Nancy Gillard Climate Action Team Monadnock Progressive Alliance
Interviewed by Jake Kondrat and Hannah Rettig
Do you have an idea or vision when you think about 100% renewable Keene? What type of
energy will be used, how will our cars look, what kind of energy will be use?
Well the transportation part is 2050, since cars will need to be phased out. If you’re talking about
the vision or the dream well, I believe there will need to be some sort of lifestyle shift, and
certainly, I like to start will energy efficiency, so that we are using less energy. And that is
because the less energy used is the best energy saved, so I’d start there. And then, so that's
looking at transportation, heating, electric, and how we can be more efficient. So that’s how can
we walk more, how can we use renewables where possible in order to make our homes more
efficient, to make our cars more efficient. So I envision a future that uses all that creativity,
innovation, and technology, that during my lifetime has really taken off. I feeling like we are
looking at millenials to lead this charge, and moving it forward to become more of a reality. So
that, by 2050 I envision no fossil fuels sources being used, no nuclear power plants, and
communities that have connected transportation systems within the rural community, so lots of people live without and we need to find more effective and efficient ways of connecting them.
When I first moved to Keene, it was the last year of the train being here, it was really sad to see the train leave. The rail trails are now bike paths which is wonderful, but in the more metropolitan areas of New Hampshire, they are now revisiting rail services. So I think we will be looking at more electric buses, more biking, perhaps new neighborhoods that are developed in a way that is a cluster, and allows for more transportation efficiency and allows people to go to the post office, or a store, or library in a community, and not have to have more services. As well as community gardens, because I believe food security is a part of this. I think we will need; when I envision this, since I see this as more of an envisioning, it’s an action,
it is an ongoing process rather than a vision, because I feel like that limits our possibilities.
So when I envision going to 100% renewable, I see it as a whole system change, or changes, or series of changes. We have to rethink our master plan, including an energy plan, which we don’t currently have in Keene. Keene has done a lot of wonderful initiatives with reducing greenhouse gases, and then we are going to have to go to an energy plan that pushes us forward with zoning, policies with codes, that encourage this
development. And we need to have a whole process of educating and awareness, so that in 2050 we have people that are aware of their energy consumption, as well as how to live a lifestyle that is conscientious of uses of resources, and that could be; there is a tool right now that you can use where you can go put in your energy consumption and track it over a period of time, I would like to see more tools like that so people can be more mindful. All of the lighting can be changed, there are things we can do, right now, today! Where are roof that is flat, or has the right, I’m not an engineer, but if it has the right orientation, and a lot of the flat roofs, like the co-op and the target that have solar and you don’t even see it. So lets immediately access
those, and be mindful as we develop things like solar, that we also need land conservation for
agriculture. I think wind is a great opportunity, not necessarily wind turbines in Keene, but
offshore wind that can be accessible to all of New Hampshire. I’m not sure how much wind there
is in the hill here, and there are zoning laws. So there has to be that balance in planning.
Peterborough right now is working on a zoning policy for solar. So it needs city manager, city
council, mayor, planners, contractors, builders, educated and informed in energy efficiency and
building codes, any new building meeting higher standards, so that it all adds up to reduce our
consumption and to look at how we reach our energy needs through renewables. It is more of a
process than a vision, because it is going to force us to constantly revisit as technologies
become available, and certainly we have to act as aggressively as we can sometime I think oh
2030 why not now? When you look at our campaign we set that as a goal, but if we look at our
benchmark there is no reason that we can’t achieve steps now. Soon we will be getting our
greenhouse gas reports, it’s almost done, which highlights how we have reduced our
greenhouse gas emission, and we know we have. But we need more benchmarks. Where are
we starting from? Where do we stand now? That is harder to access. So I’m excited there are
majors in schools that focus on helping students to see this as a field, it is exciting.
I’m not going to be around around in 2050, but I feel very strongly that I need to work toward
this, for future generations.
How do you feel the college would integrate into all of this? Whether we like it or not the college
does play a part in the development of the town.
I think our town offers a lot for the college students to be, I call it service learning, be involved,
go to city council meetings, meet with city officials, help or be involved with the city coding or
zoning, or resolutions that we might bring forward, or that you might bring forward. And the
college has so much to offer in terms of educating city officials, or educating residents. I’ve lived
here for 38 years, and I’ve learned a lot from going to campus events. Campus discussion,
senior capstone projects, it’s wonderful. So the college can be an educator force, we hope
people become aware of it. We value Keene State, that’s one reason we chose to live here, I
think that is a real asset. So now that you have people like Tom Webler who are teaching great
courses, it is really beneficial. And sharing resources is important to, I know when we met will
the city manager she said that she meets once a week with Melinda Treadwell, to look at ways
that the city and college can collaborate and be all part of the same community. I really think
encouraging Elizabeth Dragon and Melinda Treadwell to share resources, and we are hoping in
out campaign, by showcasing what exist, it will showcase a lot of progress that the college has
made, as well as the city. I think they are the leaders in our community, years ago we worked
with the R.O.C.K.S. program and my husband worked at Wheelock College and the two
recycling programs collabed. So there is a great way to work together and learn from one
another. So we need leaders like you, and the different organizations, as well as the students
that are focusing on this.
