Peterborough has long been at the forefront of municipal energy conservation. For nearly twenty years, the town has undertaken countless activities and initiatives to reduce its energy usage, often primarily as a cost saving measure, but with the perhaps greater secondary benefit of reducing the town’s part in global climate change. Energy saving, GHG emission-averting measures have been planned into nearly all of the town’s building and renovation projects, which have in turn raised the consciousness of the staff to find alternatives to procedures and products that help us to meet the larger-than-us goal of reducing our impact on the environment.
As early as 1996, the town had taken steps to reduce its energy demands through such activities as installing a waste oil burner, removing redundant street lights, increasing foot, bicycle and motorcycle patrols, and reusing discarded items at the Recycling Center. In 2005, the Town Energy Advisory Group (TEAG), an ad-hoc committee, was formed to address the growing concerns of environmental responsibility for the municipality. Recommendations from this group became the basis of the town’s green-purchasing and anti-idling policies, as well as informal practices which have included reducing the use of auxiliary heaters and regularly double-siding photocopies.
In 2006, then Public Works Director Rodney Bartlett began spearheading a concerted effort to reduce the energy usage and carbon footprint of the town’s governmental activities. In conjunction with Antioch University, he initiated an audit of energy usage which would provide the baseline data for future comparisons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission-reducing efforts. He also oversaw studies which looked at the efficacy of a wood-pellet stove for the Library, which was installed in 2007. During the same time, TEAG continued advising the Town on potential GHG-reducing projects, and reviewed the plans for the then proposed wastewater treatment plant.
In July of 2007, the Select Board issued a challenge to staff to reduce the Town’s carbon footprint by 5% by 2010. Using 2007 as a baseline for comparison, staff began recording the month-by-month electricity, oil and wood pellet usage of eleven municipal buildings. When staff reported back to the Select Board in March of 2011, they were able to demonstrate a 22% reduction in GHG emissions across all eleven buildings – a staggering success by any measure.
Following the passage of Warrant Article 11: Commit To A Goal of 100% Renewable Energy (submitted by petition) at 2021 Town Meeting, the dedicated volunteers of the recently formed Community Power Task Force started working to develop a Community Power plan for the Town of Peterborough, with the goal of providing residents with electricity purchase options. Most of the options will include a higher portion of renewable energy than offered in the default electricity rate by our utility, and some that will also cost less than the utility default rate.