The Town of Hanover, NH has just achieved another important milestone in their transition to 100% renewable energy with the installation of a 66.4 kilowatt solar array on the roof of the Fire Department. "The Town's goal is to install a total of 3 Megawatts in municipal rooftop and ground-mounted solar which will fully provision the Town's electricity consumption," says Town Manager Julia Griffin who has been a leader in prioritizing investment in renewable energy infrastructure in Hanover.
While strong support from leadership is essential to their objective, the Town's drive for sustainability comes directly from the community itself. Hanover became the first municipality in the nation to commit to Ready for 100 goals by means of a popular vote in 2017.
"The Town of Hanover is committed to solarizing every municipal building rooftop in our inventory as we 'walk the talk' toward the entire community's commitment to utilizing 100% green electricity by 2030," says Julia. Their Ready for 100 pledge also includes reaching 100% renewable energy for all energy sources including heating and transportation by the year 2050.
Hanover is already well on its way to its goals. Julia calls the Fire Station array "just the next step in the Town's walk," joining arrays on the Police Department, Water Reclamation Facility, Town Hall, Salt Storage Building and Heavy Equipment Building. Power Purchase Agreements for the projects have allowed the town to purchase electricity from the arrays at a competitive rate, with the option to buy the projects at a significant reduction in price in 5-7 years and own them outright, along with all the power they produce.
The new 183-panel array installed in May on the Lyme Road Police and Fire Headquarters will produce roughly 73,961 kilowatt-hours annually to offset electricity use on site, with any excess being fed back to the grid to benefit surrounding businesses and residences. The array was designed in three sections to accommodate the different roof surfaces, with two sections of ballasted arrays on the flat rooftops, and 34 of the panels on the sloped shingle roof facing the road. While most of the array is hidden from view, the 34 panels framing the entrance to the public safety complex will serve as a visible symbol of Hanover's commitment to clean energy.
Other initiatives to increase the renewable energy portfolio for the Town have included multiple Solarize campaigns to make residential solar more accessible for homeowners, and energy efficiency awareness campaigns, for both homeowners and businesses. Hanover's collegiate partner Dartmouth has close to a half-Megawatt of solar already installed on its own rooftops, and partnering with them may open an opportunity for Hanover to purchase green, renewable energy that will be affordable for local businesses and homes that are unable to go solar on site.
Julia noted that producing a significant portion of the energy they consume locally was important, to ensure they are contributing to a renewable energy grid and not just drawing from it. Locally harvested solar energy not only helps fortify the grid locally, but benefits the taxpayers in long-term cost savings over the 40+ year lifespan of the systems. With systems already installed and more municipal systems in the works including a 2-Megawatt ground-mounted array, Hanover can expect energy savings in the millions, with the beacon of fully offsetting all of their carbon emissions as a guiding light. The future is looking sunny for Hanover.