‘100 percent fossil free’

Nashua officials establish goal for city

Telegraph photo by ADAM URQUHART Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess and members of the Environment and Energy Committee gather on the front steps of City Hall Friday morning to hear Donchess recite a proclamation, establishing energy goals for the city’s future.

NASHUA – City leaders are throwing down the gauntlet in the battle against coal, oil and natural gas, as they plan to eventually operate all municipal buildings and vehicles with zero fossil fuels.

Earth Day may not officially be until Monday, but Mayor Jim Donchess and other Nashua officials confirmed some ambitious goals on Friday, while conducting a special Earth Day observance on the steps of City Hall.

“The devastating effects of climate change are on our doorstep, and we really need to start stepping up what we’re doing as a city, and as a country,” Alderwoman Shoshanna Kelly said.

Donchess on Friday said the city would obtain 100 percent of the energy for school and municipal system from renewable, clean energy sources by 2050.

The other two goals the city set are to reduce school, municipal building and infrastructure greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2025, and to reduce municipal vehicle emissions by 25 percent by 2025.

Resolution 19-113, which adopts these three goals, was adopted by the city’s Board of Aldermen in February. Also, in proclaiming April 19 as Earth Day in Nashua, the mayor encouraged residents to promote friendly and clean energy initiatives.

Although there is much work to be done, Nashua is already running three trolleys on biodiesel and nine vans on biodiesel. Two electric buses are on order.

Donchess said he is committed to protecting the environment, reducing energy use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016, he signed on to become a “climate mayor” to uphold the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Progress has already been made along the path to a more sustainable future, including cutting energy use by 31 percent in city buildings from 2011 to 2016, city officials said. Also, in 2016, Nashua converted its street lights to LED, which in turn, saves more than $350,000 per year in electricity costs.

“I’ve called for more electric charging stations in Nashua to encourage the use of electric vehicles,” Donchess said. “Nashua has two hydroelectric power facilities. The city sends the energy produced by these facilities back to the grid, which helps power thousands of homes.”

Moreover, the city currently has one public charging station in the Elm Street Garage, but could increase that number by three or four in the future.

Kelly also said two city high school students recently delivered a presentation on electric vehicles, and will be joining the committee.

“A new energy manager is in Nashua’s future,” Donchess added. “This person will work with the city and the school district to help new energy saving projects.”

Donchess said the city needs the energy manager to design the specific projects. However, he said the first and most important project is to convert the two high schools to LED lighting. He said this initiative would probably also expand to other schools as well.

“That would save about $250,000 of energy costs and a great deal of energy every year — the conversion of the two schools,” Donchess said. “Then following that, there could be certainly other projects, but in talking with local, private sector energy managers, it’s obvious that if we have our own energy manager, we can design a better, more specifically designed project for the high schools than we can by simply putting out an RFP (request for proposal).”