If you live outside of New England, you may have heard of the town of Keene in southwest New Hampshire because of the commotion earlier this year around a new Vietnamese restaurant. . The owners of Pho Keene Great believed they had found a golden name for their new restaurant in Keene’s central plaza. City officials, however, thought differently and a bureaucratic battle ensued, with numerous salvos being launched from Facebook and Twitter. In large part because of the First Amendment and a wave of support on social media, Pho Keene Great won.
But in more recent news, Keene also won, as the city took one step closer to its 2030 goal of having 100% of its electricity derived from renewables.
The story is very New England, or you could say, very American post-industrial. In Keene’s case, a new solar system on the roof of a former silk textile factory generates clean energy on what is now a mixed-use commercial development that includes offices, retail and storage spaces. Old New England textile factories are great places to work and live, but aren’t always the most energy efficient. Solar panels can help on this front and prove that âsmart citiesâ don’t have to be in the western United States or in the larger urban areas of the United States.
Encore Renewable Energy, which managed the Keene project, is already making its mark across New England with 60 solar projects in neighboring Vermont alone. According to Encore, this 140 kilowatt peak (kWp) solar installation atop the historic Silk Mill property will offset more than 2,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of the emissions of nearly 6 million motor miles, over the course of over the next 25 years. A renewable energy grant from the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission helped make this project a reality.
To paraphrase the name of the previously mentioned Michelin-starred restaurant, it is. . . A very good news.
The Silk Mill project will help New Hampshire move towards its long-term renewable energy goal. Currently, the world’s largest nuclear power plant supplies more than half of the state’s electricity. Almost half of New Hampshire households depend on heating oil to stay warm during these freezing winter months. But wind power overtook coal for power generation in New Hampshire for the first time in 2016, so the state’s 2025 target of 25 percent electricity supply from Renewable energy shouldn’t be too difficult.
At the time of going to press, it’s not clear whether Pho Keene Great’s monthly bills (pictured above) will benefit from this project. What is clear is that projects like this one in Keene can help the New Hampshire state motto “Live Free or Die” (at least as far as some monthly bills go) grow a little bit more. realistic.
New Hampshire residential electricity bills tend to be lower than the national average; but of course the promise of even lower bills for homes and businesses across the state will show up. . . Great.
Image credits: Encore renewable energy; Pho Keene Super / Facebook