Posts Tagged ‘energy’

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wild Center to Host Solar Thermal Collection Systems Workshop

The Wild Center, in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the US Green Building Council – NY Upstate Chapter, is hosting a Solar Thermal Collection Systems Workshop on April 15th and 16th, 2010.

The educational event will include a full day of classroom instruction on solar thermal collection system principles, design considerations and system installations for residential and commercial applications and a second day of hands-on installation training involving flat plate and evacuated tube solar collectors, storage vessels, pumps, piping and controls. Participants in the two day event will experience what it takes to install state-of-the-art solar thermal collection system components as part of a larger NYSERDA supported renewable energy demonstration project. The workshop is expected to draw a wide-ranging audience of building industry professionals, business owners and homeowners from throughout upstate NY.

The instructor will be Peter Skinner P.E., a solar thermal installer, designer, researcher and educator. He has designed and installed many residential and commercial solar thermal systems, two of which were supported by NYSERDA and are fully performance monitored. Mr. Skinner has served on the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Solar Thermal Test committee and currently serves as co-chair of the NYS Solar Thermal Roadmap work force development and education committee. He has designed and guides manufacture of the SunDog Solar Rover, a portable solar thermal demonstration unit, and chairs a group of professionals preparing educator and student manuals for a comprehensive solar thermal education program.

One day registration for the April 15th classroom instruction is $65 and two day registration (April 15 and 16) for classroom instruction and hands-on training is $95. Registration for the program is limited and includes continental breakfast and lunch both days. Eligible building professionals can earn educational benefits for attending the event. For more information and to register visit www.wildcenter.org/solar or call Chris Rdzanek, Director of Facilities, (518) 359-7800, ext. 117.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Commentary: National Grid Gouges Adirondackers

What would happen if a pizzeria tacked on a $50 delivery charge to a $15 pizza? It would go out of business faster than you can snap your fingers. That’s because pizzerias are subject to competition. National Grid power company can get away with such outrageous billing practices because it has no competition in the energy delivery business.

While New York state has legalized competition in the energy supply market, National Grid remains the monopoly energy deliverer in the areas it serves, which includes much of the Adirondacks.

You can buy energy from another provider but it’s still delivered via National Grid power lines, and the British-based conglomerate milks this distinction for all it’s worth.

National Grid’s bill includes two major charges: supply cost and delivery cost. The supply costs (the part the ordinary consumer can control) are typically reasonable. The delivery costs (the part the consumer can’t control) are invariably outrageous.

Last December, I used $41.14 worth of electricity, but they charged me $84.76 to deliver it.

Last September, I used a mere $9.45 worth of electricity. My reward for such energy efficiency was a whopping $33.08 delivery charge.

In what world is the delivery charge for a product three and a half times more than the actual value of the product?

National Grid is nominally regulated by the state’s Public Service Commission- though gouging like this makes you wonder how much regulation is actually going on.

National Grid has claimed that sky-high delivery charges are designed to ‘stabilize’ rates. Yet even in February, invariably my highest energy usage month, delivery charges were still higher than supply charges.

These dubious billing practices have no doubt padded the conglomerate’s bottom line: National Grid made profits of $1.43 Billion in its most recent fiscal year.

But gouging New Yorkers’ wallets was not enough to prevent the company from outsourcing jobs from central New York.

A Syracuse Post-Standard article noted that:

National Grid’s electric prices consistently rank among the handful of highest-priced major utilities in the country. In 2008, the company’s residential rates were 37 percent above the national average and its commercial rates were more than 60 percent higher, according to the latest statistics available from the U.S. Department of Energy.

This was primarily because of the expense National Grid incurred when it bought Niagara Mohawk. Once that expense was paid off, New Yorkers were told, rates would go down.

Wrong!

The company now wants to raise rates another 20 percent… that’s delivery rates, where the real gouging occurs. This would generate the monopoly another $390 million a year. Would this go to infrastructure upgrades? Improved service?

