Agronomist Stephen Canner examines switchgrass planting

Agronomist Stephen Canner examines switchgrass planting
stand of switchgrass in Madrid,NY

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Energy Efficiency an "Essential Component" of Economic Development Says New Study

Consultants Oppenheim and MacGregor are doing and Energy Efficiency analysis of the seven counties of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council  on behalf of the Energy Task Force, part the North Country Symposium.  The Task Force  believes that such a study would be an important contribution to the Region’s emerging clean energy economy.   Funding for the study was made possible by a grant from the Wyomissing Foundation of Pennsylvania.

The study, entitled “Energy Efficiency and Economic Development in the North Country, New York” breaks new ground for the Region by clearly showing the economic development benefits of energy efficiency.  According to the abstract, “energy efficiency’s economic development value includes a high volume of jobs with mid-level skills paying reasonable wages. Input-output analysis also reflects the degree to which an industry’s dollars are recycled within the region, rather than exported, further increasing local benefits.  EE (Energy Efficiency) is characterized by relatively large local investment, especially in labor…”  The abstract also notes that “As part of a process of developing an economic development strategy, we show that increased investment in energy efficiency (EE) would be an essential component”…

The full study, with data and accompanying narrative, will be available later this spring.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Governor Cuomo Announces Communities Unite For Discounted Solar Installation

Governor Cuomo has announced the kickoff of what is known as the "Solarize" campaign with twenty-six communities participating statewide. Residents and businesses in the participating communities will receive an additional discount on top of  existing federal, state, and NYSERDA credits.  In the North Country, the Village of Canton, Town of Franklin, and Akwesasne are all having Solarize campaigns.  The Governor's press release is at:

Monday, April 6, 2015

St. Lawrence County White Paper on Weatherization Identifies Significant Energy-related Issues.

Editor's Note: David Smith, a Potsdam native and senior at St. Lawrence University, served as an intern at the St. Lawrence County Planning Office last summer. The white paper he describes below was written during his internship.

Title: Energy and money saving potential: Energy efficiency in low-income housing in St. Lawrence County, NY

St. Lawrence County is one of the most impoverished counties in the State of New York and also experiences more heating-degree days than most of the state.  Simultaneously, federal and state funded programs are consolidating and energy prices are rising and increasing the stress on low-income residents.  During the summer of 2014 I worked as an intern at the St. Lawrence County Planning Office to conduct an analysis on energy efficiency programs run at the federal and state levels for low-income eligible households.  Currently, one of the most effective programs is the Weatherization Assistance Program (also known as WAP) sees an average energy reduction of 34% per household, or roughly a 4.08 year return on investment.  This analysis can also be a tool to encourage weatherization and energy efficiency upgrading in households that are not eligible for state or federal assistance because the return on investment in an economy with volatile energy prices is very attractive.  For a copy of the report please contact the St. Lawrence County Planning Office. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Community-level Biomass Pilot Project in Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake

The Northern Forest Center is working with two North Country communities on pilot projects that would provide biomass energy to homeowners and small commercial customers. The Northern Forest Center, located in New Hampshire, which serves communities in Northern New England and Northern New York, will provide financial support for this small demonstration effort. More information available via the New York Biomass Energy Alliance:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Canton Sustainability Committee

North Country Communities that are ready to do more about local energy needs and goals may wish to follow the example of Canton, NY in St. Lawrence County. The Village of Canton is breaking new ground with its Sustainability Committee, which has been in existence nearly a year. The Canton Community Action Plan, adopted in 2010, included a provision for the creation of the committee. The committee is made up of volunteers and membership is open. Early on, the Committee created three subcommittees; Food and Agriculture, Energy, and Transportation. The Energy Committee has focused on ways Canton's facilities can use alternative energy. A second project has been applying to participate in a Solarize community effort. The latter makes residential and small commercial projects more affordable by bundling small photovoltaic projects together in one package for an additional discount. This aggregation discount is in addition to federal and NY state tax credits, and NYSERDA incentives. The sustainability committee format is flexible enough it can be adapted to the particular needs and priorities of the community. Meanwhile to our east, Vermont provides another model for local energy efforts. Many Vermont communities have created Energy Committees to address energy conservation and alternative energy needs at the local level.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Registration Now Open: North Country Clean Energy Economy Conference

The 4th North Country Clean Energy Economy Conference will be held June 11 and 12 2015 at SUNY Polytechnic in Utica, New York.   Plan on attending.  Registration is now open.  The website is:   Phone: 518-891-6200 (Adirondack North Country Association).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Edwards Knox School Continues to Lead in Alternative Energy Efforts

Edwards Knox Central School broke new ground when it was one of the first school districts in New York State to install a biomass boiler to heat its facilities. Now a few years later, the district continues to lead the way in alternative energy with administration, school board, and staff all on the same page. A recently completed bus garage addition includes in-floor heating from the biomass plant. Summer 2015 will see an expansion of the solar energy at the school's campus on County Route 27 between Edwards and Russell. 25000 kw of solar photovoltaics will offset electrical use in the bus garage, while another 50,000 kw of solar panels south of the school will partially offset electrical use in the main school building. Finally, a smaller solar thermal unit atop the school will provide hot water to heat the swimming pool in those months when the biomass unit is off line. During a recent tour by St. Lawrence County's Environmental Management Council, Facilities Manager John Daniels reported that the Hurst biomass boiler had been trouble-free and saved the district hundreds of thousands of dollars since its installation.