Humanity has a short window of time to transition to a 100% carbon-free economy to avert the worse events of the climate crisis, and towns like Hanover, NH aren't waiting for federal programs to start making big progress. Hanover, NH has taken the "Ready for 100" pledge, and Julia Griffin, Town Manager of Hanover, says, "Forget what the federal government is doing. We need to do it ourselves."
Tomorrow marks the closing date for the Town of Hanover's second Solarize campaign in four years. The 2019 program is the first step in a three-year initiative to increase solar on residential rooftops and on ground-mounted arrays - just one of the ways they will meet their Ready for 100 goals: 100% renewable electricity by 2030, and 100% renewable heating and transportation fuel by 2050. Theirs is a multi-faceted plan that focuses on making it easy and affordable for residents, businesses, institutions, and the town itself to purchase renewable power.
Hanover became the first community in the nation to join the Ready for 100 pledge by means of popular vote in May of 2017, and were just the 29th overall of now more than 133 cities across the nation committed to similar goals. "Ready for 100 struck us as a nicely formulated movement with clear goals and great support from the organizers," Julia said. "It's a great way to get a community focused on a goal."
Solarize Hanover 2019 has generated over 84 site-visits for solar. By partnering with four solar companies in the Upper Valley, including ReVision Energy, they will be able to ensure that all participants can get their solar in time to receive the full 26% tax credit before the end of the year, which for many is an important piece of financing their array. Julia herself is a Solarize participant, albeit in 2015. She had 24 panels installed on her roof with Energy Emporium. "Kim and Anita have been great resources in the Upper Valley - Energy Emporium was probably the earliest entrant into that field," she says.
When the Town of Hanover's plans turned to municipal solar, they went straight to Energy Emporium, Julia says. They installed a 60-panel rooftop array on the Police Station in 2016. Hanover received two bids for a solar project on the Town Hall, one from Energy Emporium and one from ReVision - only to discover that the two companies were joining forces. "When we came together to talk, lo and behold they were coming together," she says. "Working with ReVision on solarizing our municipal roofs has been step one." They celebrated their progress thus far at the end of August with a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Town Hall and Water Reclamation Facility.
Their next priority will be adding solar to the Fire Station, Community Center, and Library, as well as a close to 700 kilowatt solar array at their Water Filtration Plant. "We felt the town needed to ensure that all of our facilities were as energy efficient and net zero as we could get, short of tearing down the existing buildings," says Julia. They are close to generating a megawatt of energy from their solar rooftops, and are looking to add another 2 megawatts near the Water Filtration Facility.
Meanwhile, their institutional partner, Dartmouth College, has been busy solarizing its own rooftops as well, with nine installations completed by ReVision energy to date, totaling over 1500 panels and nearly a half a megawatt of electricity. Julia calls Dartmouth a critical partner in reaching sustainability goals. "We're working with Dartmouth and some of our other large energy users to see if we can generate an agreement to purchase local green power," Julia says.
With the help of a recently signed municipal aggregation bill, this would allow the community to buy power on behalf of its customers, and open up clean energy options for residents and small businesses who are not able to go solar on-site. They have additional initiatives focusing on energy efficient LED lighting, electrical heating, and more. "We're making progress," says Julia.
One of the most exciting things for her is seeing the network of resources grow for those that are done with waiting and ready to take their sustainability fates back into their own hands. "We're organizing and supporting ourselves on the regional level," she says. Already several other NH cities have followed suit and joined Ready for 100, including Concord, Keene, Cornish, and Plainfield, and she looks forward to how Hanover can be a resource and partner for those and other towns taking that important step.
Come spring of 2020, Hanover will pick up Solarize again to continue to build up their renewable energy generating capacity. Getting to 100% is an ongoing task that's unlikely to slow down anytime soon, but that's a good thing. "There's a ton going on for those of us really interested in this field," says Julia. "It's intellectually fascinating, technically fascinating - it's given me my own sense of renewed energy."