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2016 News

News items from 2016.

Also see Planning News, a page specifically designed for those involved with planning in New Hampshire.

2016 News
Date News Item

Not Enough Snow: Drought will still be concern in 2017

This winter, so far, has avoided easy comparisons to the snowier or warmer days of winters past. Statistically, a normal amount of snow and rain has fallen on the region. However, the December 2016 precipitation has done little to allay the fears of environmental experts and local officials who are concerned that this summer's drought may continue into the spring without sufficient snow melt.


AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit

After driving, walking is the most popular mode of transportation in the United States. However, in many towns, cities and neighborhoods, the only way to get around is by car because walking is just too dangerous. The AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit has been created to help individuals, groups and local leaders assess the walkability of the sidewalks and streets in their community.


Rebuilding Downtown

Downtowns, Main Streets, and city centers across the country are witnessing a renaissance. As more Americans chose the convenience and connectivity of walkable neighborhoods, communities are seeing new businesses, restaurants, and shops open in areas that were formerly vacant or economically distressed. This movement presents an economic opportunity for communities. Creating a vibrant, walkable neighborhood can help attract and retain talented people and the companies that want to hire them. It can expand economic opportunity within your community, and create a culture of engagement. It can help your region grow without compromising open land or working farms. It can also make your town or city stand out within your region as a destination to shop, dine, visit, move to, or invest. It’s a chance to celebrate your community’s diverse history, create new opportunities for long-time neighborhood residents, and to achieve the triple-bottom line of a more equitable community, stronger economy, and protected environment.


Expanding the Economic Recovery to All Americans through Smarter Growth

One of the biggest challenges for the incoming administration is making the economy work for low- and middle-income workers and households. This short guide of federal policy recommendations, organized into five main goals, is designed to help the next administration accomplish just that.


Municipalities Take Climate Adaptation Actions

The Tides to Storms 2 - Climate Adaptation Implementation project engaged New Hampshire's seven Atlantic coastal municipalities in implementing recommendations from the Rockingham Planning Commission's (RPC) Tides to Storms Vulnerability Assessment (2015). In response to Rockingham Planning Commission’s solicitation to provide technical assistance, each municipality self-selected their project. Read more in the Rockingham Planning Commission December newsletter.


The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities encourages states, cities, towns and counties to prepare for the rapid aging of the U.S. population by paying increased attention to the environmental, economic and social factors that influence the health and well-being of older adults. By doing so, these communities are better equipped to become great places, and even lifelong homes, for people of all ages. More than 61 million people have joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. Communities that hold a membership have made the commitment to actively work toward making their town, city or county a great place for people of all ages.


Coastal Federation offers New Resource for Information on Living Shorelines

The North Carolina Coastal Federation offers a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective way for waterfront property owners protect their property from erosion. The federation recently launched Living Shorelines Academy, a national resource that promotes erosion control practices that protect both property and the environment. The website was developed in partnership with Restore America’s Estuaries, with financial support from the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a NCCF news release announcing the new resource. Living Shorelines Academy is a free online resource for property owners, real estate agents, marine contractors, environmental agencies, engineers and other waterfront stakeholders who seek to find the most cost-effective way to protect estuarine shorelines from erosion.


Volkswagen Launches Electrify America Website and Solicits ZEV Investment Proposals from States

As part of their diesel emissions settlement agreement, Volkswagen Group of America (VW) has launched, which provides information on VW's Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure and awareness campaign, as well as details on how states, municipalities, and others can submit proposals to help inform VW's ZEV investment plans over the next ten years. VW is "looking for recommendations with broad support and relevance and encourage(s) individuals to consult with federal agencies, state governments, regional authorities, municipalities, or federally-recognized Indian tribes on proposals they may be developing." The period to submit proposals for recommendations for the first 30-month investment cycle will end on January 16th, and additional proposals will be considered after the 16th on a rolling basis. All submissions will become the property of Volkswagen Group of America, and should not include proprietary information as submissions could be shared publicly.

For more information, and to submit a proposal, please visit VW's website, Questions on the Volkswagen settlement can also be sent to Cassie Powers at the National Association of State Energy Officials.


