Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – Viewpoint: Bev Edwards – The benefits of going solar

Why go solar?

With the growing need for clean energy, the future of solar power has never looked brighter.

As a clean source of energy, it can replace the toxic pollution of fossil fuels and eliminate its dangerous emissions and its effects on the health of our citizens. Solar power is also unbeatable as a long-term money saver.

It’s an investment that typically pays for itself in 10 years or less, with free electricity for another 20-30 years. It is an investment for our wallets and our health.

We have dug a hole for ourselves by burning fossil fuels, driven by the industrial revolution, a hole that affects our resources and our health. But most problematic is our severely overheated atmosphere. As NASA reported, “Our atmosphere is getting hotter, more turbulent, and more unpredictable.”

Last year, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exploded, exceeded the safe limit and was recorded by NOAA at a dangerously alarming level.

“It’s now or never… Climate change is happening faster than expected,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said following the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

And after completing their joint NASA/NOAA/Department of Defense research, NASA announced that “the ocean will rise 10 to 12 inches higher than its current height by 2050. ‘alarm for the world’.

The ice disappears. For eons, ice has helped moderate global temperatures by reflecting the sun’s rays. Now warmer air and warmer oceans are melting it, so it loses its cooling effect, warming the air further and melting even more ice, in a vicious loop. And melting tundra exposes permafrost, releasing methane into the atmosphere – worse than carbon dioxide.

This is an example of what Guterres meant when he said, “We are already dangerously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate impacts.

After 11,000 years of civilization as we know it, we are in uncharted territory. Last summer, the largest wildfire in California history sent polluting smoke 3,000 miles into New Hampshire, which we endured for days. We witnessed Hurricane Ida’s sustained winds of 150 mph and gusts of 172 mph with deadly flooding on the East Coast, as well as the “strongest tornado in US history”, the ” deadliest firestorm on record in Colorado” and 20 “billion dollar disasters” in the United States.

A radical course correction is necessary. On a local level, switching to solar power increases sustainability and can help reduce hardships in our communities, such as the predicted increase in excessive heat and health impacts in New Hampshire, new species of invasive insects and diseases from ticks and mosquitoes, floods and drought that harm farms, stronger storms like the 2008 ice storm with Temple’s 14-day power outage and gradual loss of precious animals such as loons, snowshoe hare, moose, brook trout and our state bird, purple finch, as well as maple syrup and ash trees.

Temple took a step forward, along with 163 other New Hampshire towns, in 2007, approving a term of reference calling for the creation of a municipal energy committee to help “conserve energy and reduce emissions of greenhouse gas”. Our committee obtained energy audits for our municipal buildings and coordinated what became an exceptionally successful grant-funded energy retrofit for our municipal building, fire department and library.

It has significantly reduced fuel consumption and reduced energy costs and municipal taxes. Thirteen years later, it continues to pay dividends. Due to reduced energy demand, the size of a solar panel can be made smaller while still meeting municipal energy needs.

In 2017, the Energy Committee presented a petition at our Harvest Festival booth asking the city to transition its municipal power to 100% renewable energy by 2030. It became a mandate item that was passed at the 2018 town hall requesting the formation of a renewable energy task. Force to propose options to transform our municipal energy into 100% renewable energy by 2030.

The task force plans to present a warrant item at the 2023 town assembly seeking approval to install a solar panel to cover the electricity needs of Temple’s town buildings, and our chosen site is expandable.

We also obtained board approval to consider establishing a community food plan to serve our entire community. Developing regional coordination could also strengthen efforts to provide all our citizens with 100% solar energy.

Bev Edwards is a member of Temple’s Renewable Energy Task Force.