According to the Post Standard: Tom King, president of National Grid in the United States, said the company needs to make higher profits in order to attract money from shareholders and lenders to invest in the Upstate electric grid. Shareholders earned a 5 percent return on their Upstate electric investment last year, down from 10 percent in 2005.

Quite clearly, New Yorkers were duped.

In the mid-1990s, officials in the city of Glens Falls pushed for the creation of a municipal power company, like the one run successfully by the similarly-sized town of Massena. Nearby localities like Queensbury and Lake George could also have hooked up to the system.

Not surprisingly, the then-Niagara Mohawk saw this a threat to their lucrative business and waged a massively expensive and somewhat deceptive PR campaign which succeeded in defeating the project in a referendum.

I suspect Glens Falls residents regret the vote each time they open up their National Grid bill.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Local Municipalities Struggle for NYSERDA Green Funds

Municipalities inside the Adirondack Park are facing hurdles and isolation from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), according to a review of NYSERDA practices. NYSERDA is the agency that channels all energy efficiency and renewable funding for New York State, including stimulus funds, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds, funds from the Green Jobs / Green Homes NY bill, the Systems Benefit Charge that Adirondack residents each pay on their electric bill,and more.

Concerns first arose among local officials after NYSERDA abruptly canceled Canton-based Community Energy Services’ contract to run the North Country Energy $mart Community program in 10 counties (at $150,000 per year). The nonprofit was forced to close its doors after eight years, putting eight full- and part-time employees out of work and leaving the North Country without a central coordinating organization for local Green jobs and technologies, according to the Watertown Daily Times.

Green energy proponents with long-standing relationships with CES who asked not to be identified because of fears their own funding applications would be jeopardized told the Almanack that NYSERDA never cooperated with CES and could not appreciate the unique demands of rural communities.

“CES had never had adequate support from NYSERDA,” one said. “[CES] had tried to find solutions to adapt programs to the North Country’s needs, where for example construction teams operate as a one- or two-man self-employed show rather than the 20-30 common in urban areas.” Sources said NYSDERA was uncooperative, and their response, canceling CES’s contract and leaving the area without any access to knowledgeable support, was unproductive.

At the time, NYSERDA claimed it was revamping its North Country program and promised to issue a new request for proposals “any day.” In the meantime, NYSERDA’s economic development staff in Albany was tasked with overseeing the local program. Five months later a new Request For Proposals for the contract was issued, one that is still inadequate to address the needs of smaller communities—such as the lack of Building Performance Institute (BPI) Accredited Companies in the Adirondacks—according to critics. BPI companies do the comprehensive home assessment/audit as well as the retrofit work under NYSERDA’s Home Performance Program. “There are many hoops to jump through,” one local energy expert said, “and most small local contractors don’t see the value or don’t have the time and money to get through the process.”

Jeffrey Gordon, NYSERDA’s Director of Communications, responded by saying that “our plans in the North Country include expanding the program, to hire an additional [Energy Services] Coordinator.” “Previously there was one and a half coordinators; our plan will be to provide three total to better serve the large geographic area,” he said. “Furthermore, and Energy Services Coordinator does not need to be involved.”

Gordon also pointed to NYSERDA’s “pre-qualified incentive path” for smaller Existing Facilities and the agency’s Small Commercial Audit Program, for smaller smaller Industrial and commercial facilities, State and local governments, not-for-profit and private institutions, colleges and universities, K-12 schools, and non-residential facilities. The Small Commercial Audit Program is not hindered by the lack of local BPI accredited contractors because it is administered through L&S Energy Services, Inc., of Clifton Park, a company that handles all projects from Westchester County to the Canadian Border, from Vermont to Lake Ontario.

Local officials and green energy proponents have also been disturbed by additional steps required by NYSERDA for its Small Community Block Grants, which they feel have limited local municipalities’ access to $29 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided for small municipalities across New York State. Because of their small size, local municipalities seeking those funds are required to submit individual proposals for projects, while larger communities were given a check directly from the Department of Energy to use funds at their discretion.

