By the Sierra Club Upper Valley Group
A future powered by 100% clean, renewable energy is technologically and economically feasible. As the prices of installing solar and wind equipment continues to fall and the renewable energy job market continues to grow, people — and cities, too — are increasingly choosing to invest in renewable energy technologies.
In coordination with other groups, the Sierra Club, our nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, launched the “Ready for 100” campaign in January 2016 to influence cities, regions, and states to commit to having 100% of their electricity come from renewable sources by 2030, and for transportation and heat as well by 2050. Twenty cities in the United States have committed to becoming powered by 100% renewable energy, the most recent being St. Petersburg, Florida. Other cities include Park City, Utah; San Diego, California; and East Hampton, New York. No commitment looks the same. Some cities are committing only to renewable electricity, while others are committing to renewable transportation and heat as well. In some cases, a mayor or the city council has decided first to commission a study of how the city can reach an 100% goal. The Los Angeles City Council, for example, unanimously approved a measure instructing the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to study an equitable transition from fossil fuels.
A major priority of the Ready for 100 campaign is that any transition to renewable energy be equitable and just. Both nationally and locally, the Sierra Club wants vulnerable communities and individuals to have equal access to clean-energy related economic opportunities, including employment, resources, and infrastructure.
When the Sierra Club Upper Valley Group learned about this campaign, they were immediately interested in bringing this effort to our region. The Upper Valley is now one of many regions across the country working with the national Sierra Club and each other to achieve this ambitious goal. The Sierra Club Upper Valley Group launched their campaign this past August with an aerial art photo on the Dartmouth College green. Over 125 people from 23 different towns demonstrated their support for 100% renewable energy by participating in this photo. Support continues to grow.
The Sierra Club Upper Valley Group has many community partners on this project, including other organizations, energy committees, and staff members from various towns. Last summer, two employees from the Town of Hanover and one of the Co-Chairs of Sustainable Hanover traveled to California to join the “North American Dialogue,” a unique opportunity for municipalities to share information about their budding transitions to 100% renewable energy. Twenty cities from the U.S. and Canada participated. After returning, the Hanover representatives not only continued their renewable energy work in town but also began sharing this information with community leaders across the Upper Valley. In January, they gave a presentation about their experience to leaders from Hanover, Lebanon, Plainfield and Grantham, all in New Hampshire.
On December 14, Hanover reached a major milestone — the Sustainable Hanover Town Committee voted to endorse a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050. (You can find the resolution on the Town of Hanover’s webpage.) They then brought their resolution to the Hanover Select Board on January 23rd where members posed many thoughtful questions, expressed support, and recommended that the resolution be brought to a vote at the May town meeting.
Many towns throughout the Upper Valley have joined this effort. The Sierra Club Upper Valley Group has been coordinating with members of a few local energy committees to support their work. Members of both the Plainfield (NH) and Cornish Energy Committees are organizing a series of events to increase community awareness of climate change, the financial benefits of renewable energy, and the technological and economic feasibility of a 100% renewable energy system.
There are many ways to get involved with this campaign. There are several teams that meet regularly. The Sierra Club group also hosts a study group twice a month to learn more about how to make this transition to 100%. Everyone is welcome to attend team meetings and the study group. If you’d like to learn more about the campaign in the Upper Valley, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.