N.H. mayors pledge to back Climate Accord goals

Monitor staff
Published: 7/19/2017 5:58:12 PM

Making use of methane leaking from Lebanon’s landfill. Buying a small hydropower dam in downtown Nashua. Forgoing property tax money from rooftop solar panels in Concord.

Those are some of the costly actions New Hampshire cities and towns took to support the environment that were cited Wednesday by a group of mayors and their representatives urging support for the Paris Agreement.

“States and cities are moving ahead, leading the transition to a clean energy economy,” said Rob Werner, a Concord city council member and state director of the League of Conservation Voters, during a press conference at the Legislative Office Building.

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess and Lebanon Mayor Suzanne Prentiss both showed up and touted actions taken by their municipal governments.

Lebanon has worked for years to tap methane, a potent greenhouse gas, released by its landfill and burn it for energy. Prentiss also pointed to the city’s relationship with the Vital Communities Solarize initiative in the Upper Valley promoting solar panels.

Nashua is in the process of purchasing a 3-megawatt hydropower dam in Mine Falls, along with a 1-megawatt dam they already own.

Those moves are designed to save cities money in the long run by curtailing energy costs, but their usefulness in fighting climate change was part of the motivation, the mayors said.

The Concord city council recently ruled that solar panels on rooftops will not increase the property’s assessed value, slightly lowering the tax money the city would otherwise collect. That move, already made in a number of other municipalities, is designed to help shift some electricity production from traditional power plants.

Donchess also pointed to an online information site called Livable Nashua Dashboard, which provides information about some of the city’s climate-change-related actions and goals including data on electricity production by solar panels in the city, energy usage by city buildings and conservation easements.

“We want to focus on measurable results, measurable data,” said Sarah Marchant, the city’s director of community development. Data on greenhouse gas emissions will eventually be part of the dashboard, she said.

Wednesday’s hearing was organized by the League of Conservation Voters and the New Hampshire chapter of the Sierra Club in response to the decision by President Donald Trump’s administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Several speakers took shots at the administration for the move, and indirectly at Gov. Chris Sununu, who has supported Trump’s decision.

The environmental groups trying to get more New Hampshire cities on board with the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, which has seen more than 300 mayors pledge to adhere to the goals of the Climate Treaty even if the federal government pulls out.

The Sierra Club is also organizing what it calls “Ready for 100,” in which cities join a pledge to switch to 100 percent “clean, renewable energy” – defined as no fossil fuel-based or nuclear power – by 2050.

Also present were Portsmouth Mayor Jim Blalock and Keene Mayor Kendall Lane.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of the monthly Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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