NYSERDA Study Pushes for Solar Development


The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority completed a study which encourages New York lawmakers to invest in solar energy. The study showed that although energy consumers will most likely experience increases in their utilities bill, the potential benefits outweigh the potential rate hikes.

The NYSERDA report was released on Tuesday showing that New York’s fossil-fuel usage would decrease by 4 percent and its carbon dioxide footprint would drop by 3 percent if the state increases the amount of solar it produces up to 5,000 megawatts by 2025.

The study further concluded that the improved environmental impact would come at increased cost. The expected cost hike could be anywhere from as low as 0.1 percent to as much as 5 percent, according to the report. In dollars the increase comes to between $300 million to $9 billion by 2025.

The wide range in increased cost is a result of the uncertainty of future federal tax credits for solar power usage, as well as the look of the solar marketplace in the future. The study analyzed several different possibilities for the future to come to its conclusions.

“Nevertheless, even with this range of cost uncertainty, given the many potential benefits that (solar energy) has to offer and the long-term potential for lower-cost (solar) technology, New York state should support continued investment in the steady and measured growth and deployment of (solar energy) as part of a sound and balanced renewable energy policy,” the report reads.

Geothermal Energy in New York

Geothermal Energy Reservoir

Because New York State lacks the traditional sources of geothermal energy such as  geysers, volcanoes and hot springs, New York extracts this type of renewable energy from the earth through different means.

Since the earth absorbs about 50% of the energy that arrives here, the earth can be a great source for renewable energy. The use of geothermal pumps allows us to take advantage of the energy absorbing properties of the earth to heat indoor air during the winter, and extract heat from inside spaces during the summer.

There are three main types of geothermal systems:

  • Closed loop systems are those where fluid (usually a chemical compound) is  circulated in a closed pipe from underground to a building or complex of buildings where it releases (in the winter) or collects (in the summer) heat, and then it heads back underground.
  • Open loop systems take surface of groundwater and pump it directly from the earth. This is also used for exchanging heat, and then it is just released back onto the ground or underground.
  • Standing Column: In this system of geothermal heating groundwater is pumped up in a central pipe, used to exchange heat one time, and then discarded into the upper casing of the well from which it came.

For more information about geothermal energy in New York go to the website of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

ACEEE Report Examines Natural Gas Savings Programs

On January 5, 2012 the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy published the results of their report called “A National Review of Natural Gas Energy Efficiency Programs.” Authors Dan York, Patti Witte, Katherine Friedrich, and Marty Kushler examined the natural gas energy efficiency programs which utilities and other related organizations have had in place for as much as 30 years in some states.

These programs offer services as well as incentives to help customers make changes and investments in their energy efficiency to reduce their energy bill each month.  The growth of these types of programs throughout the country has steadily grown throughout the years.

The report takes a close look at the structure, beginnings, funding and the impact of these natural gas savings programs in forty-one states where they exist.

Decision Time for Fracking Beginning for New York’s DEC


The time for the public to submit their comments on the controversial method of extracting natural gas from underground, known as fracking, is coming to an end, ushering in the process of deciding whether or not to permit the practice in upstate New York.

Twenty Thousand Comments

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 is the date when all reasons, pro and con, to develop fracking in New York will no longer be accepted, and the process of sorting through over 20,000 comments which have been received since September will be commenced by the Department of Environmental Conservation of New York. Local communities, environmental groups and the energy industry all submitted their opinions of this highly controversial process.

Elsewhere in the United States fracking has made available supplies of natural gas which could last decades, but has also been blamed for polluting underground water sources.

“If high-volume hydraulic fracturing moves forward in New York, it will move forward with the strictest standards in the nation to ensure New York’s drinking water and other natural resources are thoroughly protected,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens in a statement.

Environmentalists Not Reassured

Reassurances such as Marten’s have not calmed the nerves of many in New York concerned with safety and the environment. Public hearings which were held throughout the state in November were filled with loud, frenzied disagreements. Especially in the small towns where the drilling will most likely take place, people voiced deep concern.

