By Chris Paul
Back in the late summer of 2020, the Londonderry Town Council heard a presentations made by members of the Net Zero Energy Group out of Derry. The group is well on their way to saving taxpayers money through the use of solar power that will furnish electricity to the town’s municipal buildings.
From that discussion, the Council formed an Energy Efficiency Task Force to look into ways Londonderry could also benefit from alternative energy sources.
Last week, on Thursday, March 17, the committee held its first meeting and a number of items were covered to get the ball rolling.
The mission of the group is to explore cost effective solutions for reducing energy use and achieve sustainable energy development on town-controlled properties. The goal is to achieve “Net Zero” Cost to the town on energy by 2027. They will also be exploring energy conservation and efficiency and look to reduce carbon emissions within the town.
Net Zero is the act of producing as much energy as one consumes.
The board members include: Town Councilor, Deb Paul; Ron Dunn; Susan Furey; Martha Smith; Doug Thomas; Ray Breslin; Bob Pitre; Kevin Foley; Richard Darveau; and Michael Speltz.
Seven of the ten members attended the first meeting with Paul conducting the meeting as the chairperson, with Smith being voted to the vice-chair seat and Dunn was voted into the secretary seat.
The first order of business was to listen to a presentation from Rob Greer, at representative from Encore Renewable Energy of Burlington, Vermont, who is currently working with the town of Derry to install a solar array on a public landfill.
Paul had talked with Encore earlier in the month and asked them to send a representative to the meeting to give an idea what could be done at the Auburn Road Brownfield site.
It was explained that Encore specializes in reclaiming undervalued real estate for clean energy generation and energy storage, helping us to revitalize communities and create a cleaner, brighter future for all. Greer said that they have completed 80 successful projects.
Greer also said that in looking at Londonderry’s Auburn Road site, the initial desktop review of feasibility of the site looked good. A rough engineering and design of the area was created a gave a very rough initial design of producing five megawatts of electricity.
He added that Encore would need to look at the town’s electric bills of town buildings to learn more on usage, as well as town building locations, which may dictate project size.
It was explained that for this potential project, the town would act as a host for “Group Net Metering” and would receive an overall credit to their energy bill for the buildings used in town.
In some cases energy is brought directly to the buildings.
The lease agreement with the solar company would last about 25-years and the expected life of a solar panel in about 40-years, and there was some discussion raised about the potential buy-out of the panels. Greer stated that a buy out would certainly be possible.
Paul explained that the Committee would be gathering information from at least two other solar companies on costs and savings moving forward.
The members also discussed each of the member’s strengths and weaknesses after the presentations.
Paul proposed having each of the members take on a task in order to move the process of saving the town money on energy and it was discovered that there should be a base-line established on how much energy is consumed by the town.
Another plan was to have a group of three look at alternative funding sources that might help with saving money.
Overall, members felt that the meeting was a good start in understanding what direction they should be headed in.