The ARRA stimulus money is supposed to fund projects that reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions, and improve energy efficiency, but local applicants say new hoops for small communities are an unfair burden. Not a single community in the Adirondacks met the “Large Community” standard, and so none were allocated funds directly from the first round of ARRA Community Block Grants [pdf].

Grant applications for the Small Community Block Grants—$1.8 million over a 14 county area—were due February 17th. Local municipalities had just six weeks to devise a project and develop the application and supporting materials. Essex County planners said they only got a helping hand from NYSERDA in January, a month before the application was due.

A green energy proponent who works directly with local Adirondack municipalities said local governments are “short-staffed, they are part-time, poorly paid, and the requirements for NYSDERA applications are exacting.” “They were asked to prove a certain level of energy savings which required precise calculations, space measurements, a year of energy bills, some software usage that many here are not familiar with,” the source said.

Local municipalities were required to have a municipal energy audit done in advance, which takes longer to arrange in the North Country where there are very few certified energy auditors. Communities were required to pass a resolution in support of the application even though many local town boards meet just once a month. Victor J. Putman, Director Essex County Department of Community Development and Planning, said, “I can’t see how a town without an engineer and a planning department could have applied.”

Essex County was swamped with requests from its 18 towns and 4 villages, and was forced to leave behind the county government’s needs in order to help them through the process of securing audits and preparing applications. With the county’s help, municipalities filed 14 applications from 11 towns totaling about $500,000. Each application took a staff person working 4 to 5 days to complete, a requirement locals said stretched the meaning of “Block Grant.”

Jeffrey Gordon, NYSERDA’s Director of Communications, said that since 2008, NYSERDA incentives to four counties in the North Country totaled approximately $4.8 million, which includes funding for photovoltaic installations, energy efficiency, and residential investments—that number does not include large-scale investments (none of which were in located inside the Park anyway). About $2.1 million of that money was from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

A closer look at that ARRA numbers, however, reveals less than $100,000 has gone to municipalities in the Adirondack Park. “The Park has been slighted again,” Putman said. “I would like to see a redirection of priorities to areas with the highest needs.” Essex County has some of the oldest infrastructure and housing stock in the state, the highest demand for energy, and pays some of the highest energy rates, Putman said.

When pressed with the question, “What funds have gone to municipalities inside the park?” NYSERDA’s Jeffery Gordon pointed to a number of projects in municipalities outside the park, projects for a few non-profits inside the Blue Line. Gordon said NYSERDA provided $2,100 for the Town of Jay for “technical assistance,” and cited $16,000 Warren County received for various energy efficiency projects [how much of that money was spent in the Park could not be determined in time for this report]. An additional $77,000 went to the Town of Harrietstown Housing Authority for technical assistance and energy efficiency incentives for two multi-family housing facilities. By way of comparison, at the same time the Town of Queensbury, just outside the Park’s southern border, received $167,000 for various energy efficiency projects.

The balance of the nearly $5 million allocated by NYSERDA in the four counties went to a few local nonprofits and for-profit companies inside the Blue Line. For example, last year $75,000 in financial incentives was awarded to Adirondack Woodsman’s Pellet Company for business-development planning in Long Lake, and $350,000 was awarded to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake to install a wood pellet boiler and a solar-thermal hot water array system. $10,000 in incentives was provided for Elizabethtown Hospital, $361,500 to Saranac Central School and $246,400 to the North Country School to install high efficiency wood boilers.

Adirondack residents each pay a Systems Benefit Charge (SBC) on their electric bill, which is used to fund NYSERDA’s Energy $mart Program and other projects designed to improve the state’s transmission and distribution infrastructure, including energy efficiency, education and outreach, research and development, and low-income energy assistance. The fund amounts to about $1.87 billion from 1998 through 2011, according to the Public Service Commission (PSC). How much of that money residents of the Adirondack Park have paid and how much they’ve received back is an open question.

In March 2006, the PSC ordered the Systems Benefit Charge be extended through June 30, 2011 and increased the annual funding to $175 million [pdf]. As a result, an estimated $896 million (including interest earnings) will be collected during this five-year period ($427 million for peak load, energy efficiency, outreach and education; $182 million for research and development, including renewable energy; and $190 million for low-income energy assistance).