New York State sits above the Marcellus shale formation, known to be richly supplied with natural gas. But instead of just going in and retrieving the gas, New York instead placed a moratorium on the process which extracts the gas, known as fracking, until in could assess the impact of the process on the environment. Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals deep underground to extract the gas.

EPA Finds Fracking Problematic

A study conducted recently by the Environmental Protection Agency showed that the dangerous chemicals used in fracking most likely leeched out into a Wyoming aquifer. This accusation however has been vehemently denied by Encana Corp, which drills in the area. In other locations gas has escaped from poorly built wells, resulting in the contamination of drinking water.

Environmental groups are concerned that fracking could pollute water not only for residents in rural upstate New York, where the drilling will be, but for people as far away as New York City.

Energy companies are threatening to leave New York if the ban on fracking is not lifted. They insist that the process can be done safely. In addition they say that fracking will bring jobs and money into New York’s troubled economy.

“The opportunity to develop one of the world’s largest resources of clean burning natural gas is too great to be lost, or left off-limits to responsible development,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the American Petroleum Institute.

Green Apple Map Presents Environmentally Friendly Slice of New York City

Green Apple Map of New York

The Green Map System is a global non-profit organization with a local project known as the Green Apple Map. In 1992 the original Green Apple Map was created by Modern World Design. Three years later, in 1995, the Global Green Map System was launched, and then in the year 2000 the entire project became a non-profit organization.

Wendy E. Brawer is the founding director:

“The first Green Apple Map had fewer than 150 green sites, and by 2000, our 4th citywide edition had about 1,000. It showed us how far NYC had come and helped everyone understand the challenges ahead in greening our community. We were growing beyond the city, too, and had over 100 locally-led active Green Mapmaking teams and 36 Green Maps published worldwide by the turn of the century! The Green Map is clearly an effective response to today’s sustainability challenges!”

Green Apple Maps are available in print and on-line and beautifully chart the diverse environment of New York City. The map brings New Yorkers closer to nature and the culture of green living, pointing out places to go, eat, work and play which emphasizes the importance of the environment and its preservation.

Synergy Biogas Back on Track to Grid Hook Up and Millions in Federal Grants

Charles E. Schumer

New York US Senator Charles E. Schumer announced on Wednesday that the Synergy Biogas LLC bio-digester, located in Covington, in western New York, is back on track to get connected to the power grid before the year ends.

Missed Deadline Thwarted

There was a fear that Synergy was going to lose $2.8 million in federal investment money when National Grid told Synergy this past autumn that they would not be able to hook them up to the power grid until March 2012. One of the requirements of the federal government to receive the federal renewable energy tax credit grants was that Synergy had to be hooked up to the grid before the end of 2011.

Bio-Digester to Produce Energy

The federal grants are designed to help renewable energy developers recoup some of the cost of setting up alternative energy sources, making it more feasible for companies to create innovative methods of producing electricity. Synergy’s bio-digester is a co-digester which used animal and food waste to create clean energy.

Schumer Intervenes

Schumer intervened to insure that Synergy receive its federal tax credits. He visited Synergy’s bio-digester in November, and also called the National Grid to explain the need for them to get Synergy hooked up to the grid before January 1st, 2012, as had been agreed upon previously, so that Synergy will qualify for the grants money.

“This project could be a game changer for alternative energy for Western New York, and serve as a model for bio-digesters that could start popping up across Upstate New York,” Schumer said. “We couldn’t let this project slide off the rails and risk losing millions of dollars in federal investments, so I went to bat for Synergy Biogas and this project. I’m thrilled National Grid has heeded the call, and that the project is back on track to be connected to the grid by the end of the week. When I visited the site last month, the potential for bio-digesters was plain as day, and I’m going to do everything I can to keep supporting this project in Covington, and future projects throughout the state.”

