1. What are the benefits of this project?
The benefits include:
Reducing energy costs to the community
Keeping energy dollars in the local economy
Increasing the resilience of our electrical grid to weather-related interruptions
Protecting the health of our citizens by eliminating pollution caused by using fossil fuels
Addressing the real and ongoing threat of the global climate crisis
2. What is the penalty if we don’t reach our goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2050?
There is no penalty, except that we will miss out on some energy cost savings, lose some opportunities for new jobs and a healthier environment, and fail to mitigate climate change as much as we had hoped. This is an aspirational goal based on realistic expectations, but it is not a legal commitment with punishment if we don’t succeed. If we don’t set goals that cause us to plan for a better future, we’re not likely to make progress.
3. If we are voting to set a goal that is not legally binding, what incentive do I have to convert to renewable energy?
Your main incentive to make your own transition to renewable energy will probably be that it will save you money. The costs of wind and solar have been dropping fast, already making them less expensive than fossil fuels in the long run. Converting to renewable electricity will be easy through Community Power, with no extra investment on your part. Converting to renewable heat and transportation will eventually require some changes on your part. With attractive ways to finance the initial investment, you’ll want to switch. Of course, the other incentive you’ll have is to eliminate your greenhouse gas emissions so that our climate will be livable for you and for your children and grandchildren.
4. Are there any federal or state subsidies or incentives for individuals who would like to buy and install their own solar energy systems?
Yes. In January, the 26% federal tax credit for solar panels was extended to the end of 2022. The State of New Hampshire also offers a rebate of up to $1,000. As the Biden administration takes further steps to plan for their stated goal of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, other incentives for renewable energy use may be forthcoming.
5. I don’t have extra money to buy solar panels or wind turbines, so how am I supposed to switch to renewable electricity?
To achieve our goal, residents are not required to install their own solar panels — there are additional options, such as Community Power, that do not require individual action or investment. We hope the new Community Power law will allow Peterborough to purchase electricity for the entire town (including all residents who wish to participate) that will not increase your electricity bill, but will come more and more from renewable sources. You’ll have renewable electricity even if you don’t have your own solar panels or wind turbines.
6. What if I can’t manage to stop using fossil fuels by 2050? Do I have to move out of Peterborough?
No. We hope you will get so much help with making the transition to renewable energy that it will be easy for you to meet the goal. As a matter of fact, it may become difficult to keep using fossil fuels as we transition towards sustainable sources of energy, because fossil fuel companies will become less and less profitable. No matter what happens, you will always be allowed to stay in your home and to choose your home energy sources! See question #2.
7. How can I contribute to this effort?
The most important thing you can do is to vote for the “Commit to a Goal of 100% Renewable Energy” warrant article at Town Meeting this year. Please also urge all of your friends to do the same. You can participate in one of our Community Dialogues so we can hear your questions, hopes, and concerns. You can sign the petition of support at https://bit.ly/PEAPetition You can contact email@example.com to let us know that you want to help with our activities. Another useful thing you can do is to follow our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PEAction. Then re-post the PEA posts to your Facebook page to share the information with your social network. This is the easiest way to spread the word.
8. Do I have to change my lifestyle?
Not much. First, you’ll buy renewable electricity supplied by Community Power for no more than you’re paying now. Then, you’ll have until 2050 to convert your transportation and heating and cooking to electricity. By the time your old gas car gives out, there will be many affordable new and used electric cars on the market. When your heating system fails, you’ll be able to choose an electric system that will work better. If you aren’t already cooking with electricity, you’ll be able to choose an induction or regular electric cooktop. It’s likely that there will be financing systems that will make it easy for you to afford these changes, all of which will save you money in the long run. And who knows what new technologies will have been developed by 2050?
9. What is wrong with gas heat?
Gas is a fossil fuel that, when burned, increases greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Gas pipelines leak, releasing even more greenhouse gases. The fracking process of obtaining natural gas causes environmental damage. We can avoid all of these problems by converting our heating systems to those that use renewable energy.
10. Do you want donations?
We’re not asking you for donations. We’re simply asking you to support the “Commit to a Goal of 100% Renewable Energy” warrant article at town meeting. If you feel inspired to give us a donation, let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’ll discuss it.
11. Can’t you wait until the pandemic is over?
No. We wish we could. It would be a lot easier to run this campaign if we waited until we could meet with voters in person. However, there’s only one Town Meeting each year, and we can’t wait another year to get started on this important initiative. The climate crisis requires immediate action.
12. Is this a government program?
This is a grassroots movement promoted by volunteers, not the government. We will solicit the collaboration of the town government, businesses, and residents -- everyone in the Town of Peterborough. When we work together, we get more done.
13. Are there additional savings for Peterborough residents, beyond the anticipated reduced electrical and thermal energy rates?
Yes, but realizing those savings will require that most or all other towns in NH, the rest of the country, and the rest of the world also switch to renewable energy. Joel Huberman, in a recent Monadnock Ledger-Transcript op-ed, calculated conservative estimates that each year every New Hampshire resident pays $45 for federal tax subsidies of fossil fuels, $245 for the military to defend our access to foreign oil, $360 in increased taxes and insurance rates to account for natural disasters fueled by global warming, $1,400 in increased taxes and insurance rates to cover the health costs of the particulate pollution and ozone generated when fossil fuels burn, and $2,600 that we send out of the state to pay for our fossil fuels. That’s a total of about $4,650 or more per person that we pay to use fossil fuels. Let’s do our part to stop the use of fossil fuels.
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