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MEMBER FEATURE: a conversation with Elaine Hamel, Program Director and Founder of Girls At Work, Inc.

Empowering girls uplifts communities and that is precisely what Girls At Work aims to accomplish in Manchester, NH. 27 years ago, the nonprofit's founder, Elaine Hamel, took in a 10-year-old neighbor whose parents were struggling with addiction. Wanting to provide this girl every opportunity she could, Elaine offered her skills as a general contractor in exchange for summer camp enrollment. Instead of building for the camp itself, however, the camp director asked Elaine to come in and teach the girls how to build. The building classes caught on like wildfire and soon enough Elaine was traveling to camps across the state teaching girls how to use power tools. Continuing to work out of the back of her pick-up truck no longer became feasible, though, and in 1999 Elaine built a barn on her property in Goffstown, NH to serve as a workshop for Girls At Work, her newly incorporated nonprofit (registered officially in 2001).

unnamed-2_0.jpgIn 2014 Girls At Work expanded into an old school building in Manchester's South End, where they now offer four 8-week afterschool sessions to struggling inner city girls per year and four weeks of Summer Camp, both designed to build up each little girl to be her strongest most capable self.

So, what kind of difference does Girls At Work make for the thousands of girls who have gone through the program? "I've had parents come to me in tears sharing how much Girls At Work has helped their daughters," Elaine answers, "Girls At Work is an absolute game changer. So many girls are just discouraged and don't want to go to school because of bullying. In a culture that so often disempowers girls and women, we have the opportunity to build their self-confidence and empower them. It's completely life changing." Through developing critical thinking skills, applying math in engaging and hands on ways, and giving girls the opportunity to work together to solve difficult challenges, Girls At Work's programming provides participants with the real life experience of feeling empowered and accomplished.

Supported primarily through fundraisers, partnerships and donations, Girls At Work is also able to fund the afterschool programs and camps through 

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team building programs offered to companies throughout New England. In these programs companies enroll up to 50 employees to work in small groups at the shop, or onsite at their company, to build picnic tables. No experience at all is required and the precut lumber and limited instruction provide an environment for employees to dig deep within, while connecting with others on a challenging task. The finished tables are then donated to nonprofits in the area of the build. These team building programs create an awareness of the importance of empowering girls, as well as a deeper understanding as to why we all need to step up for these girls. This program also offers businesses a unique way to engage their employees in a team building activity that promotes cooperation, creative thinking, and an empowering sense of accomplishment.

Girls At Work is excited to be a part of NHBSR and is inspired to create new partnerships with businesses dedicated to social responsibility. These partnerships will provide an exciting opportunity to build a stronger future for our young girls, while spreading the word about the importance of Girls At Work’s mission. "Businesses are always excited to learn about how we are  empowering our inner-city girls and even more excited to know that they can join forces with us to have a stronger impact,” says Elaine.   

Given our current climate with bullying, it is extremely important that organizations have a strong focus on empowerment, especially in the case of young girls. Girls at Work is proud to provide a safe and supportive environment where young girls are encouraged to  discover and fully engage their power not only in the shop, but in all areas of life.

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(Photo Credit: Trayce Gregoire)

You can contact Elaine at elaine@girlswork.org to find out more about Girls At Work and their opportunities for empowering girls and women in the Granite State.


Throughout the year New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility collects "Just One Thing" stories of sustainability initiatives from across the state, in the areas of community, environment and workplace. These leading efforts are then showcased as part of NHBSR's Sustainability Slam in the fall. Last year Monadnock Paper Mills won NHBSR's 2017 Sustainability Slam for its invaluable contributions to New Hampshire communities.


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In 2019 Monadnock Paper Mills in Bennington, NH will celebrate 200 years in the paper making industry. At the forefront of sustainable packaging and paper products, Monadnock values incorporating materials from alternative, sustainable fibers and post-consumer sources. In 2017 the paper mill saw an opportunity to reuse some of the 25 million imported burlap coffee bean bags that would, with no intervention, eventually end up as approximately 55 million pounds of natural fiber in the waste stream. That year Monadnock launched its Kona line of products, using shredded coffee bags to create fibers to add to paper. The Kona line now features paper for boxes, tags, and labels in an array of beautiful natural colors that are sought out by sustainability focused brands. This successful closed loop packaging story proves just how much environmentally conscious businesses can thrive in creative and impactful ways, doing well for themselves and our planet.