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wild Center’s Winter Wild Days: Wind Power, Animal Tracking

The Wild Center’s Winter Wildays continues on Saturday, February 27th, 2010. With activities from now until the end of March there is a schedule guaranteed to keep everyone in the family entertained, enlightened and warm during these long winter months.

On Saturday February 27th, at 1:00 pm, join Ken Visser, as he provides an introduction to small wind turbine technology and takes a closer look at the fundamentals of wind, current technology and ongoing research in ‘Windpower in the Adirondacks’.

The aerodynamic design of a wind turbine is a complex process involving the balance of numerous parameters, but the fundamental objective of a wind turbine design is to maximize energy produced while minimizing the capital and operating costs. How to balance these objectives and produce a viable design has led to many “marketing ploys” that the consumer needs to be aware of.

Three areas of interest will be presented: 1) fundamentals of wind energy including power and energy in the wind, factors affecting turbine performance and behavior, and various turbine concepts, 2) current technologies for the consumer, such as what is available and what to look out for and be aware of; costs; and expectations, and 3) wind research at Clarkson University on new concepts for the future.

On Sunday, February 28th, Family Art and Nature day begins at 1pm. Bring the entire family and explore this week’s theme, ‘Become a Track Detective’. Come prepared to go outside and use your detective skills to track down some of our critter friends. Once you’ve learned the ropes we’ll head inside to create our own track stamps and then create your own track story. Snowshoes provided.

As always, there are hikes on free snowshoes, animal encounters, movies and food. Winter Wildays are free for members or with paid admission.

For additional information on The Wild Center, visit www.wildcenter.org or call (518) 359-7800.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eco-driving: Squeeze More Miles From Your Car

“We’ll need gas soon,” said my friend Jim, as we drove through the Adirondack night last weekend somewhere west of Warrensburg. “I think I can make it to Exit 19.”

I glanced over at the dashboard. The empty-tank warning light was glowing yellow, the needle so far below “E” that it appeared broken. We were coming back from an all-day cross country ski trip, both of us tired and sweaty. Exit 19 was a half-hour away.

I was about to say something, but then I decided not to bother. Jim is an eco-driver. He utilizes a variety of techniques to squeeze as much mileage out of a tank of gas as possible — inflating the tires well beyond their recommended pressures, coasting down hills with the engine off, drafting behind trucks. And he doesn’t fill up his tank until it’s damn-near empty — anything less would be an admission of defeat.

All of a sudden, climbing up a hill on that dark night, the Chevy Prism engine shuddered for a moment. The prospect of walking untold miles in the dark, with the temperature just north of 0 degrees F, loomed. Then the vehicle resumed its smooth operation.

“Maybe I’d better fill up in Warrensburg,” he said.

“You think?”

As those of us who are environmentally conscious look to find better ways to help the world around us, we might look no further than our cars. While some of Jim’s eco-driving practices are rather extreme, the idea at its heart has some merit.

Go to EcoDrivingusa.com, for instance, and you’ll see a variety of easy ways to save on mileage: check tire inflation regularly, avoid sharp starts, don’t waste time warming up the engine on cold mornings, take out unneeded weight from the trunk, stay at 60 mph on the highway. You can use low-friction oil, and keep an eye on your tachometer to keep the engine revving at around 2,000 rpm, the most efficient speed. You can keep your skis in the car with the seats down, instead of putting a wind-dragging rack on the roof.

After all, when driving, say, two hours to a hike to enjoy the natural world, it seems rather hypocritical not to use best driving practices on the way.

Jim, however, goes beyond the eco-driving norm. Is it really a good idea to drive with tires inflated at 10 psi over the recommended limit? Or drive down a hill with the power brakes and steering off? Or draft only a few feet behind the truck (besides, based on the rules of physics, wouldn’t that just take away from the trucker’s mileage, resulting in zero gain)?

