COVID-19 & Climate | New Hampshire Public Radio

COVID-19 & Climate

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COVID-19 has been hard on just about every industry in New Hampshire, and renewable energy is no exception. 

People worried about money are putting off investing in solar panels, and health concerns have made home energy efficiency visits more complicated. But scientists say investments like these can lower energy costs, and remain a critical way to combat the other big crisis we’re facing – climate change. 

As part of NHPR’s new climate change reporting project, By Degrees, NHPR’s Annie Ropeik has been trying to find out what might be ahead for the renewable energy industry in the state. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with her about what’s next.

State officials are trying a new approach to a long-running issue -- the effects of air pollution on public health -- with a new commission that met virtually for the first time Thursday night. 

The ad-hoc Emissions Commission includes Democratic and Republican state lawmakers, plus members of state agencies and major health, business and environmental organizations.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Reusable shopping bags will be allowed again at New Hampshire grocery stores, after Gov. Chris Sununu lifted the state’s COVID-19 ban on reusable bags Monday.

Courtesy of Marcus Ponce de Leon

By Degrees is a new climate change reporting project by NHPR. One major focus of the project is the connection between pollution and our health.

Last week, we talked about outdoor air quality in New Hampshire. But scientists are exploring the ways indoor air quality affects us too.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Massachusetts recently announced that it was ending its pandemic moratorium on reusable shopping bags, saying towns could go back to reinforcing their bans on single-use plastic bags. 

Meanwhile, New Hampshire and many other states are still not letting shoppers bring their reusable bags to stores. But is that actually helping to slow the spread of coronavirus?


Daniela Allee / NHPR

Earlier this year, the city of Lebanon gave a small group of residents the chance to bring not their trash and recyclables to the local landfill, but their compost too.

It makes Lebanon one of a few cities in the state helping residents reduce food waste, which is a major contributor to climate change.


Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire is seeing more heat waves due to climate change. And staying cool is even harder this year because of COVID-19. Our new climate change reporting project, By Degrees, has this look at how New Hampshire's cities are coping. 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Our new climate change reporting initiative, By Degrees, begins in an unprecedented time – one where people are making seismic shifts in their lifestyles and attitudes in response to COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Many of our listeners have wondered: why haven’t people reacted the same way to the climate emergency, and could that be about to change? 

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Pandemic closures are limiting the options in New Hampshire for people who need to take shelter from the heat this weekend.

Much of the state will see temperatures in the 90s, with high humidity, through early next week.

But it may fall short of an official heat advisory, which is what cities like Manchester and Nashua use to activate their heat response plans.

Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire has few places left open for people to cool off during this week's heat wave.

Phil Alexakos, Chief Operations Officer for the Manchester Health Department, says if temperatures reach what is considered “extreme heat,” the city may have to create designated cooling centers.

“And we would have to do that now with the lens of properly distancing folks,” he says. “So that’s what we’re going to be working on is looking at our existing plans and making sure that they take into account proper distancing and precautions and screenings.”

UNH Carsey School

A recent poll says New Hampshire residents' trust in science and government advice hasn't changed much, even as the coronavirus spreads.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire's Survey Center polled about 1,800 residents in March and April.

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Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Laboratory

New Hampshire’s energy efficiency sector is shedding jobs due to COVID-19, but advocates also say that industry could help the state dig out of the recession.

The state lost more than 750 energy-related jobs in March, according to the research firm BW. New England lost nearly 15,000 energy jobs overall that month, mostly in Massachusetts.  

ISO-New England screenshot

New England saw a big drop in energy prices and demand in March, as the coronavirus pandemic coincided with mild late-winter weather.

The region's grid operator, ISO-New England, says March had the lowest electricity prices since 2003, when the current market structure began.

The regional grid runs mostly on natural gas, and gas prices were 60 percent lower in March of this year than last.

BOEM.gov

A fishing industry group wants New Hampshire and neighboring states to put off planning offshore wind development during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, or RODA, sent a letter to the governors of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts on Tuesday. The group represents the fishing industry in states with offshore wind development.