Peterborough Renewable Energy Planning team works on gathering public input

· PREP News and Events,Monadnock Ledger-Transcript - PREP Talks

Julia Stinneford, Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

The Peterborough Renewable Energy Planning team held its final “PREP Talks” session of the year Wednesday in the Peterborough Town Library, as it collects feedback from residents on its goals.

“We’re learning a lot about what people care about,” said Dori Drachman, one of the team’s leaders. “It’s been interesting to see. The trouble is getting people to come.”

The PREP team was formed following Town Meeting passage of a warrant article in the spring that called for the town to commit to transitioning to 100% renewable sources of electricity by 2030, and the same for all other energy needs by 2050. The article passed with 74% support, and the PREP team is now tasked with drafting a plan to guide the town toward renewable energy, a plan that is scheduled to be completed by next December.

The meetings have been drawing about eight to 10 people, Drachman said, although the most-recent one drew three attendees, one of whom is on the PREP team and wanted to weigh in. Another in attendance was Bill Sabey, a resident of a town in Pennsylvania who joined via Zoom to gather inspiration for how to host public meetings for his own town’s renewable energy plan.

The talks are intended to gather as much preliminary input as possible, and the ultimate goal is to get an accurate sense of what Peterborough residents care about when it comes to renewable energy, according to Drachman.

After receiving an introduction to PREP and the warrant article, those who attend a PREP Talk are given a questionnaire with a series of three guiding questions. They ask what about the energy goals excites and concerns people, which specific goals should be prioritized and what personal experience and challenges people have had with trying to increase energy efficiency. Answers to these questions are discussed as a group.

These questions have yielded varying results, according to Drachman, and have given the PREP team a lot to think about.

“We’ve gotten a lot of different perspectives,” she said. “It’s all about sharing personal experience and opinions.” The team is learning that, for example some people care more about reducing greenhouse gas emissions while others want the team to focus on energy costs, and that everybody has a slightly differing outlook on the significance of the project.

In an effort to gather more of this data for the team to work with, Drachman said they’re considering putting the questionnaire online as a form people can fill out.

“It could help draw in more numbers,” Drachman said. “But you don’t get the conversation that way, so it’s not quite as full.”

PREP hopes to start developing a preliminary structure on the electricity portion of the energy goal, and Drachman said the group is looking more in-depth community input meetings on the subject along with presenting their progress to the Select Board soon.

Until then, their next PREP talks are set for the new year, in late January. Drachman said anybody and everybody in town is welcome, and the team is hoping for as much feedback as possible as it works on the plan.

Registration for the upcoming talks is available on PREP’s website, The next meetings are set for Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m.