Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Citizen Participation in 100% Renewable Energy Goals in Hanover, NH

By Barbara Callaway

Last year Hanover, NH adopted the goals of using 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% renewable energy for heating and transportation by 2050. The town is actively taking steps to reach these goals. An organized group in Hanover, the Neighborhood Action Group (NAG), is working to encourage neighborhood residents to have fun and get to know one another as well as to talk about how citizens and neighborhoods can work toward the town’s renewable energy goals.

Many neighborhoods already have informal networks via email or other social media, and the Neighborhood Action Group wants to encourage neighbors to use the existing networks to share energy information. Each neighborhood has different needs and interests, and there is much expertise in each neighborhood as well as people making huge strides in moving toward renewable energy. For example, in one neighborhood, a net-zero house is being built, and the owner is willing to share information about this new house with other neighbors. In another neighborhood, neighbors have been bringing their leaf waste to a common area for years and now have a rich source of compost for their plants. The NAG believes that there is much already being done, and that we can use this and learn from one another how to help meet our town’s energy goals.

A couple of neighborhood groups have already met. In one group two ideas came up which could benefit many neighbors. One neighbor expressed frustration about all the trees near her house which keep her from being able to have solar panels on her roof. Her suggestion was to get together as a group and see if a tree company would reduce prices for individual households for taking down some of the bigger trees if they contracted as a group. We are now pursuing this idea. Another idea was to develop some way to have yard waste collected. There may be ideas which are being tried such as the neighborhood with the leaf waste common area that we can learn about and use as a group.

Neighborhood groups can also be used to gather information from citizens that might be useful to the Town of Hanover as well as to get information to citizens in the town.

The next big project for the NAG is to organize a Green Lawnmower Brigade for the Town of Hanover Fourth of July parade (see article on page 3 of this issue). We want to let citizens know that there are alternatives to gas lawn equipment which are quieter, generate zero emissions and save money. One EPA study shows that for every horsepower of its rating, a typical lawn mower emits air pollution equivalent to that of 3.67 automobiles driving at 55 MPH. The replacement of a single 24 hp diesel or gas mower with a 24 hp electric mower is the equivalent of removing 88 such cars.

We are inviting neighbors to bring people-powered mowers, their electric lawn mowers and other electric lawn equipment, and march with us in the Fourth of July parade.

We also want our neighbors to know that there are other strategies to promote efficient lawn care as well. To reduce the amount of mowing you actually do, you can reduce the size of your lawn by planting pollinator gardens and edible landscapes. To improve the efficiency of your current mower or leaf blower, make sure you have it serviced every year. If you are ready to upgrade your equipment, consider going electric.

It has been exciting to find out what other people are doing to reduce their carbon footprints. It is not a matter of pressuring one another to make changes. Rather it is knowing what changes one can make, knowing that every step helps and celebrating all that we can do together. It is empowering and synergistic!

To learn more, contact Barbara Callaway at

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