Update: This warrant article was passed at the March, 2020 annual Sandwich, NH Town Meeting.
2020 Sandwich Petition Warrant Article:
“To see if the Town of Sandwich, NH will vote to commit to a goal of 100% reliance on renewable sources of electricity by 2030 and for all other energy needs, including heating and transportation, by 2050. The intent of this goal is to protect the well-being and health of our citizens by practicing and promoting energy conservation, ensuring food, water and heat security, by being fiscally responsible, and by keeping energy dollars in the local economy. We can, by actively shifting towards renewable energy, end dependence on and subsidies for fossil fuels and address the threat of global climate change on a local, state and national level. This article reaffirms Warrant Article 53 passed at the March 13, 2007 Sandwich Town Meeting.”
FAQs for the Climate Crisis Warrant Article:
(Since we are not interested in reinventing the wheel, these answers, in part, have been borrowed from other New Hampshire towns, like Hanover, which already passed a similar town warrant.)
Who in Sandwich will be required to meet the goals of 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and transportation and heating/cooling by 2050? No one will be required to meet these goals. However, the Sandwich Climate Crisis Coalion (SCCC) is committed to working towards these goals with all entities within Sandwich’s geographic boundaries–our town government, schools, libraries, businesses, organizations and residences in cooperation with other like minded towns.
What energy sources qualify as “renewable”? We are using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of renewable energy. For our purposes, renewable energy refers to a set of energy resources that restore themselves over short periods of time and do not diminish, such as solar, wind, geothermal, low impact hydro and some forms of biomass. (https://epa.gov/greenpower/green-power-partnership-eligible-resources).
Does the renewable energy need to be generated locally here in Sandwich? No. We anticipate achieving these goals through a portfolio of renewable energy sources, with generation here in Sandwich being one component. Generation of energy elsewhere, such as offshore wind on the New Hampshire seacoast, and certified renewable energy credits (RECs) will be part of the mix. Big things can be accomplished. For example, Taos, New Mexico, worked at building solar arrays which will soon service 18,500 households.
Is Sandwich doing this alone?
As of November 2019, 153 municipalities throughout the country have adopted these goals or similar goals. Sandwich will be the sixth town in New Hampshire to do so, including Concord, Cornish, Hanover, Keene and Plainfield.
Here is an example of just one change in Hanover in 2018:
Efficiency. The town has replaced 1,403 fluorescent bulbs with LED bulbs in Town Hall, the Public Works Department, the Water Department, the Water Reclamation Department, and the Black Community Center. Total cost was $9,459; incentives paid $4,203; cost to the town was $5,000. This change reduces the cost of electricity for this lighting from $23,000 to $9,000 per year. Therefore, the town will have a return on its investment in 6 months. In addition, workers report that the quality of light is much better.
What are some other cities and towns nationwide with similar goals as Sandwich’s?
Abita Springs, LA; Alta, UT; Angel Fire, NM; Berkeley, CA; Boulder, CO; Cheltenham Township, PA; Coalville, UT; Denver, CO; Eagle Nest, NM; East Hampton, NY; ,Edmonds, WA; Encinitas, CA; Eureka, CA; Evanston, IL; Fort Collins, CO; Francis, UT; Golden, CO; Goleta, CA; Holladay, UT; Kamas, UT; Kearns, UT; La Mesa, CA; Lafayette, CO; Longmont, CO; Menlo Park, CA; Millcreek, UT; Minneapolis, MN; Missoula, MT; Nederland, CO; Nevada City, CA; Oakley, UT; Ogden, UT; San Francisco Santa Barbara, CA; Spokane, WA; Springdale, UT; St. Louis Park, MN; St Paul, MN; Taos, NM; Taos Ski Valley; and Truckee, California.
How big a movement is this?
The Sierra Club writes: Just three months ago, 1 in 5 people in the United States lived in a place that had committed to moving away from fossil fuels entirely and toward 100% clean electricity. Today, that number is greater than 1 in 4.
In June, Maine, the 43rd-most populous state, and New York, the fourth-most populous state, both passed ambitious policies mandating a transition to 100% clean electricity. Now, 91 million people in the US (28% of the population), accounting for 20% of the country’s electricity consumption, will be powered by clean sources of electricity like wind, solar, and hydropower. All told, a switch to 100% clean electricity in these places will result in a carbon-pollution reduction of 260 million metric tons per year — the equivalent of retiring 67 coal plants.
When it comes to fighting global warming, what is special about Sandwich?
Climate experts point to our surrounding forests. Temperate forests can make a big difference in helping reducing global warming. The Draw Down Project, which aims to reverse greenhouses emissions to acceptable levels, writes: “A quarter of the world’s forests lie in the temperate zone, mostly in the Northern Hemisphere. Some are deciduous; others are evergreen,” adding, “While temperate forests are not threatened by the same large-scale deforestation that afflicts the tropics, they continue to be fragmented by development. They also are experiencing hotter and more frequent droughts, longer heat waves, and more severe wildfires, as well as worsening insect and pathogen outbreaks. These disturbances can push temperate forests beyond their capacity for resilience. Restoration efforts will need to continue evolving in response, yet restoration is no replacement for protection.” So conservation and good stewardship of ours and all of New England’s forests will be a big part of the work to be done to halt global warming.
Here is more from a New Hampshire government report:
Preserving our working forests and avoiding conversion of our forest lands to other purposes will be critical to the success of New Hampshire’s Climate Action Plan. New Hampshire is currently 84 percent forested, and the forest products industry has been and will continue to be a key component of our state’s economy. In addition, our tourism and outdoor recreation economies are heavily dependent on the health of our forests. Sustainably managed forests in New Hampshire provide a broad range of benefits, including: the ability to absorb and store large amounts of carbon; renewable supply of wood for heating, lumber, and a variety of forest products; and recreational opportunities.
What about the costs?
Right now New Hampshire has a lot of room for improvement. Of all the states New Hampshire has the seventh highest Average Retail Price of Electricity to the Residential Sector at 19.47 cents/kWh as of August 2019. Clean energy strategies can bring down the prices.