Planning a brewery in Peterborough, “the greenest town in New Hampshire,” I spend many of my days looking for ways to reduce our energy consumption before we even begin. Are there things that we can do during our build-out that will help us cut back our monthly usage? Can we afford to do them? What are our options?
This is a frequent topic of conversation among brewers, many of whom turn to CJ White, Executive Director of the Granite State Brewers Association (GSBA), for guidance. To shed some light on the topic, GSBA recently joined forces with seven other partners to present NH Energy Week, four days of events in Concord that served to educate guests on how New Hampshire has been working to implement renewable and energy efficient technologies. I was lucky enough to be among the 200 attendees of the Energy Breakfast, which opened my eyes to resources that I did not know were available. (The delicious free food and the rare opportunity to sit at the cool kids table were nice side bonuses too.)
Held at the Grappone Conference Center—an impressive solar-powered facility that keeps bees and grows its own organic greens on site—the breakfast featured three panel discussions along with some short videos about NH energy leaders. Representatives from Londonderry, Bedford, Claremont, and Manchester led the first discussion, each telling what his or her town has done to reduce their energy usage and save taxpayer dollars. From Bedford’s geothermal library to Manchester’s Energy Star-awarded schools, municipalities throughout the state are taking advantage of tax credits and incentives to make a positive change.
The second panel offered manufacturers’ perspectives on current and future energy initiatives throughout the state, giving insight into the economic aspect of energy saving for larger-scale factories. With several state legislators in the audience, the call for reliable, long-term incentives was especially powerful.
The final panel included three hands-on innovators in the energy field, from the NH Electric Co-op, the NH Sustainable Energy Association, and Peregrine Energy Group. Perfectly poised to wrap up the breakfast on a positive note, they all pointed towards new and improving technologies which, with education and cooperation, can truly transform our state’s future.
As compelling as these three panel discussions were, when they ended I still had no idea how I could apply what I had just heard to my own business. So I did what I have grown accustomed to doing when I have questions: introduced myself to strangers and asked. Just across the table from me was Cynthia Nelson, a Pollution Prevention Specialist from the Department of Environmental Services. She’s been working with breweries across the state to increase their efficiency, and less than a week after our breakfast, she came out to Peterborough to review our plans and offer guidance. From the folks at the Community Development Finance Authority, I learned that there are grants available to help with the up-front cost of energy-saving technologies and building improvements we are making.
I could go on and on about the interesting people I met, but the real point is that our state is full of people who are actively working to change our energy future. And in my experience, they’re happy to help. You just have to ask!