“You’re not an eco-driver,” I once told him on another harrowing drive with the needle on E. “You’re an ego-driver.”

“Ha ha,” he said, reaching for my least-favorite CD — a compilation of a local folk band singing bawdy drinking songs from the 1700s. Jim and I have a strange friendship.

Still, eco-driving works, according to Jim. He says his Prism routinely gets 45 miles per gallon, about 10 miles more than the car’s typical highway miles. That doesn’t make those drinking songs any easier to listen to, but it does give this eco-driving thing a little bit of street cred. And to be honest, he hasn’t run out of fuel yet — though it’s been close.

So think about some of these practices next time you’re taking your car out for a long drive. And if you’re planning to catch a ride with Jim, you might want to bring an extra gallon of gas — just in case.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Biofuels and Adirondack Forest Jobs

The Adirondack Research Consortium will sponsor a biofuels market development conference Wednesday, February 17 in Saratoga Springs.

The day-long meeting will focus on the potential of this emerging industry in the Adirondacks and North Country, with an emphasis on business creation. Topics include biomass market supply and demand, policies affecting biomass energy markets, project finance perspectives, and technology. Experts will discuss these issues from a developer’s perspective.

Several Adirondack institutions, including the Wild Center, Paul Smith’s College and a few schools have announced intentions to switch from oil to wood-based heat and/or power. The weak economy and lack of start-up capital has stalled some initiatives, however. Paul Smith’s College trustees this year tabled a proposal to build a wood-chip co-generation plant as cost projections came in millions of dollars higher than initial estimates.

Biofuels are derived from plants, sometimes corn and switchgrass; in the Adirondacks biomass almost always means wood. Although this region still identifies forest products as a mainstay of its economy, in reality very few people work in logging anymore. Select hardwood and spruce logs are exported, often to Canada. Paper mills that ring the Adirondack Park have either shut down or no longer get pulp from local logs, with a couple of exceptions.

Foresters say biofuels have the potential to revive Adirondack logging if a critical mass of demand can be established. Low-quality trees that once went to pulpmills could be ground into chips or pellets instead. (Forest ecologists are also weighing the benefits of the carbon neutrality of wood fuels vs. the ability of uncut forests to store greenhouse gases.)

The conference program, registration, and accommodation information can be found on the Adirondack Research Consortium’s Web site, adkresearch.org.

Wood chips photograph from Wikimedia Commons


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: First Adirondack Youth Climate Summit

Registration for the 2009 Youth Climate is closed but schools, universities, parents and children can follow the two-day event via a live stream. Conceived by then 17-year-old Zachary Berger of Lake Placid after attending the Adirondack Climate Conference last year, this year’s summit illustrates to all young people that their opinions and ideas can make a difference.

After much anticipation the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit will be held November 9th and 10th at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The 24 attending high schools and colleges will each send a team of students, educators, administrators and facilities staff to develop a feasible carbon reduction plan that decreases energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to bring back to their schools and communities.

Zachary Berger, inspired by the Adirondack Climate Conference held at The Wild Center in 2008, contacted conference planners to organize a similar gathering exploring climate change and its effect on the Adirondacks for the youth of the region. In early 2009, a steering committee, comprised of students, educators and The Wild Center staff, formed to bring Zach’s vision to fruition.

Berger says, “At the [Adirondack Climate] Conference there were over 175 community leaders, business owners, and others, all with a concern for the environment, but there were only about 10 students, representing only one university, and one high school. From my point of view this under representation led to things being overlooked such as the lack of environmental education in public schools.”

The Youth Climate Summit’s goal is multilevel, according to ADKCAP (Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan). The Summit will hold educational plenary sessions where research-based information will be presented about the economic and ecological effects of climate change. Participants will learn strategies to address climate change in the Adirondacks and how, when applied, communities will benefit monetarily.

Workshops are scheduled throughout the two-day event pairing students with experienced personnel to develop training skills to inspire participants to engage others to “green their schools and communities.” Through hands-on activities members will learn team-building skills in the hopes to engage classmates and coworkers in a grassroots effort to make their schools energy-efficient. During this process teams will develop a carbon and cost reduction plan to bring back to each school.

