In response to Mr. Tousley’s letter of Feb 3 (“City energy plan a feel-good measure”), I believe that some “feel-good” measures are worth pursuing if they lead to substantive change.

Keene’s Sustainable Energy Plan, approved unanimously by the Keene City Council on Jan. 28, provides a roadmap toward a more sustainable future. This energy plan (it is not an ordinance) allows our community to take some responsibility for our future. It is not a mandate — it is a pathway. Every resident can choose to take another path that might make more sense to them.

I commend Mr. Tousley for installing the 145-kVA solar array on his building. And he makes a good point about the drawbacks of solar arrays. Many of them are not (yet) made in the United States and they eventually will have to be recycled. However, every form of energy production has some drawbacks; they use resources and there is the potential for pollution. Fossil fuel started originally as solar energy, and if we ignore all the energy it took to get those photons into deep deposits of coal, oil or gas over millions of years, it still takes more energy (and pollution) to pull it out of the ground and deliver it to Keene. At least solar panels bypass most of those steps by converting sunlight directly into electricity.

Conservation is the only form of energy that has no impact on our environment. It is for this reason that the Energy and Climate Committee included tools to promote energy conservation in the energy plan. Two of them are the Home Energy Labeling Program and the Benchmarking Program. These are both voluntary and both programs went through extensive public review since first proposed last spring.

The Labeling program will give homebuyers or renters the ability to compare energy efficiencies of prospective homes or apartments, thus encouraging conservation measures. The Benchmarking Program will help building owners, as the plan states, “measure the energy efficiency of their building against comparable buildings from across the country and identify buildings that could benefit most from energy efficiency improvements.” It will also allow the city to track progress toward our goal of 100 percent renewables by 2050.

We suffer no illusion that moving to 100 percent renewables will be easy, but we have little choice but to act.



(This writer chairs the city’s Energy and Climate Committee.)