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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Coos County NH Communities Vote for Clean Energy

A 15kW solar array installed on the Shelburne town hall in collaboration with Clean Energy NH. The solar array offsets all of the electricity consumed annually by the town hall. (Photo: Melissa Elander)

Sam Evans-Brown

This year during town meeting season, five Coos County (NH) communities approved funding for solar and energy efficiency projects which combined will result in over a half a million dollars in energy savings over their lifetimes, and leverage as much as $340 thousand dollars in grant support.

  • The Town of Whitefield voted unanimously to replace and insulate the roof of their fire station, and put solar arrays on the roofs of the fire station, library and town buildings, totaling 66 kW in generation capacity.
  • Franconia voted to install an 18.2kW ground mounted solar array behind their town hall.
  • Randolph set aside $20,000 for an energy efficiency capital reserve fund to improve the energy performance of municipal buildings.
  • The Gorham-Randolph-Shelburne Cooperative school district voted to fund a 124kW ground-mounted solar array to help offset the electrical bills of the Edward Fenn Elementary School.
  • The Town of Gorham voted to create a $10,000 capital reserve fund to install solar on municipal buildings.
  • The Town of Stratford voted to install a 50kW solar array at the town transfer station, after having already installed a 20kW array at the town hall in 2021.

In all, these projects are expected to generate more than six million kilowatt hours of clean electricity for these communities over a 25-year period. The energy savings will not only reduce the local municipal energy bills but also push down regional wholesale electricity prices whenever the arrays are generating power.

“We are excited to be a part of the solution and hope we get the grant,” said Gorham Randolph Shelburne Cooperative School District Superintendent David Backler.

These are just the latest projects that have been helped across the finish line by Clean Energy NH’s North Country Circuit Rider, Melissa Elander, who offers technical assistance—free-of-charge—to Coos County towns that want to deploy clean energy and reduce their energy bills. “These votes are representative of the momentum that is building in the North Country,” said Elander. “Towns are seeing they can save on their municipal budgets by investing in these projects.”

The Circuit Rider program is funded by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund and has recently announced that it will be expanding its offerings with a second position, the Community Energy Coordinator. This new position will offer free technical assistance to small businesses that want to reduce their energy.

The Circuit Rider concept is simple, but powerful. We at Clean Energy NH simply connect towns and businesses to existing programs and help them access funds that are already available. It’s a program we can and should be offering all throughout New Hampshire, and we are currently seeking funding by adding more circuit riders covering different parts of the state.

The North Country Circuit rider program began in 2018, and has helped communities complete over two dozen projects, which have attracted over a half a million dollars in competitive grant funding and are saving those communities over $150,000 a year in energy costs.

Towns or small businesses interested in engaging with the Circuit Rider program should contact Melissa Elander via email at melissa@cleanenergynh.org.

Sam Evans-Brown is the Executive Director of Clean Energy NH.

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