You can learn more about the Kona product line and other great sustainability initiatives throughout the state by attending NHBSR's Sustainability Slam in the fall. "It's fun. It's energetic. And it's competitive, with people getting more and more creative and out of the box in their presentations," described Lisa Berghaus, Director of Marketing Communications at Monadnock, when asked about NHBSR's Sustainability Slam. "For me, it was a little self-deprecating! I wore a coffee bean bag during my presentation. But the audience at NHBSR's Sustainability Slam is the best. They're friendly and supportive and as long as you're passionate about the work you're doing to improve New Hampshire, whether it is in feeding people, improving the environment, or making things better for employees, you can do no wrong!"

Connect with Lisa at our Sustainability Slam on Nov 1 in Amherst or reach out to her by email at lberghaus@mpm.com!!

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Watch Monadnock's winning Just One Thing story video here.

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Submit your Just One Thing story here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:30pm
Join us for an evening of delicious pizza and great conversation

Throughout the year New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility collects "Just One Thing" stories of sustainability initiatives from across the state, in the areas of community, environment and workplace. These leading efforts are then showcased as part of NHBSR's Sustainability Slam in the fall. Last year Jewett Construction won NHBSR's 2017 Sustainability Slam for its invaluable contributions to New Hampshire communities.


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[The Monarch School in Rochester, NH serves children with special intellectual, physical, and behavioral needs]

For nearly 50 years, Jewett Construction has had a strong commitment to community engagement and supporting nonprofits. One of Jewett’s first nonprofit capital projects was for the Boy Scouts of America to construct the Camp Carpenter dining hall in Manchester, NH. Since then Jewett Construction has played a pivotal role in ensuring nonprofits across New England are able to build the facilities they need to run their programs and services, including the YMCA in Exeter, NH, the Monarch School of New England in Rochester, NH and the Center for Wildlife in York, Maine.

In supporting nonprofit projects along varied stages of their expansion, from their capital campaigns to leveraging community partnerships and resources to the final phases of construction, Jewett is able to create a positive and, ultimately, very successful building experience for nonprofits. Jewett is particularly experienced in finding creative and inexpensive ways to make large scale construction projects feasible to cash-strapped nonprofits, enlisting vendors, subcontractors, architects and engineers willing to offer in kind donations or materials at costs.

There is a risk in being involved in such lengthy projects with so many moving parts and pieces, but Jewett Construction remains steadfastly committed to supporting nonprofits and the crucial community services they provide. Ever mindful of the impact Jewett has in its communities and the world, the construction company is also particularly attentive to building using environmentally friendly techniques, such as incorporating recycled materials, solar panels and natural skylight features and elements.

Learn more about Jewett Constructions' winning Just One Thing story and the work of other leading business in the state by attending NHBSR's Sustainability Slam on November 1 in Amherst, NH. "The Sustainability Slam is a great learning experience." Eric Cimon, Marketing Directors of Jewett Construction, enthused, "You will take away something your company can apply in your own work and connect with other great businesses in the state. It helped us highlight the work that we do with nonprofits, work that a lot of people didn't realize we had a commitment to. And it's just a really great creative platform. I don't know of any similar presentation platform out there that is as effective at showcasing a company's sustainability work. We got a lot of exposure by participating and it opened up a number of doors to additional projects."

Connect with Eric at our Sustainability Slam on Nov 1 in Amherst or reach out to him by email at ecimon@jewettconstruction.com!!

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Watch Jewett's winning Just One Thing story video here.

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Submit your Just One Thing story here.

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MEMBER FEATURE: a conversation with Kristen Lamb, Executive Director of the Center for Wildlife, and Emma Balina, Development Director of the Center for Wildlife

The Center for Wildlife provides a thriving hub for environmental stewardship, education, and advocacy in New England.

