Peterborough’s commitment to renewables may have set

  • Electric meter energy power Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/28/2021 8:32:40 AM

Two weeks ago, Peterborough voters committed the town to transition to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, and renewable heating and transportation by 2050. The article’s primary goal is to help mitigate the climate crisis, although it can also aid economic development, create jobs, improve the resilience of the electrical grid, protect public health, and improve social justice, according to sponsoring organization Peterborough Energy Action.

Although Peterborough is one of more than 170 municipalities nationwide to take such a pledge, “Our Town” may have involved more voters in the process than any other, PEA team lead DoriDrachman said, a distinction that, to her, reflects the importance of its goal. The PEA discovered this distinction after the vote during conversations with the Sierra Club, which sponsors “Ready for 100” campaigns nationwide. The initiative has gained more traction in urban rather than rural areas so far, so usually, a city council would vote on it rather than the general population, Drachman said. Although a handful of other New Hampshire towns have passed similar resolutions, those votes took place during an open session of Town Meeting, she said, where a couple hundred voters may have participated. By contrast, Peterborough passed the article 1286 to 456. That means almost a third of Peterborough’s total population weighed in on the decision, “and three-quarters of them want us to be doing this,” Drachman said. Keene, Concord, Hanover, Cornish, and Plainfield are the other New Hampshire municipalities that have taken the pledge.

Although the article tasks the town to lead the community in improving energy efficiency and transitioning its institutions, businesses, and residences to renewable energy sources, it’s not a legally binding commitment and doesn’t mandate changes to citizens’ private property or behavior. Residents who don’t wish to participate in transitioning to clean energy don’t have to do so, the PEA said in a press release.

“We are excited to start the real work of transitioning to clean energy,” Drachman said. “Our next step is likely to be working with town officials and staff to get input from residents about their energy priorities, aspirations and concerns.”

Drachman said she expected to have more concrete information about the town’s next steps on the initiative in the next couple weeks. The PEA is interested in helping the Select Board in its next steps, but the town is now the ultimate decision maker in the process, she said.

The article tasks the town with assembling a committee that will develop a plan to meet the town’s energy goals, to be completed by the end of 2022. A community power agreement is likely to be an integral part of the plan, Drachman said, and the best way to equitably offer renewable electricity to residents.

People who are interested in getting involved, or are interested in learning more about the resolution and the next steps in the process can visit peterboroughenergyaction.org or write to info@peterboroughenergyaction.org.


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