With three public solar projects now complete in Nashua, the city has become a leader for clean energy in New Hampshire, according to an expert in the field.
“Nashua is truly at the forefront of this transition to clean energy,” said Dan Weeks of ReVision Energy.
In an effort to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, city officials previously entered into a power purchase agreement with the energy provider to place solar arrays on three buildings: the Lake Street fire station, the city’s transit garage and the Conway Ice arena.
“All three projects have been installed, recently completed and turned on,” Weeks said on Monday.
The solar arrays consist of a total of 2,027 individual solar panels and have a combined generating capacity of 640 kilowatts, enough to offset nearly 350 tons of carbon pollution each year, according to Weeks.
With all solar panels now in operation, he said the projects will help Nashua achieve its goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. City leaders are expected to gather at the Conway Ice arena on Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the project.
“Having New Hampshire’s second largest city set ambitious goals over the next few decades on clean energy and implementing projects is very exciting and encouraging to the many people in New Hampshire that make their livelihood in clean energy,” Weeks said.
It is important for local communities, especially larger cities like Nashua, to lead the way on clean energy and climate action, Weeks said.
With a power purchase agreement in place, the city’s rate is about 8.8 cents per kilowatt hour, with a rate escalator after year one of 2% per year.
The contract, which includes an optional buyout in year six, could save the city more than $1.3 million after 40 years.
“We have ambitious energy-reduction goals — a 25% reduction in our carbon footprint by 2025 and carbon neutrality by 2050,” Mayor Jim Donchess said last month.
In addition to the solar panels, Donchess said other initiatives have taken place throughout the city to make Nashua greener.
All of Nashua’s street lights have been converted to LED and the city now owns two hydroelectric dams. It also recently hired an energy manager to pursue more green projects, according to Donchess.
“Over the next four years we will work with our schools and our fire and police departments and public works to reduce our carbon footprint,” he said, adding a plan is in the works to reduce carbon emissions by over three million pounds per year at the city’s two high schools by implementing LED lighting, upgrading temperature controls, installing new transformers and utilizing other energy efficient measures.