Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
The TCCPI Newsletter

January-February 2013

In This Issue
Featured Article
Southeast Tompkins County Residents Form Solar Consortium
Hundreds of Local Citizens Join Historic Climate Rally in DC
March is Gardening and Local Food Month
One Last Thing
Quick Links

Our Supporters
Featured Article
Wind in Spain Outpaces Other Electricity Sources




Welcome to the January-February 2013 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an electronic update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).
Winter on Arden Rd.
Photo Credit: Wrexie Bardaglio

TCCPI is a multisector collaboration seeking to leverage the climate action commitments made by Cornell University, Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, Tompkins County, the City of Ithaca, and the Town of Ithaca to mobilize a countywide energy efficiency effort and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. Launched in June 2008 and generously supported by the Park Foundation, TCCPI is a project of Second Nature, the lead supporting organization of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).


We are committed to helping Tompkins County achieve a dynamic economy, healthy environment, and resilient community through a focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. 

Southeast Tompkins County Residents Form Solar Consortium

 By Eric Banford, Ithaca Times 2/11/12


Residents from the towns of Caroline,Danby and Dryden are joining forces to streamline the process of purchasing and installing photovoltaic and thermal solar-energy systems, hoping to bring the cost down and increase installations. The goal of the group, "Solarize Tompkins SE" (for southeast), is to bring at least 30 new installations to their towns during 2013.


"When I was first reading about the birth of the solar-power movement in the U.S., my interest was immediately there," says Marie McRae, a Dryden resident who is participating in the new initiative. "I've always thought it was the right way to go. The energy from the sun is there all the time; it's pretty simple," she notes with a laugh.

McRae recalls attending author Greg Pahl's lecture at Ithaca College on community-owned

Residential Solar in Tompkins
Residential solar is becoming increasingly competitive with grid electricity. Photo credit: Upstate Energy Solutions.

energy and being impressed when Jan Myers talked about the "Solarize Madison" project she helped to launch. "A bunch of us mobbed her after the lecture to find out how she did it. Conversations took place with Sharon Anderson and Guillermo Metz of Cooperative Extension, and then Energy Independent Caroline (EID) picked up the ball to try putting it into practice," McRae says.

"I think this project will be able to reach people who have been thinking about this but had no idea about how to get into it," observes McRae. "The Solarize project gives them a way to step right up and get involved. We hope to take the guesswork out of the process: here are qualified installers and here are their prices. We will also do some of the legwork for the installers by doing outreach and education. In saving them time and money, plus giving them a bulk-purchase opportunity, we can bring the price point down."

Solarize Tompkins SE will soon put out a request for proposals (RFP) to qualified solar contractors. Once the RFP is done, a "bidders' conference" will be held so contractors can ask questions. After submitted proposals are thoroughly reviewed, one or more contractors will be chosen to do the installations.

Educational sessions will be presented in each town so interested residents can learn about the purchasing and installation process, state and federal incentives that are available, and meet the contractors and ask questions. This program is open to homeowners, farmers, business owners, municipalities and institutions.

In addition to saving via bulk purchasing, state and federal incentives help bring the cost down. Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, there is a 30 percent federal tax credit for residents installing small wind, geothermal, and photovoltaic systems, with no cap through 2016. New York State adds another 25 percent to that, up to $5,000. Incentives vary for businesses.

"Energy Independent Caroline came together around the vision of our community being independent from fossil fuels," says Dominic Frongillo, deputy town supervisor of Caroline and member of the TCCPI Steering Committee. "The first thing we looked at was a community-scale wind turbine, then micro-hydro on Six Mile Creek, which weren't viable. Most recently we've promoted homes getting energy audits. The next step after tightening up your home would be renewable energy," he points out.

According to Frongillo, the Solarize project can help in a few specific ways. "First, we hope to reduce the financial barrier by bringing lots of homeowners together and getting a reduced cost. Second is to reduce the headache involved with the paperwork and selecting a contractor. This is a win-win for everybody, and a great economic opportunity. The money people save can be circulated in the local economy instead of going to NYSEG or out of the country," he explains.

"We hope this will bring people together around not just a vision," says Frongillo, "but action towards making our community a leader in clean energy for the future. I'm excited because this will bring relatively low- cost renewable energy directly to households in Danby, Dryden and Caroline." 

Solarize Tompkins SE is now collecting site and contact information from anyone interested in learning more and having their home or business evaluated. You can take a no-obligation "interest survey" on the website: www.solarizetompkinsse. org.

For more information, contact Guillermo Metz, Green Building & Renewable Energy Program Coordinator, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, at[email protected] or 272-2292.

Next TCCPI Meeting:

Friday, March 29, 2013

9 to 11 am

Borg Warner Room

Tompkins County Public Library
101 East Green Street

Ithaca, NY 14850

Hundreds of Local Citizens Join Historic Climate Rally in DC

Thousands of people from across the U.S. marched past the White House on Sunday, February 17, calling on President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline and hydrofracking, and take other steps to fight climate change.