Revitalizing New England’s Strip Development

New England consists mainly of a vast network of small rural towns connected by a web of two-lane state highways and back roads – a dispersed settlement pattern rooted deeply in an agricultural heritage. Historically, a town’s civic, cultural, and economic activities were concentrated in village centers, which in some cases, evolved into small downtown areas clustered around thriving factories and mills. It was a stable and for the most part, prosperous arrangement.

With the decline of New England’s textile industry along with rising energy and labor costs in the 1960s and 1970s, New England’s position as a major manufacturing and industrial center was undercut. By the end of the twentieth century, New England’s once bustling downtowns were deteriorating.


New Hampshire's Housing Supply: Current Estimates and Trends - December 2016 pdf file

This document shows residential building permits issued by municipalities through 2015.


White Deaths Exceed Births in One-Third of U.S. States, including New hampshire

In 2014, deaths among non-Hispanic whites exceeded births in more states than at any time in U.S. history. Seventeen states, home to 121 million residents or roughly 38 percent of the U.S. population, had more deaths than births among non-Hispanic whites (hereafter referred to as whites) in 2014, compared to just four in 2004. When births fail to keep pace with deaths, a region is said to have a "natural decrease" in population, which can only be offset by migration gains. In twelve of the seventeen states with white natural decreases, the white population diminished overall between 2013 and 2014.


NH Coastal Hazards Commission Issues Findings on Risks from Storm Surge and Sea Level Rise and Recommends Action to Prepare Now

After three years of dedicated research, deliberation, and public input, the New Hampshire Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission released its final report today, entitled Preparing New Hampshire for Projected Storm Surge, Sea-Level Rise, and Extreme Precipitation. This report presents the best available science, identifies assets vulnerable to coastal flooding, and lays out 35 recommendations and associated actions for municipalities, state agencies, and state legislators to use as planning guidance.


Conserving Nature in a Changing Climate: A Three-part Guide for Land Trusts in the Northeast

New Guide Harnesses Climate Data for Climate-Resilience Planning in the Northeast

The Open Space Institute, the Land Trust Alliance and the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative have unveiled a new, multi-faceted resource encouraging land trusts and their supporters, including local governments, to pursue land protection as a critical strategy in the face of a changing climate.


ZBA Handbook Updated

The Board of Adjustment in New Hampshire - A Handbook for Local Officials has been updated with changes through the 2016 legislative session.


Governor Hassan Announces New Hampshire Fuel Assistance Program to Open November 14

Governor Hassan announced today that the New Hampshire Fuel Assistance Program (FAP), which helps vulnerable Granite State families with their heating bills, will open this year on November 14.

Also known as LIHEAP or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, FAP provides assistance to New Hampshire families and seniors whose annual household income is at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For a family of four this year, that means an annual maximum income of $48,600. The average FAP benefit for eligible families this winter, based on the federal grant award, is expected to be approximately $645.


Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Grants Available

This program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Businesses interested in installing energy efficiency upgrades or renewable energy generating technology to increase their bottom line and reduce their environmental footprint can apply for USDA Rural Development second wave grant funding. Applications will be accepted until March 31, 2017.


Geothermal and other federal residential rebates scheduled to end with 2016

Rebates available for up to 30% of qualified costs associated with installing residential renewable energy systems like fuel cells and geothermal heating (solar is covered by a different program), are scheduled to expire at the end of 2016.


Heating Bills forecasted for be higher than 2015-16, but comparable to recent winters pdf file

A summary of the Energy Information Administration's Winter Fuels Outlook outlines predictions for cooler temperatures and increases in spending on heating this winter season.


How Do Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons Work?

Also known as the High intensity Activated crossWalK (or HAWK), they are pedestrian-activated warning devices on the roadside or on mast arms over pedestrian crossings. The beacon head consists of two red lenses above a single yellow lens. After displaying brief flashing and steady yellow intervals, the device displays a steady red indication to drivers and a "WALK" indication to pedestrians, allowing them to cross a major roadway while traffic is stopped. The hybrid beacon displays alternating flashing red lights to drivers while pedestrians finish their crossings before once again going dark at the conclusion of the cycle.


Drought Conditions are Worsening: NHDES Urges the Public to Look for Ways to Conserve Water, to Report Water Shortages and Economic Impacts

On October 20, 2016, the NH Drought Management Team (DMT) coordinated by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), met to discuss current drought conditions. Mary Stampone, NH State Climatologist, provided some good and bad news. In accordance with the National Drought Monitor, drought conditions are worsening in areas and spreading. Currently approximately 20% of the state is experiencing abnormally dry conditions and 80% of the state is experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions. The current U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook indicates little improvement in the southern portion of the state, but potential for improvement in the north by the end of January.


