By Chris Paul
During the second meeting of the Londonderry Energy Task Force, on Thursday night, March 31, members were given a presentation by two members of the Derry NetZero Task Force on their efforts made to save tax dollars through energy use in the neighboring community.
Task Force founder and Derry Town Council chairman Josh Bourdon and Jeff Moulton, NetZero chairman gave the Londonderry committee an overview of their achievements over the past several years.
Bourdon started by explaining that he felt that what was achieved in Derry was “historical and spectacular” and he’s looking to spread the word to as many communities that will listen. He said, “Our focus in Derry was to focus on one thing and one thing only, using energy as a way to bring down our tax rate.”
Their Task Force was created with people who were charged with finding “green energy” solutions. The efforts of their committee has helped the town realize plans for one of the largest solar fields in the state of New Hampshire.
This solar complex with ultimately enable the town of Derry creating more energy than is used by municipality.
The two also explained that their efforts really took a big jump after recent state legislation allowed municipalities to get credited for power that went back into the power grid over five megawatts of power. Prior to that, only small projects under one megawatt were able to take advantage of the energy savings.
In their presentation they explained their committee plan was to reduce town costs and replace carbon sourced fuels with renewable energy wherever possible.
• Create cost effective solutions for reduced energy use on town-controlled properties.
• Produce enough renewable energy to meet the municipal portion of the town’s annual electricity consumption by 2025 and achieve Net Zero for this segment
• Educate & assist schools, businesses and residential homeowners in evaluating and implementing their own renewable energy projects.
• Evaluate Feasibility of converting Town owned vehicles to electrical and achieve Net Zero for this segment.
Evaluate feasibility of converting Town HVAC systems to renewable and achieve Net Zero for this segment.
The first six months of the NetZero group, which had roughly a dozen members from throughout the community, focused on gathering information from the town and schools on power consumption.
With that data they were able to find the town’s biggest problem buildings through a program developed by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
There is also a program offered by the state called “New Hampshire Saves” that will help communities audit and figure out savings for their problem buildings.
Moulton told the board that in the first two years, through the use of these two things, the NetZero group helped the town save about 20 percent on the energy use.
He mentioned that is was important to figure out the solid baseline of consumption before moving forward with a solar field because producing too much power is not really an overall benefit.
The town of Derry has initiated energy savings over the last 10-years that has resulted in over $500,000 per year in savings to taxpayers via LED lights replacement programs, HVAC upgrades, a solar array at Transfer Station and a Third Party Supply Agreements.
The Derry School District has a Honeywell Project that has seen over $576,000 per year in savings since this project was initiated in 2017, which was a $10M project.
They expect to bring in additional savings with the new Solar Array bring constructed at a landfill site.
The 2.2 MW Solar at Landfill – Lease plan will cost nothing to install and will have a yearly electric savings of $70,000 to $220,000, with a total saving of about $3.5 million.
This plan assumes a two percent annual increase in electricity costs from Eversource when calculating savings, and Derry will enter into 25-year purchase agreement. Town would purchase electricity produced at 6.8 cents per kwh – a fixed price for 25-years.
When the Londoderry Task Force chairperson, Deb Paul, asked about the timeline on the Derry group, their guests told them there was about seven years of work behind their efforts, but felt towns getting onboard now would have a much shorter period. Their group was delayed because of the pandemic and state legislation.
Also attending the meeting were Hampstead officials Selectman Steve Morse and School Board chairman David Smith. They were at the meeting to see what potential savings they could bring back to their town.