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Energy Secretary Visits N.H. Solar Project; Touts Infrastructure Bill

A group of people poses in front of several solar panels and a truck.
Mara Hoplamazian
/
NHPR
Secretary Granholm, middle, poses with Senator Maggie Hassan (far right) and others at a former landfill on Dunbarton Road in Manchester.

U. S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm came to New Hampshire Friday to talk about renewable energy and the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in August.

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The visit follows the Solar Futures Study, a new Department of Energy report finding solar energy could power 40% of the country’s electricity by 2035.

In Manchester, Secretary Granholm toured a former landfill on Dunbarton Road that will soon have 8,000 solar panels.

“It’s a shame New Hampshire is number 40 in the country in terms of the percentage of the energy it gets from solar, but the capacity is huge,” she said.

”Using nonproductive lands to be able to put solar panels on is great,” she said.

Transitioning the generation of energy from fossil fuels to renewable sources is one way to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, which are the most significant contributor to observed climate change, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

New Hampshire’s development of solar energy lags behind neighboring New England states. Just 19% of the state’s electricity came from renewable sources in 2020, mostly from hydroelectric power, biomass, and wind, according to the Energy Information Administration. In comparison, 99.9% of Vermont’s in-state electricity net generation came from renewable sources in 2019, the highest in the country.

With the recent increase of municipal net metering caps to five megawatts, cities and towns in New Hampshire will be able to generate more of their own renewable energy.

Granholm said ambitious goals, incentives for utility companies, and tax credits for solar manufacturers were some necessary measures to help New Hampshire and the country meet the vision outlined in the Solar Futures Study.

Equitable deployment of renewable energy is a key component of the future outlined in the study. Granholm said that encouraging community solar and investing in energy efficiency in low-income communities with high energy bills are among the Biden administration’s goals for the deployment of renewable energy throughout the country.

“What we want to do is to make sure that 40% of the benefits of the investments that the President is making in clean energy go to communities that have been hit first and worst,” Granholm said.