Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
The TCCPI Newsletter


July-August 2015

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Welcome to the July-August 2015 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an electronic update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).
Photo by trpnblies7 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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. 

Public Service Commission Approves Shared Renewables Initiative

The New York Public Service Commission approved on July 17th a Shared Renewables Initiative that will create opportunities for renters, homeowners, low-income residents, schools and businesses to join together to set up shared renewable energy projects resulting in healthier and stronger communities.

Under the Shared Renewables initiative, customers can join together to share in the benefits of local solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects. Each individual member's production would appear as a credit on their monthly utility bill. The first phase of Shared Renewables will focus on promoting low-income customer participation and installations in areas of the power grid that can benefit most from local power production. 
This graphic from Vote Solar illustrates the basic principle of shared solar.

"Shared Renewables places customers who do not own homes on an equal footing with traditional single-home customers and creates opportunities for low- and moderate-income families who don't have access to electricity generated from renewable resources," said Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman.

Governor Cuomo noted that, although renewable energy resources have expanded dramatically in the past several years, many New Yorkers are still unable to participate because they rent their home, live in an apartment building, or own properties unsuitable for installing solar panels or other clean energy technologies. "The Shared Renewables initiative will help people and communities across the state save money on local clean energy projects," he said. "This program is about protecting the environment and ensuring that all New Yorkers, regardless of their zip code or income, have the opportunity to access clean and affordable power." 

"Democratizing the production of power allows individuals and communities to take control of their energy future and realize the economic, social, and environmental benefits of solar and other renewable resources," said Richard Kauffman, Chair of Energy and Finance for New York, asserting that "New York State is once again at the forefront of progressive energy policy by empowering millions of our residents, schools, and businesses to choose renewable power for the first time."

Customers interested in the Shared Renewables initiative can participate in a number of ways. For example, the residents of a condominium may want to join together for a shared solar project. They would need to find a "sponsor" who will be responsible for organizing the project on behalf of the residents. A sponsor could be a developer or even the residents of the building banding together to form a legal entity such as a limited liability corporation, or LLC.

To learn more about how you can participate in shared renewables as a customer, community, or project sponsor, please visit  http://www.ny-sun.ny.gov/Community-Solar and sign up to receive assistance and resources to help you take advantage of local clean energy projects.
TCAD Task Force on Energy and Economic Development Underway
by Peter Bardaglio, TCCPI Coordinator

The Tompkins County Energy and Economic Development Task Force, announced in early June, has been meeting this summer to explore how the county can achieve both near-term economic development and climate protection goals.
Charlie Trautmann, executive director of the Sciencenter, heads up the new TCAD task force. Photo courtesy of the Sciencenter.
Formation of the task force stems from a commitment that County Planning Commissioner Ed Marx and Tompkins County Area Development President Michael Stamm made last year to collaborate on addressing energy needs and greenhouse gas emissions targets in ways that contribute to a vital local economy.

The 15-member task force, chaired by Sciencenter Executive Director Charlie Trautman, includes a mix of individuals with expertise in fields including renewable and traditional energy resources, business operation, and real estate development, as well as several elected officials. Stamm and Marx serve as non-voting members of the task force.

The Tompkins County 2015 budget includes $20,000 for the planning department and TCAD to help businesses evaluate energy efficiency and renewable energy options.

The Task Force, which has held two meetings so far, will work over the next few months to understand the following issues:
  • rapidly changing energy policy, regulatory, and market forces
  • the current and projected supply and demand for energy
  • how decisions are made regarding which mechanical/electrical systems to install
  • the technical and economic feasibility of current sustainable, renewable energy systems. 
Drawing on the knowledge and insights of subject matter experts and public input, the task force will make recommendations regarding how economic growth can best be sustained over the next five years, while ensuring that the community meets the county's climate goals.

The group's draft report and other deliverables are due January 29, about the same time as the scheduled completion of the Planning Department's Energy Roadmap, which will support an update of the County's 2020 Energy Strategy during 2016.

Next TCCPI Meeting:

Friday, August 28, 2015

9 to 11 am

Borg Warner Room

Tompkins County Public Library
101 East Green Street

Ithaca, NY 14850

 Eating Healthy, Fresh, and Local: Get Started Now!
By Karim Beers, Get Your GreenBack Campaign Coordinator

From CSAs to Farmer's Markets to growing your own, there are so many ways to eat healthy, fresh, fair food without breaking the bank. Although transitioning from supermarket food to fresh, local food may seem daunting, there are many community opportunities to help even the most inexperienced of consumers become growing gurus.

