Hanover representatives prepare for transition to renewable energy

by Berit Svenson | 1/22/18 2:21am

Since the town became the first municipality in the country to commit to 100 percent renewable energy by community vote, Hanover has been active in furthering that goal. Town representatives attended the second annual national Ready for 100 community meeting in Colorado, according to Hanover town manager Julia Griffin, and proposed community choice aggregation as an affordable prospect for its renewable energy goal, according to Judith Colla, the vice chair of the Upper Valley Group of the Sierra Club. Additionally, other New Hampshire towns — Cornish and The Plains — have proposals to potentially transfer to renewable energies in 2018, said Allyson Samuell, a community organizer for Upper Valley Ready For 100 Sierra Club.

On May 9, 2017, Hanover became the first New Hampshire town to commit to 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2050. This goal was established as part of the Sierra Club’s nationwide campaign Ready for 100, a movement dedicated to implementing solutions that will help communities achieve 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2050.

According to Samuell, Hanover’s ability to become the first U.S. town to approve the Ready for 100 goal by popular vote demonstrated the community’s strong support.

Colla said community choice aggregation — a program that enables municipalities to buy and generate electricity for their residents and businesses of their area — has been discussed a potential option for Hanover’s transition toward renewable energy.

Over the past year, Hanover residents have taken significant steps to begin their transition to total reliance on clean energy. Griffin was among residents who had jump-started the movement two years prior to the vote as a private citizen, installing 24 solar panels on her roof and ultra-low temperature heat pumps in her home.

“By making that investment, in about 10.5 to 11 years, we won’t be paying for electricity anymore,” Griffin said. “We will be significantly more fuel-efficient than we are now and at no cost.”

Recognizing the high prices of many renewable energy sources, Griffin noted the importance of breaking down socioeconomic barriers to contributing to the town’s goal.

“You’ve got to make it possible for everybody to get involved,” Griffin said. “Not just people who happen to have enough disposable income to put solar panels on the roof or put in a new ultra efficient furnace or install heat.”

Samuell attributed the town’s commitment to Griffin’s leadership as “an incredible town manager who really sees the vision for Hanover being powered by 100 percent renewable energy.”

In late July 2017, Hanover teamed up with Dartmouth to travel to Golden, Colorado for the second-annual meeting for Ready for 100 communities.

Griffin said that Hanover was the town at the conference of approximately 50 communities that also brought their institutional partner — the College — to the meeting.

Samuell noted that a significant amount of work towards sustainability is now being accomplished at the city level rather than the federal level.

“It’s gaining a lot of momentum,” Samuell said. “We’re pretty much seeing a commitment a week in 2018.”

This movement is instrumental in the “mitigation of climate change,” according to Samuell.

With the transition to cleaner energy sources, the town plans to further reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are very mindful of saving energy,” Colla said. “Not just switching to renewables, but also making our buildings more efficient and our lifestyles less dependent on the automobile.”

Colla added that Hanover hopes to collaborate with other towns to “ultimately slow down global warming by acting locally and thinking globally.”

Correction Appended (Jan. 22, 2018):

The Jan. 22 article "Hanover representatives prepare for transition to renewable energy" was updated to more accurately reflect statement attribution, specifically that Hanover town manager Julia Griffin said that town representatives attended the second annual national Ready for 100 meeting.