Empowering NH communities to realize their own clean energy transition

Henry Herndon

In spring 2017, local energy leaders from Dover, Durham, Lee, Northwood, and Portsmouth launched Energize360 in an effort to educate and empower their neighbors with the knowledge and the tools to bring about the clean energy transition from the bottom up. Five months later, the Energize360 team celebrates the conclusion of Wave #1 and reflects on their successes to date.

Energize360 by the numbers:

  • > 68 contracts for renewable energy systems (solar PV, mini-split heat pumps, solar hot water heating, etc.)
  • > 80 home energy audits
  • > 30 home energy efficiency upgrades and counting
  • > 25 educational workshops and open houses on energy efficiency and solar incentives in 9 municipalities
  • 1 new Local Energy Committee (congratulations Northwood!)

I have been working with Local Energy Committees across Rockingham and Strafford counties for almost a year now, and the drive and involvement of municipal leaders is expanding by the day. Leaders across the region, from Kensington to Strafford, Northwood to New Castle, are hard at work educating their communities about how they can save energy dollars and reduce carbon footprints.

Energize360 began with a competitive bidding process through which Yankee Thermal Imaging and ReVision Energy were selected as the program’s energy efficiency and renewable energy vendor partners. The partnership offers communities the opportunity to tap their collective purchasing power to drive down the cost of investing in the energy transition.

Since its launch, our program has expanded to more than a dozen towns, partnering with local energy committees and sustainability-minded groups like Transition Town Exeter.

Durham Energy Committee Chair Charlie Forcey sees Energize360 as one part of a statewide movement to accelerate the sustainable energy transition. “We’ve been in touch with Keene’s Climate Committee, who is planning their own efficiency campaign. Vital Communities is gearing up for a weatherization program in the upper valley. And these are just a few of the sustainability initiatives that are happening all over the state and working to support one another.”

The grassroots movement caught the eye of national players as well and received encouraging endorsements from both U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan.

Another unique aspect of the program is the “social fund.” For every homeowner that goes solar through Energize360, ReVision Energy will donate one solar panel to a community energy project. For every weatherization job completed through Energize360, Yankee Thermal Imaging will donate labor and materials to weatherizing a community center, multi-family housing complex, or the like. “One of our goals is to expand the benefits of efficiency and renewables to reach those who typically have less access,” said Walter King, Chair of the Dover Energy Commission.

Energize360 aims to provide citizens with all of the information they need to optimize efficiency of their homes and to produce clean energy. Their message is Measure energy use, Reduce consumption with efficiency, and Renew with solar energy. Or, as Scott Albert of Hampton is fond of saying, “you have to eat your efficiency vegetables before you can have your renewable energy dessert.”

Momentum for sustainable energy is exploding everywhere I look. People are getting educated and bringing about the clean energy transition for themselves from the bottom up. So I would like to say thanks to New Hampshire’s local energy leaders – you give me optimism that a sustainable energy future may not be as far off as it sometimes seems.

Energize360 is comprised of the following members:

  • Walter King, Chair, Dover Energy Commission
  • Bill Baber, Dover Energy Commission
  • Charlie Forcey, Chair, Durham Energy Committee
  • Renay Allen, Exeter Transition Town, Exeter Co-lead
  • Stephanie Marshall, Exeter Co-lead
  • Scott Albert, Principal, GDS Associates, Hampton Team-lead
  • Susan Varn, Kensington Team-lead
  • Sharon Meeker, Lee Energy Committee
  • Jana Petrikova, Lee Energy Committee
  • David Borden, New Castle Energy Committee
  • Diana Anderson, Northwood Energy Committee
  • Steve Workman, SEAREI, Portsmouth Team-lead
  • Tom Pfau, Rye Energy Committee
  • Chris Reagan, Strafford Team-lead
  • Charlie Case, Stratham Energy Committee
  • Henry Herndon, Program Coordinator

To learn more about Energize360, please contact Henry Herndon at 781-439-2177 or [email protected].