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The Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick, Maine started out in 1986 as a shelter for injured and orphaned wild animals. The center received about 100 wild animals a week in its first year and provided clinical care for many of these animals with successful rehabilitation back into their natural habitats. In 1991 the Center for Wildlife started to take preventative measures and launched a public education program as staff recognized that the majority of animals they received were arriving to them with diseases and injuries caused by humans.

Now the center treats 190 species of local birds, small mammals, and reptiles, approximately 2,200 wild animals a year, coming from Maine to Massachusetts and spanning a 100-mile radius out from Cape Neddick, Maine. It offers 350 education programs serving learners aged 2 to 92 with the hopes that greater environmental education and knowledge about what people can do and why they should care will inspire greater stewardship of our natural world. The center also offers numerous community volunteer and internship opportunities for those wishing to learn more and be more involved.

release2.jpg"And for interns and staff at the Center for Wildlife," says Kristen Lamb, Executive Director of the Center for Wildlife, "we are very committed to wellness. Burnout and compassion fatigue is common in our line of work, so it's important for us to really take care of our employees with competitive benefits packages and by fostering a positive work culture." The center also regularly brings in guest speakers on interesting topics like local herbalism and offers employees membership to a local museum or park of their choosing.

Operating out of just a 1,200 square foot house, the Center for Wildlife provides an impressive array of programs, services, and learning opportunities to visitors and employees alike. But with the pressure of rapid growth and development in the region, the center is investing in a capital campaign so that it will be able respond to the exponentially increasing need for its services and programs due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Slated to be completed in 2019, their new campus will link up 16,000 acres of conservation land and include a facility that runs completely on solar power. The layout will take into consideration 

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the natural slope of the land and include pollinator gardens, vernal pools, and rain water collection landscaping. Everything from the downward facing LED lights to decrease light pollution and its effects on wildlife will be built keeping the natural world in mind.

"We joined NHBSR," remarks Kristen, "Because we want to be a part of the conversation in leading the charge in environmental sustainability. We're a nonprofit, boots on the ground organization, and we want to find ways to collaborate and share resources and knowledge to be able to have a greater overall community impact." There are a number of projects that the center has been able to undertake because of partnerships with like-minded businesses, including the capital campaign, which is a partnership with NHBSR member company Jewett Construction.

"We want people to know that we're here," says Emma Balina, Development Director of the Center for Wildlife, "We love that people visit us and bring their families. There are so many ways for people to get involved, from individuals to businesses, and we really want to foster and promote those meaningful partnerships."

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Concept art for the Center for Wildlife's new campus coming in 2019

You can reach out to Emma at emma@thecenterforwildlife.org or (207) 361-1400 x107 to find out more about the Center for Wildlife and their capital campaign, sustainability efforts, and education programs.

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Throughout the year New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility collects "Just One Thing" stories of sustainability initiatives from across the state, in the areas of community, environment and workplace. These leading efforts are then showcased as part of NHBSR's Sustainability Slam in the fall. Last year the Hanover Co-op Food Stores' Pennies for Change program won NHBSR's 2017 Sustainability Slam for its incredible contributions to New Hampshire communities.


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Pennies for Change is a round-up program where members and shoppers at the Hanover Co-op Food Stores (Hanover and Lebanon, and White River Junction, Vermont) can add to the total amount of their purchases up to the next whole dollar. The Co-op then donates 100% of the extra money collected each month to local nonprofits. On average, Pennies for Change raises around a quarter million dollars each year (approximately $20,000 a month) towards helping feed the hungry and support other vital community needs.**

Because of Pennies for Change, local nonprofits which generally work under very tight budgets to meet ever-increasing demands are able to actually grow their programs and services. For example: 

  • Willing Hands collects and redistributes surplus food from the Hanover Co-op, farms, bakeries, and other stores to people in need. Pennies for Change donations financed both a new truck and increased staffing for Willing Hands to expand its services, allowing it to serve more hungry neighbors.
  • Upper Valley Haven offers another example of the Co-op's high community impact. This nonprofit, which provides housing, food and counseling services to families and individuals experiencing poverty, used Pennies for Change donations to redesign their Food Shelf so that their clients had more freedom and choice in food options.
  • Furthermore, LISTEN out of Lebanon, New Hampshire added Saturday meals to their weekly community dinner calendar, serving and additional 5,000 meals per year. A host of 25 other rotating nonprofits were similarly able to increase the impact and reach of their work because of Pennies for Change.

