The citizens of Hanover, New Hampshire, voted in their town meeting of May 9, 2017 to join the “Ready for 100 Action” campaign, to make the town 100% renewably powered, including transportation, by 2050, and to get 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. It was the 29th municipality in the United States, and the first in New Hampshire, to commit to 100% renewable energy. Not only was the vote overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution, but Hanover was the first municipality in the country to pass such a resolution by popular vote.
The commitment marked the conclusion of a long effort by many people. But it also marked a starting point for new actions, and a lot has happened since it was made.
Most recently, a solar array was installed on Hanover’s municipal building by ReVision Energy. ReVision had recently merged with Energy Emporium, of Enfield, New Hampshire, and this gave it a new office where local developments could be managed. The merger also meant that Kimberly Quirk, who had owned Energy Emporium and was familiar with the area, could provide her experience.
Quirk said that the system on the municipal building roof is up and running, adding, “Its 52 panels pretty much cover the roof. Their capacity is 16.5 kilowatts (kW).” The array’s energy is being fed into the grid to help reduce the town’s electricity bill.
She also told me that ReVision Energy has other developments in line for Hanover. I was a bit surprised at how many there are. Right now, ReVision is installing a 70-kW array on the roof of the building at the water reclamation facility. ReVision is also developing a plan for the town for a 700-kW ground-mounted solar system at the Water Department on Grasse Road. Electricity from that system will be used to supply energy for the municipality. These are just the projects ReVision has in the works now.
Sustainable Hanover is working with four installers to start up Solarize Hanover 2, which will install solar systems on rooftops or property of residents at reduced cost. They include ReVision Energy; Solaflect, of Norwich, VT; Catamount Solar, of Randolf, VT; and Norwich Solar Technologies, which is based in White River Junction. Solarize Hanover 2 follows on the heels of a successful predecessor, with similar features.
Another project that Hanover is now looking into is a large solar array for a community solar system. This is in the early stages, and there is no real indication yet of where the array would be, exactly what size it would have, or who would develop it.
The purpose of a community solar system, called a solar garden in some parts of the country, is to provide solar power for homes that do not have a place on site to put a set of photovoltaic panels. Many such households would be in apartments. Also, there are homes with no open areas that are free of shade from mountains, trees, or other buildings.
Julia Griffin, Hanover’s town manager, told me that it is looking further afield to find other sources of energy. For example, the town is examining the idea of buying electricity from the Vineyard Wind, an offshore wind farm in waters off of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Apparently, Vineyard Wind will offer a power purchase agreement for electricity at 6.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, a price that is low for New England.
Griffin told me, “The town of Hanover is designated a Green Power Community, which means that it exceeds EPA guidelines for buying renewable energy. It has also for forty years been designated Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.” Clearly, the commitment to the environment among the people of Hanover has been maintained for a long time.
Perhaps that long effort is the secret of why the people of Hanover voted to commit to 100% renewable energy so overwhelmingly. It is because of the ongoing efforts of a large number of people. Both Griffin and Quirk mentioned the efforts of the Sustainable Hanover Committee, which is part of the municipal government. They also mentioned individuals who had contributed to the effort along the way, people Griffin calls “tireless volunteers and darned smart climate-change worriers.” Among them are Yolanda Baumgartner, Marjorie Rogalski, and Judi Colla.
It is clear that these efforts go well beyond the town limits of Hanover. Griffin has traveled through other parts of this country, encouraging towns and cities to take up their own plans and projects.
Quirk commented on this, “Hanover has really raised the bar for education on where we should be and what we need to do.”