Closing in on 100% Renewable Energy
Robert Taylor and April Salas
In May 2017, Hanover residents endorsed a vision for achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2030, and heating and transportation by 2050. Town Manager Julia Griffin kept saying the town had to “walk the talk.” The town is doing just that!
On December 28, 2020, Hanover flipped a switch on a solar array next to the water treatment plant and more than tripled its home-grown solar electricity production. And next summer, the total will more than double again. The result is the town will be providing about 92% of the electricity demands of its buildings and facilities with renewable energy generated right here in Hanover.
“This success is the culmination of years of hard work by Hanover’s dedicated community volunteers, the Sustainable Hanover Committee, and Town Staff in Planning and Zoning, and Public Works,” said April Salas, Hanover’s inaugural Sustainability Director. “And we are very proud to lead the way,” she added. Residents saw the town’s first solar panels go up on the south facing roof of the police department back in 2015. Four years later, panels had been installed on the roofs of the town hall, equipment storage building, the salt storage building of the Public Works Department and on the Water Reclamation Facility. But the cumulative generating capacity of these added up to less than 300 kW DC, less than 15% percent of the town’s power consumption. The town had a long way to go.
Help was on the way. Diligently, town staff and advisors had been working on a major advance. Using an agreement to purchase the power from an investor, the town had 1,872 solar panels erected on the grounds of the Grasse Roads Water Treatment Facility. When they were activated last December, they brought the town’s solar power up to almost half of the energy needed to run the town’s buildings and facilities, needs that had been boosted by the installation of heat pumps to heat and cool many of the town buildings instead of fossil fuel boilers. A second, even bigger phase of that Grasse Road solar farm is due to be completed this summer. When that goes on line, the town’s solar panels are expected to power almost all of its electricity needs.
The Grasse Road project is a well-kept secret for much of the town’s people. It stands on a little-used road out of sight of state route 10. The town has lots of other hurdles to clear before it meets its “Ready for 100” goals., but the Grasse Road project is a big leap forward.
Julia Griffin noted “Sustainable Hanover volunteers, the Select board and Town staff have been dogged in their determination to take the lead by showing the way. We have been joined by nearly 200 homeowners who have also installed solar or purchased panels in a NH community solar installation and Dartmouth College has also installed solar aggressively. This community is determined to make progress on the renewable energy front.”