Smart Growth Technical Assistance Programs

The EPA is offering several technical assistance programs to help communities learn about and implement smart growth approaches.


October is National Community Planning Month

The achievements of planning are celebrated in October with National Community Planning Month. The 2016 theme is Civic Engagement. This year's theme underscores the necessity of engaging the public, elected officials, and key leaders in discussions that shape the future of our cities. Thoughtful local planning cannot happen without meaningful civic engagement.


New NH DES Video Talks about What Climate Change Means for New Hampshire video file

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has recently released a video overview of the impacts climate change is currently having in the state as well as projections for the future.


The New Law on Accessory Dwelling Units pdf file

The New Hampshire Municipal Association has produced a four page handout meant to provide a basic "Do's and Don'ts" for the new laws governing Accessory Dwelling Units, Chapter 674, Sections 71-73. The last page contains proposed language for a simple zoning amendment that would allow an ADU by right under a local zoning ordinance.


2016 Population Projections

Reports presenting state, county and municipal level population projections by age and sex up to 2040 are now available.


Zoning Amendment Calendars

2016-2017 zoning amendment calendars for traditional and official ballot ("SB2") towns with March and May town meetings are now available.


Firewood, wood pellet supplies are strong, prices slightly lower

Thanks in part to last year’s warm winter, people who heat their homes with wood should have no trouble buying fuel this season, unlike the scrambles of 2014, and may pay slightly less than last year.


Monthly U.S. renewable electricity generation in 2016 surpasses previous years

Renewable electricity generation has surpassed levels from previous years in every month so far this year, based on data through June. Both hydroelectric and nonhydroelectric renewables have contributed to this trend, but in different ways. After a lengthy West Coast drought, hydro generation has increased and is now closer to historical levels. Nonhydro renewable generation continues to increase year-over-year and has exceeded hydro generation in each month since February 2016.


Franklin, NH: Going Strong, One Year after a Citizens' Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) Community Workshop

On a recent overcast spring day in Franklin, New Hampshire, Concord Monitor journalist Elodie Reed visited retired teacher and new business owner George Mansfield as he sat outside his bookstore. Mansfield recently closed his bookstore in Tilton, NH and opted to set up shop in Franklin instead. Surveying Central Street, he said, "I think it’s starting on an upward trend, downtown here especially."


Energy plan would reduce use, reward conservation

In the hope of lowering New Hampshire energy costs, the Public Utilities Commission has approved a three-year plan pdf fileto reduce electricity and natural gas consumption.


Rule Your Attic 2016 is Coming!

Did you know ninety percent of homes in the US are under insulated? August brings that cool morning breeze reminding us summer only lasts so long. Get ahead of heating bills this winter by making sure your home is sealed up tight! pdf file


Power grid hums along during heat wave thanks to upgrades pdf file

Despite record-setting temperatures and unprecedented demand for electricity across much of the United States in recent weeks, the nation's power grid has been able to deliver electricity when called on without any major problems.


Massachusetts Moves on Off-shore Wind and Hydropower

The 2016 Energy Diversity Act effectively opens the door to a new multimillion-dollar energy industry off the New England coast. Additionally, the law will require utilities to purchase up to 1,200 MW of hydroelectricity, much of it from Canada along new transmission lines, and stimulates the development of other clean energy resources like onshore wind and solar power


Where the Old Will Soon Outnumber the Young

Florida and Maine lead nation's aging trend in historic shift

Two states – Maine and Florida – will likely end the year with more elderly residents than children, a ratio that’s unprecedented in U.S. history but one that’s coming soon to several more states. By 2020, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania could approach the mark.


New Research Presents New England Specific Climate Change Impacts

For several years there has been a stated need for projections of future climate change at the local level across New England for local and regional decision makers. Climate Solutions New England (CSNE) has built upon the original analysis presented in the 2014 report titled “Climate Change in Southern New Hampshire: Past, Present and Future” to provide a detailed analysis of past (1895-2012) and potential future (out to 2099) climate change for ten regions across New England.


