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Shaheen visits the Glen House’s geothermal system

GREEN’S GRANT — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) visited the just-opened Glen House hotel at Mount Washington on Route 16 last Friday to discuss the critical role of energy efficiency initiatives in combating climate change.

After touring the closed-loop geothermal heating and cooling system housed with backup propane boiler system in the basement of the three-story building, Shaheen discussed the hotel’s sustainability components with General Manager Howie Wemyss, who also has oversight over the Auto Road and Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center.

The Glen House will be as close to energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral as is currently practical, Wemyss said. Two off-site energy-generating projects designed to harness hydro and solar power will be added.

All the hydro components are already on site, but the project may not be completed until next spring rather than this fall.

“We plan to install solar photovoltaic panels after we have a solid group of real data on our electric energy need,” Weymyss said.

The 30 geothermal wells, located 25 feet apart and key to the geothermal heating and cooling system, were drilled 500 feet deep by Granite State Plumbing and Heating of Weare.

These wells are entirely out of sight under the paved parking lot, Wemyss said. He explained that he had signed up for a yearlong program on today’s energy technologies before the hotel’s planning process had gotten underway.

There are many components to the hotel’s sustainability.

Two electric vehicle-charging stations are in the parking lot, complementing the four that were already installed across the two-lane highway at the Base Lodge.

LED lights are used throughout the building that also are compliant with dark-sky lighting principles. The waste heat generated by the walk-in food-and-drink coolers is pumped down for use in the geothermal system.

The senator then met in the hotel’s conference room with Wemyss and his wife, Sue Long Wemyss, a 1984 U.S. Nordic Ski Team Olympian who directs the Great Glen Ski School, along with several stakeholders: Androscoggin District Ranger Jennifer Barnhart; Peter Middleton, owner of Martini Northern, the construction management firm that built the hotel (and is also the grandson of the AMC’s legendary hut manager Joe Dodge); and Sharon Schilling, president of the Mount Washington Observatory. Wemyss is chair of the Observatory’s board of trustees.

Shaheen recalled that she and her husband, along with many Americans, had first become deeply interested in saving energy when Jimmy Carter was president. They were able in the late 1970s to take advantage of the tax credits that became available for those building homes using approved conservation measures.

She predicted that it would be hard to reverse the general acceptance and adoption of energy conservation measures by the public, businesses and different levels of government, despite President Donald Trump’s backing away from the Paris Agreement over a year ago. Among other reasons, people now understand there is money to be saved.

Schilling pointed out that the Observatory sees a role for it to play to help the “everyday person” understand the difference between weather and climate as it continues to collect and analyze timely research data.

Shaheen said she had been shown a dramatic photograph of a sickly winter-tick-laden New Hampshire moose at one of the weekly meetings of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Many scientists blame climate change for exacerbating moose deaths because of severe infestations of these blood-sucking parasitic ticks that results in weight loss and deadly anemia, especially in the moose calf population.

“This is a case of where truly a picture was worth a thousand words,” Shaheen said.

The placing of electric vehicle charging stations in The Glen House's parking lot is in anticipation that more drivers will buy electric cars, especially as battery technology improves, providing a greater range per charge.

Wemyss noted with satisfaction that earlier that day he had noticed that a Tesla had been parked overnight in the Glen House lot.

Shaheen also had lunch in the hotel’s dining room and got a chance to enjoy the spectacular view of Mount Washington and the northern Presidential Peaks — Jefferson, Adams, and Madison — through the tall windows of the hotel’s lobby.

Backup material the senator’s staff provided pointed out that Shaheen has worked to add nearly $2.4 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, including $254 million for the EERE Weatherization Assistance Program that helps reduce energy costs for low-income families by making energy efficiency modifications to their homes.

The bill also includes $55 million for the State Energy Program, which assists states with the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.