NYSERDA New Year’s Resolutions to Start Saving Now

Power down with one flick of the switch

The NYSERDA is asking consumers to make energy efficiency a priority in their lives as the new year fast approaches.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority suggest that consumers make an even stronger commitment to reducing their carbon footprint with just a few simple life style changes that can make a big difference.

Here are a few amazingly simple, low-cost or free, habits that the NYSERDA recommends everyone begin to adhere to:

• Always remove the lint in the lint-trap of your electric or gas dryer. When the trap is full, the dryer must work harder to dry your clothes, resulting in wasted energy and a higher utilities bill.

• Leak no more: When your faucets are leaking water your money is literally go down the drain with the water. Get all your leaks fixed and save as much as $100 annually.

• Are you watching TV? Are you using that light? If the answer is no, then turn it off. To make it even easier to power down appliances, attach several related apparatuses to one power strip, and then just turn off the strip. With one flick of the switch you have shut off several sources of electric waste.

The NYSERDA has many more suggestions how you can get your electric, gas and oil bills downs while simultaneously saving our natural resources and the environment around us.

PSC Says Trash Incineration Not Renewable Energy

Covanta Energy Corp

To the satisfaction of advocates of clean energy in New York, Covanta Energy Corporation withdrew its petition to the New York State Public Service Commission to be considered as eligible as a form of renewable energy.

Covanta’s request is the third time that the PSC considered trash incineration to be worthy of inclusion in the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which was established in 2004 to help support and promote clean and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power as an alternative to the burning of fossil fuels. The RPS is paid for by consumers with a small surcharge attached to their monthly utility bills.

All three rejections by the PSC, in 2004, 2010 and now came as a result of the PSC believing that incineration has an adverse environmental impact, and also due to strong public opposition. This past summer many environmental advocacy groups as well as businesses, elected officials, and thousands of private citizens took the time to submit statements in strong protest against Covanta’s petition. Their arguments are that garbage incineration is not renewable energy and should not be given the same status as wind and solar power.

PlaNYC Turning Refuse to Good Use

Mayor Bloomberg and PlaNYC

PlaNYC is New York City’s initiative to, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg puts it, make a “Greater and Greener” New York.

The initiative contains 132 separate ideas for improving the quality of New York’s air, to reducing its dependence on oil for heating, to a scheme to offer loans to encourage more people to install energy efficient appliances. The plan also includes developing what are known as “brownfield” sites- unused land which is usually thought to be unusable because of contamination.

Playing a crucial role in lowering New York’s greenhouse emissions by 30 percent by 2030 will be the increased use of renewable sources of energy. The city has plans to support the development of 60 megawatts of solar energy producers in partnership with New York utilities. Also on the to-do-list is building solar thermal facilities in the city’s former garbage dumps, landfills and other city-owned sites throughout the city.

“City landfills can accommodate more than 50 MW of solar power on only a small fraction of available land,” the PlaNYC report states. “Installing solar power at these sites could significantly improve local air quality by reducing generation at the city’s dirtiest plants during periods of peak summer demand.”

Mayor Bloomberg said, “PlaNYC is our agenda for a greener, greater New York that will help guide our city to a better future. We’ve come an incredibly long way toward our goals, and now, together, we’re finding new ways to accelerate our progress.”

Energy Saving Forum at Suffern Library from NYSERDA

On December 14, from 7pm until 8:30pm the Suffern Free Library together with the Mid-Hudson Energy Smart Communities will co-sponsor a forum entitled “Getting Your Home Ready for Winter: Saving Energy and Money with NYSERDA.”

This even is planned as an educational energy workshop which will explain to participants how they can access a free, or discounted comprehensive home energy use assessment conducted by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA.)

Such an assessment can lead to homeowners saving up to $700 on home energy bills. Such an assessment can also lead to a safer and more comfortable living experience at home.

The discussion will be led by the Mid-Hudson Smart Communities Coordinator, Meridith Nierenberg.  She will be explaining and exploring the various energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and incentives available from NYSERDA.

For more information contact Miguelina Molina or call 845.357.1237 or visit http://www.suffernfreelibrary.org/default.aspx