in both towns.”

“We appreciate the Co-op’s recognition of the Town’s dire need for 21st-century internet service and the citizen committee’s efforts in making it happen,” said Joanne Haight Chair of the Sandwich Board of Selectmen.

“Acworth is pleased to announce that NHEC will be providing high-speed broadband internet to our town,” said Gregg Thibodeau, Acworth Broadband Committee Lead. “We have been looking at options to bring broadband service to the town due to the increase in demand for broadband service and the COVID pandemic. NHEC through their due diligence in proving their ability and obtaining federal funds quickly became our number one choice to partner with. Our town’s experience with NHEC as a utility company has been great, their broadband architecture is state of the art, their broadband service costs are competitive and we received really good feedback from the work they are doing rolling out broadband in Lempster.”

NHEC’s expansion decisions are made based on the availability of grants, proximity to existing networks, and interest expressed by residents. NHEC has reached out to communities throughout its electric service territory to coordinate efforts and achieve the shared goal of providing high-speed internet access to the unserved and underserved areas of New Hampshire.

NHEC Announces CEO Departure

PLYMOUTH, NH (July 6, 2021) – New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) today announced the departure of President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Steve Camerino.

Camerino has accepted a position with McLane Middleton, Professional Association, a regional law firm based in New Hampshire, to be their Executive Director and CEO. Camerino joined NHEC as President and CEO in March 2015. Before joining the Co-op, Camerino spent over 30 years as an attorney at McLane Middleton.

“The entire Co-op Board joins me in thanking Steve for his hard work and contributions to NHEC,” said Jeffery Morrill, Chair of the Board of Directors. “We congratulate Steve on this new opportunity with McLane Middleton and wish him success in this exciting new venture. Over the past six years Steve has guided the Co-op and achieved a great deal on behalf of our members. Steve’s steady leadership and commitment to our members will be missed and we wish him the best.”

“It was a difficult decision to leave the Co-op, and I wish my colleagues the best,” said Camerino. “Serving NHEC’s members for the past six years as President and CEO has been an honor and a privilege. I’m looking forward to the next steps, but I will always look back fondly on my time with the Co-op.”

Camerino’s last day at NHEC will be August 6. During that time he will be coordinating with NHEC’s Board of Directors to ensure a smooth transition. The Board has created a committee that has begun the search for the Co-op’s next CEO.

Members Reelect Four Incumbents to NHEC Board of Directors

PLYMOUTH, NH – Members of New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) have reelected four members to the company’s Board of Directors.

A total of six candidates were running for election to four open seats on the Co-op’s 11-member Board of Directors. As a member-owned cooperative, NHEC is governed by Directors who are elected by the membership. The four candidates elected by NHEC’s members were Jeffrey Morrill of Holderness, Brenda Boisvert of Campton, Daniel Senie of Charlestown and Edward French of Raymond. All four winning candidates are incumbent Board members and will serve three-year terms.

Below are the full results of the 2021 Board of Directors election.

Jeffrey Morrill              5,548
Brenda Boisvert          4,582
Daniel Senie               4,419
Edward French           3,833
John Goodrich            3,791
Carla Muskat              3,710

At NHEC’s Board Organizational Meeting on June 16, 2021 the Board of Directors elected the following officers to serve one-year terms:

Chair of the Board – Jeffrey Morrill

Vice Chair of the Board – Daniel Senie

Treasurer – Edward French

Assistant Treasurer – Carolyn Kedersha

Secretary – Brenda Boisvert