Renewable energy projects are on the rise in New Hampshire as communities look to save money and reduce the risks of climate change.
At a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony, the city of Claremont showed off its new solar array — 432 panels that will help power its highest energy user, the wastewater treatment plant.
City manager Ryan McNutt said there’s no energy source that’s more renewable.
“It gets its energy from photons that come from the sun, which is literally just a giant ball of hydrogen nuclear explosions happening 93 million miles away,” McNutt said. “It produces those photons, we capture them in these solar panels and we monetize them.”
The $328,000 investment has a payback period of 11 years, and officials said it should save the city $800,000 over its 40-year life.
Claremont officials said renewable energy projects are surging because they reduce costs and carbon footprints.
“For the first time ever, we incorporated into the master plan a chapter on energy,” Mayor Charlene Lovett said. “So that right there demonstrates the public’s concern in energy that’s cheaper and energy that’s cleaner.”
Durham is another of the more than 40 municipalities and schools in the state that are adopting solar.
“There’s a state rebate system that’s made these much more viable, economically,” said Jack Ruderman of ReVision Energy. “Solar prices have come down 75 percent over the last eight to nine years.”
Large solar arrays such as the one installed off Route 125 in Brentwood might be the most visible display of renewable energy, but other forms are also on the rise.
“Investing in local biomass for wood pellet heating systems and the like, swapping out your old, expensive oil heating for local renewables like biomass, and then efficiency projects,” said Henry Herndon of the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association.
Herndon said renewable energy has moved from the fringe to the mainstream.
“It’s about taking control of their energy production,” he said.