The following high schools and colleges are attending this inaugural year: Chateaugay Central School, Clifton-Fine Central School, Colton-Pierrepont Central School, Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School, Green Tech Charter High School, Heuvelton Central School, Keene Central School, Lake Placid High School, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Minerva Central School, Moriah Central School, Morristown Central School, Newcomb Central School, Northville Central School, Ogdensburg Free Academy, Plattsburgh High School, Potsdam High School, Saranac Lake Central School, St. Regis Falls, Tupper Lake Central School, Clarkson University, Colgate University, North Country Community College, Paul Smiths College, St. Lawrence University and SUNY Potsdam.

These institutions will serve as models in energy efficiency, sustainable energy usage, building maintenance, landscaping & grounds management, school & community garden planning, and how to affect the current science curriculum in schools. (The Summit is aligned with NYS Commencement Level MST Standards.)

The Adirondack Youth Climate Summits are scheduled through 2011 to monitor the success of each climate action plan. There will also be the opportunity for those Adirondack schools that watch the live web stream to participate in future summits. The complete schedule information is available here.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Paterson’s Deficit Proposals Mean For The Adirondacks

Late last week Governor David Paterson announced a two-year, $5.0 billion deficit reduction plan that he claims would “eliminate the State’s current-year budget gap without raising taxes, as well as institute major structural reforms.” The plan includes a second raid on the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which the Governor swept clean of $50 million at the end of 2008, and a raid on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s (RGGI) carbon allowance auction proceeds. Those funds, amounting to about $90 million, had been slated for energy conservation and clean energy development.

“Energy conservation and clean energy development,” says Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan, “are two areas where the investment would have provided both real savings for the taxpayer and clear benefits to the environment and public health.” None of the money collected from the carbon auctions since the New York began participating in January has been spent on energy programs according to Sheehan, who added that “this may be the first time in history that a dedicated fund was actually raided for another purpose before one cent of it was spent on its intended purpose.”

The proposed $10 million dollar raid on the EPF is the second within a year. About $500 million has been diverted from the fund for non-environmental purposes since 2003. The EPF is supposed to fund major environmental projects and provide local tax relief for landfill closures, municipal recycling facilities, conservation agreements, and expansion of the state Forest Preserve.

“A month or so ago, we wondered aloud why the Governor wasn’t spending the Environmental Protection Fund money that had already been collected since April 1,” Sheehan wrote in a recent e-mail to the media, “Now we know why.”

The governor’s announcement comes just a week after he said he would cut ten percent from the budgets of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). The Governor’s plan announced late last year to cut state property tax payments to Adirondack municipalities that host state lands was rejected by the State Legislature this spring.

EXCERPT FROM GOVERNOR’S PRESS RELEASE:

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)/EPF Transfers
(2009-10 Savings: $100 million; 2010-11 Savings: $0 million)

This proposal would transfer $90 million in RGGI proceeds and $10 million from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to the General Fund. It is currently expected that RGGI proceeds through the end of 2009-10 will total $220 million, allowing the state to meet its $112 million commitment to the recently passed Green Jobs legislation, as well as this $90 million General Fund transfer. Additionally, it is fully expected that after implementation of the DRP, the State would still be able to meet its original 2009-10 EPF cash spending plan of $180 million, which is equal to record 2008-09 levels.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Schroon Lake Resort, Gas Pipeline Get Stimulus Funds

Governor David Paterson announced this week (in Malone) that $17.5 million in Upstate Regional Blueprint Fund stimulus grants will be spent on 15 projects across the state. According to a press release issued by the governor’s office the funds are expected to support “projects that help provide a framework for future growth in regions with stymied development.” This first round of funding includes two Northern New York projects, one inside the Blue Line.

Schroon Revitalization Group, LLC received nearly a million dollars for “the initial development of an 81-room resort in Schroon Lake for year-round access to the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.” The development is being put forth as a cornerstone of the revitalization of the Town of Schroon Lake, Essex County.