Summer vegetables and flowers at the Ithaca Farmers Market. Photo by NekaPearl is licensed under CC By-NC 2.0.
With a CSA cooking class, you can learn how to cook certain vegetables and cut down on food waste. Check out new farmer's markets and support local farmers or set up your own stand. Learn how to grow your own fruit or volunteer at a variety of community farms. Or, simply pick your own food, with U-pick strawberry farms. The possibilities are endless, and they all start with you.

How to Support Local Food Vendors
Tuesdays: Ithaca Market at Dewitt Park - 9 am to 2 pm
Wednesdays: Ithaca Market at East Hill Plaza - next to Rite Aid on Pine Tree Rd. 4 to 7 pm
Thursdays: Ithaca Market at Hancock St. (Neighborhood Pride store lot) - 4 to 7 pm
Fridays: Triphammer Mall Market held in conjunction with the Fish Truck - 9 am to Noon
Congo Square Market - Southside Community Center on Plain St. - 5 to 8 pm (mostly prepared food)
Saturday/Sunday: Main Ithaca Market at Steamboat Landing on the waterfront

Community Markets
Trumansburg on Wednesday, 4 to7 pm at the Park opposite the post office on Rt. 96/227
Caroline on Saturday, 10 am to 2 pm at the Brooktondale Community Center
Dryden on Saturday, 9 am to Noon at Dryden Agway

For more information on where to buy local, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County - 607-272-2292 or email [email protected]

GUIDE TO LOCAL FOODS: The "2015 Guide to Foods Produced in the Southern Tier & Finger Lakes," which includes Tompkins, Tioga, Chemung, Cortland and Schuyler Counties, can be found online at ccetompkins.org/localfoods. Print copies are available free of charge during business hours at CCE-Tompkins, 615 Willow Avenue in Ithaca.


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Visit getyourgreenbacktompkins.org

  

 

One Last Thing: Drilling in the Arctic vs. the Clean Power Plan

Cognitive dissonance seems to be running rampant in politics these days, achieving near epidemic levels. Chris Christie accusing Donald Trump of not having the "temperament" to be president of the U.S? Governor Bridgegate? Germany attacking Greece for seeking debt forgiveness -- remember World War II, anyone? The Republican party calling for the repeal of the Fourteenth Amendment? Huh? Wasn't that the heart of the Republican plan for Reconstruction in 1868?

The Obama administration topped all of these, however, when it  gave final approval to Shell on August 17 to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean just days after the president announced tough new environmental regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the nation's power plants.

Activists who oppose Royal Dutch Shell's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean prepare their kayaks for the "Paddle in Seattle" protest Photo by Daniella Beccaria is licensed under CC By 2.0.
It was a head-snapping WTF moment for anyone paying the slightest attention. The strongest action ever taken in the country's history to combat climate change, and then before you know it, the White House puts out the word that it's okay for Shell to "drill, baby, drill." 

What to make of this? What happened to the President's seeming determination to leave the White House with a legacy of climate change progress? 

The Clean Power Plan, which will limit the amount of carbon dioxide pollution power plants can generate, is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from these facilities 32 percent by 2030. 
If the plan withstands the expected legal challenges, it will set in motion dramatic policy changes that will close hundreds of coal-fired power plants, halt construction of new coal plants, and generate an unprecedented boom in the production of renewable energy.

On the other hand, the approval of Shell's plan breaths new life into the company's 25-year bid to open up an area of the Arctic for oil exploration. Shell will be allowed to drill 8,000 feet below the ocean floor, 70 miles off the Alaskan coast.

Facing sharp questioning from the press, a senior official at the State Department was forced to acknowledge that there was an "obvious tension" between the U.S. commitment to combat climate change and its approval of Shell's oil drilling in the Arctic. But, in the end, the official offered no explanation beyond the usual "we must be doing something right if both sides are mad at us."

Not to be outdone by Christie, Germany, the Republican party, or Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton jumped into the fray, offering her own special brand of cognitive dissonance. Although Clinton has refused to take a position on the Keystone XL pipeline, that did not stop her from criticizing the decision to greenlight the Shell project. "The Arctic is a unique treasure,"she tweeted in response to news of the White House approval. "Given what we know, it's not worth the risk of drilling."

As welcome as Clinton's opposition to drilling in the Arctic is, it can only leave one wondering about TransCanada's plan to build a pipeline to transport toxic tar sands through North America's largest source of underground fresh water, the Ogallala Acquifer. Is that worth the risk to this unique treasure?

Stay tuned. And don't forget to take something to ease that pounding in your head. 2015 is shaping up to be the year cognitive dissonance becomes a dominant feature of the modern landscape. Oy vey.

Peter Bardaglio
TCCPI Coordinator
Upgrade Upstate

Visit upgradeupstate.org 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.