Sparking New Hampshire's Clean Energy Future
Tackling the climate challenge in the Granite State
Imagine you’re a red fox, complete with bushy tail and pointed ears. You’re standing on one side of Route 3 in Groveton, hoping to cross the road in search of ripe berries, tasty crickets and delectable mice for your kits back in their den. It’s a virtual smorgasbord — if you can get to it safely. Crossing the road becomes a real-life game of Frogger.
Groveton is in the heart of New Hampshire’s Great North Woods — part of the vast Northern Appalachians — which is a special place for wildlife on the move. It’s largely unfragmented, providing excellent habitat for wide-ranging mammals like bobcat and black bear. But with increasing development and busier roads, how can we help keep these lands connected and give these creatures room to roam in search of food, mates and more?
Bridging the Gaps
Through sophisticated mapping and modeling as part of the Staying Connected Initiative, we’ve already identified the connecting habitats that best bridge the gaps between large swaths of protected lands to maintain opportunities for wildlife to move. In northern New Hampshire, these gaps tend to consist of river valleys with transportation corridors. The Connecticut River Valley and US Route 3 corridor are the most prominent. With all the potential spots for wildlife to cross, how do we prioritize where to concentrate our efforts and resources to maintain and enhance wildlife movement pathways? Where are animals really crossing?
Say “Cheese” for Research
Enter a device so common you probably have one in your home (or even on your phone): the camera.
With your support, we deployed more than 30 motion-sensing cameras along stretches of Route 3 where we thought wildlife is most likely to cross the road and some where we were not so sure. These camera “traps” snapped a photo (or, in some cases, video) when a critter passed by. The data collected from these cameras helped us to assess:
• Where wildlife are approaching and crossing Route 3, and in what concentrations;
• What species are moving through particular areas and habitat types;
• What measures can be deployed at the busiest wildlife crossing areas to help facilitate safe crossings — for both motorists and wildlife.
These cameras capture thousands of images a month — images ranging from giant moose to the occasional wandering house cat. So while the process isn’t foolproof, the cameras provide verifying data to support or dispute our modeling assumptions and will ultimately help us to prioritize the best possible opportunities to protect some of the last remaining undeveloped road-front areas that wildlife rely upon to approach and cross roads. The study will also inform where we might work together with partners like the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to improve crossing conditions at hot spots, minimize animal-vehicle collisions, and enhance landscape connections, benefiting both people and wildlife.
David Worthen has a story to tell.
David is president of Worthen Industries, his family-owned business, which makes industrial adhesives and coatings from its headquarters in Nashua. It’s been in existence in one form or another since 1866, and David wants to make sure its future is secure.
“The fact is, we want to be around for a while,” Worthen explains. “The best way I know how to do that is to make products efficiently, use less energy, and create less waste.”
For Worthen, using less energy has meant a substantial commitment to efficiency—from installing LED lighting to setting a 40-miles-per-gallon minimum for cars in the company fleet. It also means a significant investment in renewable energy. Adorning Worthen’s roof are 80,000 square feet of solar panels, a capital project that will provide nearly half of the facility’s energy needs, and is expected to pay for itself within five years.
For a growing number of New Hampshire businesses, employees, and local governments, clean energy—such as renewables and energy efficiency—is becoming essential to success. Across the state, country and globe, increased investment in clean energy technology is required if we are to reduce carbon emissions and sustain our climate.
Listening and Acting
There are many stories in the Granite State like Worthen Industries’, and The Nature Conservancy wants to make sure they’re heard—especially by those who influence New Hampshire’s energy future.
Over the past two years, the Conservancy has partnered with the New Hampshire Clean Tech Council to bring elected officials together with business and municipal leaders. The goal? To discuss the economic and environmental opportunities associated with the growth of the clean energy and technology industry, and identify obstacles to seizing these opportunities. From the seven “Listening Sessions” held across the state, we heard many voices rally around a common theme: Municipalities and businesses are eager to find creative ways to lower their energy costs while lessening environmental impacts.
“New Hampshire’s businesses are ready to make the transition to clean energy,” says Kate Epsen, executive director of the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association. “To encourage them, we need to develop 21st century policies that enable increased investment, modernize our energy infrastructure and help develop the workforce needed to support this transition.”
Sustainably Supporting the Bottom Line
“Science tells us that we need to act now to substantially reduce our carbon emissions to avoid some of the most damaging effects of the changes to come,” says Jim O’Brien, director of external affairs for the Conservancy in New Hampshire. “To be successful, we need solutions that are good for both our environment and our economy.”
But is being more sustainable actually good for the bottom line? A recent report by The University of New Hampshire sheds some light on the economic benefits associated with clean energy. Historically, the growth in our economy was accompanied by a corresponding increase in energy consumption and harmful emissions. In New England, this is no longer the case. The UNH report reveals a new reality: “New, less energy-intensive industries, combined with more energy-efficient technologies and practices, are achieving economic growth and decreases in energy consumption.” The conclusion: Clean energy is good for our economy and environment and helps to lower the overall cost of energy.
Armed with the economic analysis provided by the UNH report, the real-world experiences and needs of the business community, and the urgency of the climate challenge, The Nature Conservancy and our partners are preparing to bring policy solutions to Concord.
Focused Solutions for the Future
This summer, The Nature Conservancy and the New Hampshire Clean Tech Council held a roundtable discussion in Nashua with Governor Chris Sununu and more than 30 business leaders and municipal officials from across the state. Hosted by Worthen Industries, the conversation focused on the need for a comprehensive state energy plan that will spur public and private investment in clean energy—aggressively reducing emissions while continuing to grow our economy.
“We are committed to bringing the governor a set of policy recommendations that will advance clean energy and reduce emissions—all with a positive economic impact,” concludes Jim. “We know that by working together, we can show that modern energy policies will strengthen New Hampshire’s economy, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and create a model for bipartisan solutions. All of us—from homeowners to the largest manufacturers—should have the opportunity to make the clean energy choices that are right for them.”
Get energized yourself! Assess your own carbon footprint with our Carbon Calculator and check out the New Hampshire's Energy Future is Now YouTube channel.