New Hampshire Boosts Incentives for Wood Pellet Furnaces and Boilers

Going forward the state will cover 40 percent of the costs of wood-pellet furnaces or boilers, up to $10,000 for residential use or $65,000 for commercial or industrial use.


2015 Population Estimates

The 2015 population estimates of NH cities and towns are now available. The total estimated population of New Hampshire (including unincorporated areas) is 1,330,608.


Solar 101 Workshop Series

Lakes Region Community College has finished its successful Solar 101 workshop series, and PDF versions of the NH Residential Solar 101 and Solar 101 for NH Municipal Officials presentations are available.


Fossil Fuels Still Dominate US Energy Consumption- But Market is Declining

Three fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—have provided more than 80% of total U.S. energy consumption for more than 100 years. In 2015, fossil fuels made up 81.5% of total U.S. energy consumption, the lowest fossil fuel share in the past century.


Planning for a Healthier Future

Cities and regions around the country face important choices about how to use limited resources to promote healthy communities and provide a great quality of life for all of their residents. Planning for a Healthier Future, a new resource released by T4America, helps metro areas find ways to use performance measures to improve public health, address social equity concerns, and advance environmental quality.


Governor Hassan Announces New Director of the Governor's Office of Energy and Planning

Continuing her efforts to build a more affordable and more innovative energy future that helps spur economic development, create jobs and protect the environment, Governor Maggie Hassan announced today that Amanda Merrill of Durham will serve as the new Director of the Governor's Office of Energy and Planning.


Federal Energy Outlook ups Renewable Capacity Predictions

Projections for renewable electricity capacity in the U.S. Energy Information Administration's most recent Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) are significantly higher than the projections in AEO2015. The December 2015 enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, which extended certain tax credits for renewable generation technologies, and the August 2015 promulgation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's final Clean Power Plan (CPP) are policies that have a significant effect on projected renewables deployment. Reductions in technology costs and some changes in state policies on renewables also affect the new AEO projections.


Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Round Opens June 1st

New Hampshire communities interested in improving pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure can submit letters of intention for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) between June 1 and July 1, 2016. This is the first step in a competitive process for more than $5 million in federal funds that will be used to reimburse up to 80 percent of the costs for such projects. TAP combines a number of individual federal programs into a single, more flexible program. These include Transportation Enhancement (TE), Safe Routes to School (SRTS), and Scenic Byways. New Hampshire's annual allocation for TAP is approximately $3.2M ($2.6M Federal). Two years of funding will be awarded in this round.

The overall purpose of TAP is to foster non-motorized transportation infrastructure that is safe, in good physical condition, accessible, and capable of reducing traffic congestion. TAP awards will range from a minimum of $400,000 ($320,000 Federal) to a maximum of $1,000,000 ($800,000 Federal) supporting projects, although communities can use local or other funding sources for more expensive projects.


Southern States Lead Growth in Biomass Electricity

EIA reports that over the past five years, U.S. electricity generation from biomass across all sectors grew from 56 gigawatthours (GWh) in 2010 to 64 GWh in 2015. Much of this growth occurred in southern states such as Virginia, Florida, and Georgia. In 2015, electricity generation from biomass across all sectors accounted for 11.3% of renewable electricity generation and 1.6% of total electricity generation in the United States...


New Study Examines Progress toward SunShot Initiative Goals, Identifies Emerging Solar Energy R&D Opportunities for 2020 and Beyond

WASHINGTON – On May 18, 2016, the US Department of Energy released the On the Path to SunShot reports, a series of eight research papers examining the state of the U.S. solar energy industry and the progress made to date toward the SunShot Initiative’s goal to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by 2020. The solar industry is currently about 70 percent of the way towards achieving the Initiative’s 2020 goals, but as solar has become more affordable, helping the industry grow by an astonishing 23-fold since the beginning of the Obama Administration, new challenges and opportunities have emerged.


Meredith Hatfield leaving as head of the Governor’s Office of Energy and Planning

Meredith Hatfield is leaving as head of the Governor’s Office of Energy and Planning at the start of June to take a job in Boston.

Hatfield, a Concord resident and lawyer, was appointed director of the office in 2013 by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. The office oversees the state’s 10-year energy strategy, administers fuel-assistance programs and monitors conservation easements in New Hampshire.