Organizers, including the Sierra Club,, and the Hip Hop Caucus estimated that more than 40,000 people from 30-plus states endured frigid temperatures to join the "Forward on Climate" rally. Their immediate target is Obama's final decision, expected soon on the

DC CLimate Rally
New Yorkers gathered before the historic climate rally.
Photo credit: Laura Schwartz.
Keystone XL oil pipeline that would carry tar sands from Canada through several U.S. states.
Local residents and college students traveled from Ithaca on six chartered buses to the rally. GreenStar Natural Foods Market, Shaleshock, and other concerned community members contributed funds to provide scholarship tickets and ticket discounts for students, low income, and senior participants. Students from Cornell Univeristy, Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and SUNY Cortland shared two of the buses.
As protesters gathered on the National Mall, they heard from leaders in the climate movement, including Van Jones, Bill McKibben, Michael Brune, and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, urge the Obama administration to "stand up" and "get on the right side of history."
"This movement's been building a long time, said Bill McKibben, founder of the environmental group, said. "One of the things that's built it is everybody's desire to give the president the support he needs to block this Keystone pipeline." McKibben called the 1,000 mile pipeline "one of the largest carbon bombs in history," noting that it could push global warming past the tipping point.
The crowd made their voices heard as well. Protestors held placards saying, "Read my lips: no new carbons," and "We're in a climate hole: stop digging." Another, referring to a controversial method for extracting natural gas, implored: "Don't be frackin' crazy."
Opposition to the construction of the proposed Keystone pipeline led the Sierra Club to lift a long-standing ban on civil disobedience. The club's executive director, Michael Brune, was arrested at a Wednesday protest, along with longtime civil rights leader Julian Bond, actress Darryl Hannah, and Bill McKibben.
Except for 1998, the Earth's nine warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, according to two reports issued in January, one by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the other by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Last year was declared the warmest on record for the lower 48 states. 
--Press Wire Reports




Take a step to save money and energy.



March is Gardening and Local Food Month with GYGB!
By Karim Beers, Campaign Coordinator for Get Your GreenBack Tompkins
Get Your GreensBack Tompkins! Spring into gardening and local food in March and help bring jobs, delicious flavors, and healthy living to those around you.

The average American has a Carbon foodprint of some 12,000 pounds. Much of that is from 
Early Spring at West Haven Farm
West Haven Farm is one of many local organic farms in the area getting ready for spring. Photo credit: West Haven Farm.
the way we produce food, how we store and prepare it, and how we travel around to get it. Localizing our food production helps shrink our foodprint and makes our community more self-reliant. And you can't beat the flavor!

Grow it!
  • Like cabbage and broccoli? Now is the time to get your seeds started. Check out this fact sheet to find out what to plant when, or call the Growline at 272-2292.
  • Buy local seeds and starts -- you get higher quality plants started at the right time. Here's a list of local plant growers.
  • Visit the Annual Ithaca Plant Sale. Mark your Calendar for Saturday, May 18, 9-2 at Ithaca High School. This is the largest plant sale in upstate NY!
  • For inspiration, take a class or workshops at Cooperative Extension: "Spring into gardening", a full day workshop for gardeners, April 6; Fruits for the Home Gardener; Grow Your Own Spuds, and more
  • Become a full-fledged farmer with Groundswell, our local farming training center..
Buy it!
Eat it!
One Last Thing

The record attendance at the rally in Washington, D.C. on February 17 highlighted the growing movement in the U.S. among ordinary citizens who sense that the point of no return for runaway climate change is fast approaching. 

Coming on the heels of President Obama's State of the Union address, in which he challenged Congress to deal with the issue of climate change, the outpouring of people at the rally was good news indeed. As the president put it, "For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change."

Perhaps anticipating the demands of the thousands who would flock to Washington a few days later, President Obama struck an unusually combative tone in his annual address. If Congress refused to act, the president warned. then he would exercise his executive authority "to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy." 
It remains to be seen, of course, whether Obama will remain true to his word. But all signs 
The Mississippi River dropped to record lows last summer. Photo credit: AP/Stephen Lance Dennee.
indicate that he better do so, for our sake. Just one recent example: r
eports of a thin snowpack in the western mountains suggest that the High Plains, West, and Southwest are likely to experience a third summer of withering drought.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) latest three-month drought
projections, which the agency released February 21, promises little relief. Forecasters predict that drought will continue in the Rocky Mountain and Plains states, expand throughout northern and southern California and return to most of Texas, which has suffered a severe drought since 2011. 
According to USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service National Water and Climate Center, the February streamflow forecast predicts a decline in nearly every state and basin in the West. The winter snow season still has two months left, but "if the remaining season turns out dry, water supply conditions could end up in the 50 to 70 percent of average range."
Those dry conditions and poor snowpack have also increased the risk that the Mississippi River could drop to levels later this year equal to or worse than last fall's record dip, once again seriously disrupting barge traffic on the nation's busiest waterway. According to Time, if conditions do not improve soon, "the stoppage could last for months."

We are fortunate, thanks to the abundance of water in the Finger Lakes region, not to have this kind of severe drought looming on the horizon. But we will not be unaffected by developments west of the Mississippi. One wonders what kind of national economic disaster it will take to finally force Congress to act on climate change, but perhaps the shutdown of a river that sees $180 billion of goods travel along it each year will do the trick.
Peter Bardaglio
TCCPI Coordinator
Upgrade Upstate

Visit to get a no-cost or reduced-cost energy assessment. Learn which rebates, tax credits, and loans you qualify for to help pay for work. Check out how-to videos for low-cost/no-cost improvements and testimonial videos of Tompkins County residents who have made upgrades. Upgrade Upstate is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County.