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Nashua and renewable energy

Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Energy stated that electricity generated from renewable sources – such as hydroelectric, solar and wind power – surpassed coal-fired wattage for the first time in April. Renewables supplied 23% of the nation’s electricity, while coal provided only 20% during that month.

However, we were surprised to also learn that New Hampshire still relies on coal for a certain amount of its electricity. In fact, despite efforts to go green, coal still generated more New Hampshire electricity during 2018 than did wind power, according to the energy department.

Meanwhile, in March, New Hampshire generated electricity as follows:

Nuclear – 927,000 megawatt hours (MWh)

Natural gas – 215,000 MWh

Hydroelectric – 158,000 MWh

Non-hydroelectric renewables (such as wind and solar) – 147,000 MWh

Coal – 26,000 MWh

Nashua officials have no intention of continuing to rely on fossil fuels any longer or any more than necessary. They plan to invest $6.2 million to repair and upgrade the city’s two existing hydroelectric plants in the Nashua River: Jackson Mills and Mine Falls.

“This is a process that will take about 18 months from once we pick something, to design, fabrication and installation,” Nashua Community Development Director Sarah Marchant told our reporter about the plans. “So, it is a big process and that’s why we’d like to get started before it breaks again so that we’re further along so we’re not offline for say 18 months or two years in the process.”

Both hydroelectric plants are about 35 years old. The Jackson Mills facility is located downtown, near the Margaritas Mexican Restaurant. In fiscal year 2019, its turbine was broken for three months.

“Jackson is a very, very unique situation,” Marchant said. “There is no other hydro facility anywhere in the world that’s exactly like that, and it is a custom-made turbine that’s there right now.”

About $4 million of the planned $6.2 million will be for the new turbine at Jackson, including the purchase, engineering, fabrication and installation.

One of the two turbines at the Mine Falls plant is currently offline. The plan is to do a complete rehabilitation of one of the two turbines, along with associated repairs.

For the work in the river to take place, nine studies are required from government entities such as FERC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

We support the planned renovation and upgrades of Nashua’s hydroelectric plants. We believe that as energy needs continue to increase due to every new electronic gadget that comes along, it only makes sense for governments to take advantage of natural and renewable resources such as water flowing through the heart of a city.