DERRY, New Hampshire: The town is continuing efforts to save money on energy costs and that effort may involve using the sun’s own power.
Members of the Net Zero Task Force Committee came before town councilors at a meeting July 18 to present an initiative to bring solar power panels to two municipal buildings.
The Net Zero Task Force was put in place in 2016 and is a collection of town and school district staff, community members and other stakeholders all with the vision of achieving cost-effective solutions for reduced energy and water use on town property and throughout the community.
The goal of the group is to become “net zero” by the year 2025.
The new initiative, presented at the meeting by Public Works Director Michael Fowler and task force Chairman Jeff Moulton, is a proposal to place solar panels on the Marion Gerrish Community Center and at the Derry Transfer Station.
Fowler said the task force is working hard to bring more energy-saving efforts to town.
“We have been working hard over the past six to 12 months with ideas and solutions,” Fowler said, “and how to further promote solar on public facilities.”
The solar panel project came about after the task force studied all the town’s facilities and chose the community center and transfer station as the prime spots for the work.
Derry Public Library also was looked at, but that building had some roofing issues that might not work for the solar panels, Fowler said.
This all came about, Moulton said, to help introduce renewable energy to the town, while also making Derry a showplace to encourage this type of energy savings, attract business while creating an environment to help spread the benefits of solar and other renewable energy possibilities.
With the two projects, there could be substantial electricity cost savings per year, Moulton said.
On the Marion Gerrish center, it could cost the town about $49,000 to install the solar project, but rebates would bring costs down. The transfer station project could cost about $270,000, but again rebates would help save considerable money.
Tapping solar power
There was a previous project to bring a solar installation at the transfer station, Fowler said, but that project did not move forward.
The final cost numbers are not certain, Fowler said, and more information and study will come once the projects move through the Request for Proposal phase.
Moulton said doing this solar project is part of the Net Zero Task Force plan and mission.
“We are taking baby steps,” he said, “but want to get some momentum going.”
Task Force Vice Chairman Joshua Bourdon, also Town Council chairman, said the town is already taking great steps in its efforts to save energy and costs for the taxpayer, by pursuing many energy efficient capital improvement projects in town buildings like windows, doors, insulation, and lighting upgrades.
Those buildings include Veterans Memorial Building, where gym lighting was replaced with high-efficiency fluorescent lights in 2005. More renovations included replacing windows, doors, and the antiquated heating system.
The Police Department building also got upgrades including new light fixtures, a natural gas heating system and new windows. The town’s municipal center also reaped benefits of upgrades to save energy and money including
LED lighting in exterior parking lots, and an energy management system installed to allow rooftop cooling units and boilers to function more efficiently.
The town also converted its traditional streetlights with LED fixtures, saving the town an estimated $70,000 per year.
Bourdon said the committee’s goal is to be “net zero” and produce as much energy as is consumed by 2025.
“We have an opportunity to lead, to tackle future tax rate issues, take it on ourselves,” Bourdon said.
Town Councilor Jim Morgan said it’s important to consider all types of efforts to save money and energy.
“We need to look at all sorts of opportunities to reduce the taxpayers’ burden,” Morgan said.