Localities across the United States are taking steps to commit to reducing their city or town’s local carbon footprint.
For several years, citizens from a small town in New Hampshire have been working on investing in local renewable energy sources to reduce their carbon footprint and reduce consumer costs.
Earlier this month the town of Peterborough, N.H., with a population of about 6,000, approved and finally launched the state’s largest PV solar array. The project was originally approved by town officials by a unanimous vote in July 2014.
The solar panel system generates nearly 1 MW and is managed by SunEdison, who purchased the project in 2015. The bulk of the energy generated by the system will be used to meet the electricity needs of the town’s wastewater treatment plant. Leftover power will be used at the town house, fire department and library.
This initiative is projected to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 17 million pounds over the next 20 years. The project was funded in part due to a grant from the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission.
In a different part of the country, officials in Central Texas made headlines earlier this year when the town signed an agreement (also with SunEdison) to ditch traditional power sources for solar and wind energy power.
The town is Georgetown, Texas, located just north of Austin. Officials here set a local goal of 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2017. The town is working with the local utility to provide alternative sources of energy.
Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross said in a recent op-ed in Time Magazine that water shortages and droughts conditions influenced the locality’s decision to turn to renewable energy. “Traditional power plants making steam from burning fossil fuels can use large amounts of water each day. Our move to renewable power is a significant reduction in our total water use in Georgetown,” Ross said.
Town officials also said that consumer cost benefits led to their decision to use renewable energy sources. Although Texas is one of the nation’s leader in solar energy supply, state funding incentives and rebates are not as strong in the state as they are in other localities. However, the switch from traditional energy sources to renewable energy is still projected to save residents money.
Earlier this year EnergyTrends.org reported that Burlington, Vermont had become the first U.S. city to use 100 percent renewable energy. This intentional initiative was facilitated by Burlington Electric Department (BED). Like Georgetown, Burlington was motivated to convert its energy sources to help with potential for consumer savings. Burlington now anticipates that the city will save $20 million over the next decade.
The renewable sources used by Burlington include biomass, hydroelectric, solar and wind. The city’s initiative is part of a larger statewide effort to get Vermont to use 90 percent renewable energy sources by 2050. Consumers are asking local utilities to provide alternative energy sources and companies have been responsive to this initiative.
Other localities across the United States are starting similar energy revolutions to make their cities and towns more ‘green’ and continue to save their residents money on utility costs.