You can learn more about Pennies for Change and other great sustainability initiatives throughout the state by attending NHBSR's Sustainability Slam in the fall. Allan Reetz, Director of Public Relations at the Hanover Co-op Food Stores said, "NHBSR's Sustainability Slam was well-worth the nearly four-hour roundtrip it took me to attend. I got to see firsthand the range of work being done by sharp New Hampshire business people. Learning from and collaborating with socially responsible leaders is good for our cooperative. Plus, attending the Slam is another easy way I commit to being an active member of the NHBSR network."

Connect with Allan at our Sustainability Slam on Nov 1 in Amherst or reach out to him by email at AReetz@coopfoodstore.com!!

**By encouraging rounding up on electronic payment transactions, the Hanover Co-op Food Stores is able to dramatically increase the amount of funds they can donate to community projects.

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Watch Hanover's winning Just One Thing story video here.

 

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Submit your Just One Thing story here.

By Pamela Gordon, Senior Consultant and TFI Antea Group Collaboration Leader

From attracting new investors and meeting evolving consumer expectations to gaining a competitive advantage through innovation, there’s little doubt that embedding sustainability within your company’s overall strategy offers a wealth of business benefits—all while making the world a better place. In fact, in its “The Business Case for Eco-Innovation” publication, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reported that companies with a focus on eco-innovation are growing at an average rate of 15% annually. 

But despite your best intentions to design, implement, and track sustainability programs that are highly effective, the question is: Are your sustainability initiatives really living up to their full business potential? 

Since adding sustainability consulting to our breadth of services, Antea Group has partnered with executives and sustainability leaders at companies across an array of industries to help them uncover sustainability risks and opportunities—all with the goal of helping them achieve maximum sustainability ROI.   

As a result of our work, some common opportunities for improvement have emerged. In this piece, we talk with Pamela Gordon, Senior Consultant and TFI-Antea Group Collaboration Leader, about three of those opportunities. With two decades of coaching and sustainability consulting under her belt, Gordon offers interesting insight and examples that your organization can leverage to drive business performance and sustainability success. 

OPPORTUNITY 1: RECOGNIZING INTERNAL BLIND SPOTS 
Even if your company has made its commitment to sustainability known by baking it into the overall business strategy and company culture, you aren’t immune to internal blind spots. To illustrate this point, Gordon shares a real-life example: 

Years ago, I visited the headquarters of a large electronics company. I was already impressed with their operation when we visited the cafeteria. The cafeteria deeply reflected their sustainability model—there were no one-use implements and food waste was being composted. It was impressive. 

But about a year later, I visited that company again and that was no longer the case. There were plastic utensils, one-use plates, plastic packaging, and the trash was overflowing. Of course, I asked the sustainability champion at the company: “What happened?” 

While they thought their sustainability initiatives were comprehensive, when an opportunity came to change vendors, someone in procurement made what they thought was a sensible, cost-effective change. The problem? Sustainability principles were not part of the selection criteria—not to mention the fact that the company was already saving money with greener practices.

As you can see, internal blind spots can disrupt your sustainability initiatives. As a result, you need to make sure you’re drawing the internal circle wide enough to help ensure success. 

OPPORTUNITY 2: LOOKING BEYOND COMPANY WALLS 
While there are many forward-thinking companies that are pushing beyond their organizational boundaries to optimize value chains and enhance product stewardship, this is still an unrealized opportunity for most businesses. Why? Because many are narrowly focused on the sustainability aspects within their facilities alone, according to Gordon. 

“From raw materials to distribution to what happens after use, in order to get the most ROI out of your sustainability initiatives, you have to look at the bigger picture—and that means enabling your suppliers and your customers to contribute and share in the benefits,” she says. 

