Solar panels

PETERBOROUGH — A grassroots group that wants to see Peterborough transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 will host a panel discussion tonight, launching its campaign to pass a warrant article at town meeting this spring.

During the Zoom conversation, climate scientists will discuss how climate change is affecting New Hampshire and what local communities can do to make a difference, according to a news release from Peterborough Energy Action.

The group is calling on the town to set a goal of obtaining 100 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030 and all of its heating and transportation energy from renewable sources within the next 30 years, as Keene and other communities in New Hampshire have pledged to do.

According to Dori Drachman, a member of Peterborough Energy Action, some strategies for achieving this could include a community power program, weatherization options and enhancing infrastructure for electric vehicles. A community power program is a process by which municipalities can purchase power on behalf of residents and business owners, which allows them to have some control over where the electricity comes from.

“We will be getting ... an overview of what we can expect in New Hampshire as the climate continues to change, and we’ll also be getting ideas about the things we can do to reverse it,” Drachman said Tuesday. “While it is dire, our actions still really matter.”

The energy group plans to submit a warrant article for Peterborough’s 2021 town meeting, asking the community to commit to the clean-energy benchmarks. If that passes, the release says, the next step would be to establish a committee to come up with a plan for meeting those goals, which would be due by the end of 2022.

The proposal stems from the nationwide Ready for 100 initiative, organized by the Sierra Club, which asks communities to commit to transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy.

Participating on Thursday’s panel will be climate scientists Erich Osterberg from Dartmouth College and Cameron Wake from the University of New Hampshire. Attendees will be able to ask questions and learn more about options for transitioning to clean energy.

“I’ll be doing an introduction to talk about the campaign, and [the scientists] will each be speaking about 10 minutes,” Drachman said. “That leaves a lot of time for questions and answers and discussion.”

Last month, Drachman presented the group’s plan to submit a warrant article to members of the Peterborough selectboard, who seemed generally supportive of the proposal. Drachman emphasized that Peterborough would hardly be the first community to strive for ambitious goals, noting that, in addition to Keene, the communities of Hanover, Plainfield, Cornish and Concord have all adopted similar objectives.

While the panel discussion is taking place, Keene’s City Council will be meeting to discuss its own energy plan, which has been two years in the making. The draft plan came before the council on Dec. 17, for what some expected to be the final approval, but was sent back to committee due to concerns about two programs the plan calls for.

Over the coming months, Peterborough Energy Action intends to host a number of community dialogues to give people a chance to discuss what that town’s plan might look like, including on Jan. 28, Feb. 2 and Feb. 3.

“This is really a transformational vision,” Drachman said. “There will be concerns that come up along the way and misperceptions that come up along the way. We really want to know what they are so we can assure them if it’s a misperception or grapple with it if it’s a concern we haven’t considered yet.”

People can register for Thursday’s panel, which kicks off at 7 p.m., or the group’s other events at www.peterboroughenergyaction.org

Mia Summerson can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or msummerson@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter

@MiaSummerson