Governor Hassan Highlights State Employee Energy Efficiency Efforts

In order to highlight state government’s efforts to improve energy efficiency, Governor Maggie Hassan presented the Governor’s Excellence in Energy Efficiency Awards at the State’s annual energy conference last week hosted by the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services, Department of Environmental Services and the Office of Energy & Planning.


Governor Hassan Issues Executive Order Setting New Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Renewable Energy Goals for State Government

In order to combat climate change and save taxpayer dollars, Governor Maggie Hassan today issued an Executive Order setting new, aggressive goals for state government on energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy.

"As a state, we remain focused on diversifying our energy supply mix and investing in energy efficiency and conservation – the cleanest and cheapest approach to reducing our energy bills. But we must continue to innovate and move our clean energy economy forward,” Governor Hassan said. “This Executive Order sets new ambitious goals on energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy, which will help us combat climate change and save taxpayer dollars."


Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge

The Aetna Foundation, American Public Health Association and National Association of Counties, in partnership with CEOs for Cities, announce the start of a multiyear program to encourage small to mid-sized cities, counties and federally recognized tribes to create healthier and more equitable communities. The Challenge recognizes health is much more than just health care. Therefore, to participate in the Challenge, communities must build strong cross-sector teams around public health issues of critical importance to their communities with a focus on social determinants and addressing health equity. Efforts should be focused on an array of critical metrics such as tobacco use, walkability, housing affordability, living wages and community safety. The initiative offers $1.5 million in prize money to communities that demonstrate the most measurable and impactful changes.

Applications are due May 31, 2016, by 5:00pm.


Planning Board Handbook updated

The Planning Board in New Hampshire - A Handbook for Local Officials has been updated with changes through the 2015 legislative session.


Climate and Health Adaptation Plan for the Public Health Network of the Upper Valley

In coordination with the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley, the UVLSRPC recently completed New Hampshire's first regional Climate and Health Adaptation Plan. The plan details the public health vulnerabilities that our region is likely to face as a result of future severe weather events. While the plan details nine different public health vulnerabilities, one rose to the top as an immediate concern within our region: The effects of extreme heat on senior citizens (65+ years old).

By 2040, more than one-third of the region's population is expected to be over 65 years old. Similarly, by 2040, the number of days over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in our region is expected to double. Given these projections, the plan lays out a process for enhancing personal and community resilience, strengthening regional partnerships, and improving the tracking of climate-related health issues.

This is not a plan that will sit on a shelf. Through a strong partnership with the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley, the Upper Valley Adaptation Work Group, and the NH Department of Health and Human Services, we are already identifying solutions to be implemented.


LRCC Solar PV 101 Workshops Survey

Lakes Region Community College is preparing two free Solar PV 101 workshops, one for residential property owners, and the other for municipal officials. Both of these vendor-neutral workshops focus on grid-tied, residential solar PV systems, and will be presented in three locations around New Hampshire in Spring 2016. Your responses to the survey will help improve the content and distribution of these workshops. This short survey should take 6 minutes or less to complete. If you haven’t already taken the survey, please use the link above. This is a generic link, and although not required we would appreciate you including your name as part of the survey.

Please finish the survey by Friday, March 4, 2016. For more information about the NH Solar 101 project please contact Andy Duncan at LRCC,


ZBA Handbook Updated

The Zoning Board of Adjustment in New Hampshire - A Handbook for Local Officials has been updated with changes through the 2015 legislative session.


New Hampshire Economic Review 2015

The NH Department of Resources and Economic Development has released their 2015 Economic Review. This document includes an overview of DRED's Strategic Plan, a FY2015 Annual Report, and a variety of statistics and information which offers readers a picture of economic development in the state.


New Hampshire Municipal Technical Assistance Grant Program pdf file

The New Hampshire Municipal Technical Assistance Grant Program (MTAG) provides competitive grants for cities and towns who wish to increase options for places to live for households with changing and/or diverse needs and income levels. The MTAG is administered by Plan NH, in partnership with New Hampshire Housing, who has provided $50,000 to Plan NH to fund this first year of the program.

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NH Office of Strategic Initiatives
Governor Hugh J. Gallen State Office Park
Johnson Hall, 3rd Floor  |  107 Pleasant Street  |  Concord, NH 03301
(603) 271-2155  |  fax: (603) 271-2615