While it may be tempting to say that you can’t control your suppliers or your customers, from our perspective that’s far from the truth. You hold power and influence over your suppliers with the contracts you hold. As for your customers, you can offer them a benefit they didn’t have before by designing products with the entire lifecycle in mind. 

OPPORTUNITY 3: CREATING A COMPREHENSIVE SUSTAINABILITY ROADMAP 
Sustainability programs certainly require an investment of time, resources, and budget. But like any investment, the strategy needs to include measurable short-term and long-term goals, as well as the right key performance indicators (KPIs) and tactics that will guide your path. 

Of course, the common question for many is: “Where do I start?” Here’s what Gordon had to say on the subject: 

Through our sustainability leadership consulting work, we coach executives to develop long-term high-sustainability roadmaps that include both monetary elements (i.e. cost savings and new revenues) as well as environmental metrics (i.e., reducing unnecessary use of materials, energy, water, and transportation).  

This begins with conducting a materiality assessment to uncover what has the best immediate and future potential for environmental and business gains. From there, these opportunities are vetted and plotted across the roadmap, which then serves as a measurement and benchmarking tool and as a guide. 

While developing your roadmap will absolutely require time, effort, and resources—it’s a necessary investment to help ensure your business goals and sustainability initiatives are working together in harmony to drive shared value.  

If you don’t have the internal resources or expertise, consider partnering with a sustainability consulting firm. A firm’s team of consultants offer broad-based knowledge and expertise, as well as objectivity that can help uncover opportunities or risks that you may have missed. 

DRIVE SUSTAINABILITY ROI 
As the realities of climate change reveal themselves more and more each day, it’s time to dig deep to determine whether your sustainability initiatives are making a difference for the world and your bottom line.

Read the original article here

Owner Priscilla Lane-Rondeau came up with the idea for 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria when she realized that there was no place in New Hampshire that she could have a nice glass of wine and a homemade slice of pizza made from fresh, good quality ingredients.

 

MEMBER FEATURE: a conversation with Priscilla Lane-Rondeau, Owner of 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria

 

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The Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean extends a mile deeper than Earth's highest point, Mt. Everest. As the deepest part of the ocean, you'd expect any images of this vast underwater world to inspire awe and wonder. In April, however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a picture of the Mariana Trench and people were horrified by the image that took front and center, a single use plastic bag.

 

"People don't realize," says Priscilla Lane-Rondeau, owner of 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, "The straw you use for 20 minutes will last forever in the environment." In an effort to decrease the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our environment, however, Priscilla and other sustainability conscious restaurant owners are launching a campaign to completely eliminate the use of plastic straws. This campaign, informally referred to as "Skip the Straw" or "Stop Sucking," is one very achievable and practical way that we may all help offset our plastic use wastage.

 

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900 Degrees used to go through 10,000 plastic straws a month. In the restaurant industry, including a straw with every beverage is such a pervasive practice that servers and bartenders often do so without a second thought. To help employees transition over to going strawless, Priscilla cleverly selected shorter glasses to serve drinks in. For customers who insist on a straw, 900 Degrees offers a compostable corn alternative. The cost of providing this alternative carries about a tenfold increase in price and is much more expensive to the restaurant. Ideally, with the educational component of "Skip the Straw," posters and table tents to encourage customers to rethink their resource usage, customers will stop requesting straws altogether.

 

"Restaurants are some of the biggest waste contributors when you account for everything from napkins to single use to-go containers," Priscilla explains, "so it is important for restaurants to be aware and to take responsibility for this." From using shades and rugs made from recycled materials, to LED lights, composting, and even the type of glue that is used for the floor tiles, Priscilla is always looking for ways to be more environmentally responsible in her restaurants.

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The biggest challenge, Priscilla believes, is that restaurant owners do not have the awareness or time to research better, sustainable practices. But she hopes to use her involvement in the NH Lodging & Restaurant Association as a platform to help inspire others in the hospitality industry to be more sustainable. "It is possible to have an amazing product and be concerned about the environment," Priscilla empathically advocates. Employing 130 full and part time workers and having just opened its third location in Portsmouth, 900 Degrees exemplifies just that.

