Solar panels

Keene’s energy and climate committee is asking for the City Council’s support for a potential effort to “solarize” Keene and Marlborough.

The campaign is intended to educate the community and encourage energy-efficient weatherization techniques and solar panel installations.

Solarize campaigns use the power of group purchasing to offer a discount to businesses and households that sign up, committee Chairwoman Ann Shedd said. The organizers vet and review proposals from solar companies to streamline the process for applicants, she said, and typically one installer is chosen for a campaign. Residents and business owners then have a limited time to contract with that company to get the discount.

The model is based on other solarize campaigns held in the state over the past year and a half, including one in the Upper Valley that helped bring solar to 300 homes, and another in the eastern Monadnock Region called Solarize Monadnock.

Solarize Monadnock formed in August 2018 under the umbrella group Monadnock Energy Hub. Its campaign resulted in more than 40 solar projects, ranging from 3.8 to 20.08 kilowatts, that have offset nearly 400,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to the organization’s data.

The energy and climate committee is looking at the potential for a solarize campaign that would encompass Keene and Marlborough next year, Shedd said. Part of the push to do such a campaign sooner rather than later, she said, is federal tax incentives for solar, which decrease next year and are slated to end in 2022. If the committee pursues the campaign, she said it would be done with Solarize Monadnock and the Monadnock Energy Hub.

Shedd said at a Nov. 6 meeting that the campaign would benefit from the city’s support, such as having the ability to put up signs at Fuller Park at the city’s recreation center and use city-owned spaces for meetings without a fee.

There could potentially be a couple hundred people for a campaign event, Shedd said, according to the meeting minutes, and a large venue like the Blastos room at Keene Ice would be ideal.

The committee sent a recommendation to the council asking for its support in the form of using city-owned spaces for meetings. The recommendation was referred to the council’s planning, licenses and development committee, which is scheduled to meet Wednesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall, and public input is permitted.

Sierra Hubbard can be reached at 355-8546 or at shubbard@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter

@SierraHubbardKS.