A lot of energy issues - if you show people it is actually cost effective to do energy efficiency, and
then with the development of technology, renewables are becoming more affordable, and so if
we look at cooperatives, thats the other piece. So the college sees cost savings in the initiatives
that they’ve already taken and it’s great.
In our class Dr. Webler always wants to make a point to talk about not only who will benefit from
actions but also who will be left behind, do you have any thoughts about this?
Yes I feel very strongly about climate justice, and that everything that we do, this is why I’m so
opposed to fossil fuels because, it is an approach, or at least I feel that is an approach by fossil
fuel industries to go to communities that tend not to be very vocal. That has begun to change
with standing rock and we need to access clean energy and make it affordable to everyone. That is why we need creative financing, we need to look at community development plot grants, we need to look at all the creative initiatives that don’t leave low income, or indigenous communities feeling they are negatively impacted by the development.
That’s why even though HydroQuebec gets its power from a clean energy, if you follow the process of
that it has been very disruptive to those communities. We fought to close Vermont Yankee over
in south Brattleboro, successfully, and that was another example of a small community that is
close to the border. Fortunately they are looking a new economic development for that area,
which while you close something like that, which we believe isn’t good for the environment
because of the whole process of nuclear power. However we don’t want places to suffer
economically either, so that is a big challenge for all of us.
So I think as we go on this path we constantly need to be mindful of how we plan so that we are not making it more difficult for certain parts of the population. I know green energy options, you know the new solar building, they are putting solar panels on their rooftop, their energy consumption on the building is very minimal, but they’re putting them on there through that PPA, something purchase agreement, is
going to be used for low income housing to power them. So I think that there are, again I think
there’s a heightened awareness of this issue, and creative thinking and addressing it. And there
is so much more support, you there really because of the environmental impact, but also the
impact on these indigenous communities. I’m glad that he addresses that.
(Not really a specific question that lead to this, just the way the conversation went)
I really want buildings to have energy audits and portfolios, I might have mentioned this earlier,
and that would be big for the hospital, and also the school system. I read this really interesting
thing last night about a man that was doing a biogas system in India. It is similar to taking your
compost, and he was designing these to be used in rural communities, but it brought me to,
have you ever been up on 89? The visitors center on 89? It is a system that our city manager is
looking at for our wastewater treatment plant, which is our highest energy user. And it becomes
this whole system where you take waste, and it has a garden in the middle, so it saves water
and it all powered right there. She wants to do something like this for agriculture and have it be
like a showcase. So it is that kind of creative thinking that gets me excited. So portfolio manager
and all that, tracking energy consumption so that we are all mindful of how much we use. Plus it
will push some people to make a lifestyle change which is the hard part, to tell people to stop
using their cars as much and things like that. So ways to make it easy for lifestyle changes is
the challenge with new technology. That’s why when you rethink downtown or rethink a
community make it with accables. Conveniently access food, it is probably easier to do that then
telling people not to drive as much. Make communities where this stuff is available, we always
have to find a way to turn it around and positively educate and present, rather than..... Oh
another thing I came across reading that was exciting is to have competition with awards, like
energy awards, and they have an annual water fair here for the fourth grade curriculum, my
boys participated, and it has to do with finding any way to save water. But we could have an
energy challenge/fair and just lots of possibilities with that. So that's where i get excited, thinking
out-side of the box, and different ways to educate. We will certainly need more charging stations
for all of our electric cars, and they did just get a big grant for regional transportation for Keene.
So Mary Brunner I believe is leading that, and she’s the one leading the greenhouse gas report.
How do think Keene can get to 100% renewable? What steps would be taken? And what would
be the easiest and what would be the hardest things?
I actually think the easiest is going to be working with the council and the mayor in getting an
energy plan in place. This is because many things are already in alignment for that in terms of
the greenhouse gas reports.
I think one of the harder things is educating contractors, and individual homeowners, and landlords, and reaching out to the hospital and helping them to see the options for energy efficiency, and accessing that.
It’s tied in with the financial piece, school districts budgets are really limited and while i feel that there is a huge cost savings, schools are going through the same things as the college in terms of old buildings, and
I certainly wouldn’t want them to then have fewer elementary schools because these are too
expensive. Because then you have larger class sizes, and I think a focus on that is important.
So that’s a very good question, we’ve made some progress with some businesses, the bigger
large range thing is the educating and changing, it is so slow to change soning and policy to
support because it means changing your zoning is a process. It takes forever, it goes to
committee and they review it, and it goes to other steps. So it is a slow process, but because
they have been doing this and have asked for an energy plan, I think it will be something that
will get moved along more quickly. So that is a hard one, being able to educate people. That is
where Keene State, you know having to plannel people and thinking of different ways to
educate the public.... And with a lot of the older homes in keene, it is tough. Plus with 60%
being rentals it is also hard because of that. The students that are helping to collect data for the
movement is a wonderful example of how the college can help out the community, it’s great.
(Again not really a question leading to this but the conversation)
These communities have their own geography that play a role, we have our hillsides, it is a
lakebed. How do we preserve the natural beauty of the area and the things that we enjoy here,
since I’ve lived here all of the farms by the high school have closed. So it is a process.