 

You can reach out to Priscilla at plane@900degrees.com to find out more about "Skip the Straw" and her sustainability efforts in the restaurant industry. And, if you're craving a nice glass of wine, paired with your favorite slice of pizza, be sure to stop by either the Manchester, Epping, or Portsmouth 900 Degrees location.

There’s potential for greater security, efficiency, fuel diversity and infrastructure resiliency

By Michael Behrmann, Director of the New Hampshire Clean Tech Council

michaelbehrmann-a0820636-02250359.jpegOur modern age of connectivity provides limitless opportunities for us to easily connect with one another for purposes of communication, commerce and just about anything you can imagine. While the benefits of this connectivity have fundamentally changed the global economy, it also brings with it a number of new challenges.

In the energy sector, internet-based connectivity requires us to address the challenge of protecting our electric power infrastructure from cyberattacks that could shut down the electricity system that powers our society. Could microgrids be part of the solution to this challenge?   

In late March of this year, the American public discovered our electric power grid had been the target of a major Russian-based hacking event over the course of two years. Fortunately, the hackers were unable to infiltrate and topple the grid. The attack did, however, open our eyes to the reality of how vulnerable our grid is to hacking and the potential severe impacts of those breaches on our society. 

Utilities work very hard to secure the grid but still experience frequent hacking events, to the tune of hundreds to potentially thousands of attempted hacks a day. What is currently being done is just not enough. In reality, if nothing changes it is likely only a matter of time before a catastrophic event occurs in the Northeast. What does it cost to have our businesses go down? How much is the cost to that lost business revenue, let alone the human toll? As recently discussed by Utility Dive in a related article, Llyod’s of London issued an analysis in 2015 noting an “economic loss of a widespread attack on the U.S. power grid at anywhere from $243 billion up to $1 trillion.” With such staggering losses it is difficult to comprehend the true economic damage to our country. That leads to the enormously important question of how we can protect ourselves and avoid such a devastating attack. 

This current reality requires immediate action to protect your business, your home, and the overall electric grid. Many cybersecurity experts, the federal Department of Energy, public officials and industry experts view the development and use of microgrids as a possible solution. 

A microgrid is created as a small(er) grid that can disconnect from the centralized grid infrastructure and create an islanding effect for a specific service area. These areas are largely powered by distributed energy resources like solar, wind, biomass, combined heat and power (CHP), and appropriately paired with sufficient storage to handle enough resource to manage the service area and silo the cyber threat. This ability to isolate and operate independently allows those residents and businesses to continue receiving power while their area operates autonomously. The ability to create a software barrier to the cyber threat provides an additional layer of protection that a large centralized software system can have difficulty with. 

With billions of planned grid investment occurring around the country in the coming years, we will see more microgrids considered and built. Last year, the first utility-scale microgrid project in the United States came online in Illinois, which can provide power to roughly 200 local residents. With more and more communities looking at these systems for both security and resiliency benefits there are sure to be more utility-scale projects to come.  

Closer to New Hampshire, the Town of Sterling Massachusetts installed a 2 megawatt and 3.9 megawatt-hour battery storage system at the Sterling Municipal Light Department to provide resiliency and 12 days worth of power for emergency services in the town. According to the Clean Energy States Alliance, Sterling has saved over $400,000 dollars of tax payer money since turning it on one year ago. 

The development of microgrids underscores the potential for greater security, efficiency, fuel diversity, and more resilient energy infrastructure to keep homes and businesses safely receiving power. Microgrids, powered by renewable energy and supported by storage, is rapidly growing as a cost-effective method of protection for our infrastructure. As we prepare for the future and work to protect New Hampshire from the impacts of cybersecurity threats against the electric grid, these technologies will be crucial to that success. Keep microgrids in your mind and in the minds of our policymakers, not just for our utilities, but for our homes, businesses and our state.   

Until next month…keep it clean New Hampshire! 

Read the original article here

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