This past year has been a very busy year for the Plainfield and Cornish Energy Committees. We put most of our effort into the R100% Action campaign to help our towns commit to the goal to decrease our towns’ reliance on fossil fuels and embrace 100% renewable energy resources by 2050. The impetus for this goal is to achieve the public benefits of protecting the economic, health and social well-being of our citizens; to reduce energy costs to the community and to keep energy dollars in the local economy; as well as to reduce the risks to the community associated with any future escalation in energy prices, and to address the threat of global climate change.
Our Energy Committees have the same values and mission to encourage energy conservation, energy efficiency practices and to promote the use of renewable energy in homes, businesses and public buildings through education and community outreach, although we have somewhat different demographics. But we are quite different from our surrounding neighbors of Lebanon, Hanover, Claremont and from our neighbors in Vermont, so we’ve had to tailor our programs to meet our towns’ needs and available resources.
Our Energy Committees have been working as a close knit team since Solarize Upper Valley in 2014. Our Solar initiative continues with over 70 residences generating more than 250kW of renewable electricity. That’s about 5% of our residential usage now - but that’s a 10 fold increase from 5 years ago. We also installed in EV charging station near the border of our towns on Rt12A.
Together, we have conducted numerous button-up workshops to help home owners make their houses more energy efficient by doing low cost upgrades. We are in the midst of the Weatherize Upper Valley program to help our townspeople stay warm and save energy by air sealing and insulating their homes, with over half of our 60+ participants eligible to receive up to $4000 in improvement rebates.
Plainfield has just completed a three year project to make our town office more energy efficient, and with a $17000 Moose Plate grant, restored our historic windows and installed new storm windows, which lowered our heating and cooling costs.
Also this year, the Plainfield Selectboard signed a Resolution In Support Of Climate Action, and Cornish submitted a petition to Governor Sununu signed by 65 residents in support of the same climate action initiative.
But by far, the greatest amount of our time this past year was focused on our Ready for 100% Action campaign to help our towns commit to the goal to decrease our towns’ reliance on fossil fuels and embrace 100% renewable energy by 2050.
This goal was presented to both our towns in the form of articles to be voted on at Town Meeting. And after a year of hard work preparing for the vote, this past March, both our towns overwhelmingly voted to commit to 100% renewable energy, to become the second and third towns in New Hampshire to make this commitment.
In preparation for our town meeting vote on our respective articles to commit to 100% renewable energy, we embarked on a year-long educational campaign to gather support. Some of the events we sponsored were:
Whats the Big Deal About Carbon seminar
Global Calculator seminar
Solar Expo (with the Lebanon Energy Committee)
Heating without Oil presentation
The Messenger film showing and discussion (with the Meriden Bird Club)
EV Expo (with the Kearsarge Energy Committee)
Button Up Workshop
Battery Power presentation
R100 Launch Event
Clean Disruption film and discussion – highly recommend
Although we heavily use electronic media, with help from a $1000 Grassroots Fund Seed grant, we were able to do mass postal mailings to reach everyone in our towns to be sure everyone knew about our R100 initiative and Weatherize program.
Passing the R100 article shows that our towns strongly supports renewable energy. This makes it much easier for us to collaborate with other organizations working on this issue. We are now adding our voice to send a strong message to our elected leaders and our nation that we think this is important.
Having a goal with specific dates rather than being open-ended, gives us a framework to work within. We will have a way to measure our progress even if we don't meet the 100% goal.
Now our real work begins. The commitment to 100% renewable serves as a compass to guide the future energy decisions in our towns. We expect many technological developments in the next few years; which ones are best for us are yet to be determined. Our job as an energy committee is to make sure all Plainfield and Cornish residents have access to the ones they want.
Going forward, we can envision community solar which would allow anyone to buy solar electricity (at a lower cost) without the expense of installing their own solar system. Or maybe buying renewable power within a microgrid that is generated locally in Lebanon or Hanover. And electric cars that can be recharged as easily as getting gas, and cost the same as your car does now, may be available sooner than we think.
We hope we can be an example for other towns to commit to 100% Renewable Energy Resources by 2050.
Visit the Plainfield Energy Committee's group profile: https://grassrootsfund.org/groups/plainfield-energy-committee-0
More information on our events and projects can be found at http://www.plainfieldnh.org/energy/energy.htm
More information on the Ready for 100% campaign: https://www.sierraclub.org/ready-for-100