The St. Lawrence Gas Distribution Project received $2.5 million for the construction of a 48-mile natural gas pipeline from St. Lawrence County into Franklin County. According to the governor’s office the new line has the potential to benefit 4,000 North Country residents. Richard Campbell, President and General Manager of St. Lawrence Gas, said new line will was “vitally important.” “Bringing natural gas to this new market area will provide an economic and environmentally preferred fuel choice to residential, commercial and industrial customers,” he said.

State Senator Darrel Aubertine, Chair of the Senate Majority’s Upstate Caucus, says that the pipeline will create jobs, pointing specifically to expected growth at Fulton Thermal and MaCadam Cheese.

Grant applications and awards were overseen by Empire State Development (ESD). More information about the Upstate Regional Blueprint Funds and application forms can be found at www.nylovesbiz.com. Applications for round II funding are being accepted until October 15, 2009.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adirondack Journalism Conference Coming to Blue Mt. Lake

The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) will host a journalism conference at the Blue Mountain Center, in Blue Mountain Lake, on Tuesday, November 10. Some of the region’s and state’s best reporters will be presenters, and the keynote speaker will be environmental journalist Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Adirondack Almanack’s John Warren will participate as a panelist in a discussion on blogs.

The conference is open to all, and registration details are provided at the end of this press release from ACW:

Presenters include Will Doolittle of the Glens Falls Post-Star, Mike Hill of the Associated Press and Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio.

Topics will include “How to Write A Compelling Story with a 24-hour Deadline”; “Tough Reporting in Small Towns,” how to effectively report tough stories even when they involve neighbors and friends; and “How to Make a Living as a Freelance Journalist,” strategies for building a sustainable income as a journalist working in the Adirondack North Country. This discussion will include nuts and bolts issues of multiple sales, quality control, contract arrangements, and deadline management.

A blogging panel discussion features John Warren of Adirondack Almanack and New York History, Brian Mann of NCPR’s “In Box,” and Adirondack Life associated editor Lisa Bramen, who blogs for the Smithsonian’s “Food and Thought.” That discussion will be moderated by Elizabeth Folwell of Adirondack Life magazine.

Jeff Goodell is a best-selling author and journalist. The New York Times called his latest book, Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), “a compelling indictment of one of the country’s biggest, most powerful and most antiquated industries . . . well-written, timely, and powerful.”

Goodell is the author of three previous books including Sunnyvale, a memoir about growing up in Silicon Valley that was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Our Story, an account of the nine miners trapped in a Pennsylvania coal mine, was a national bestseller. He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, and his work has appeared in many publications, including The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, and Wired. His new book, How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate will be published by Houghton Mifflin in the spring of 2010.

Will Doolittle grew up in Saranac Lake and started his journalism career as a 14-year-old at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, which, along with the Lake Placid News, was at that time owned and run by his father. He has worked as a reporter and photographer at the Lake Placid News, reporter and city editor at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and managing editor at the Malone Telegram. He has lived in Glens Falls for 16 years, working at the Post-Star in various positions including night editor, Sunday editor, features editor and, currently, projects editor. He has continued reporting during those years and has written a weekly column for the paper for about a decade.

Doolittle has won numerous state journalism awards and several national ones, as a reporter and editor. He has focused on investigative reporting throughout his career and often—in Malone, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, especially—found himself investigating people he knew and often ran into around town. He has learned how to do the job in the most effective way, by making many mistakes. He is looking forward to revealing those mistakes to a roomful of reporters.

Mike Hill, in his two decades reporting for The Associated Press, has covered the state Capitol in Albany, the Sept. 11 attacks, crime, technology, culture and food. He has taught journalism at the University at Albany for five years as an adjunct and contributes to Adirondack Life magazine. He lives near Albany with his wife and two children.

Brian Mann came to the Adirondacks after working as a public radio journalist in Alaska and Missouri. He founded the Adirondack news bureau for North Country Public Radio and has won three national Edward R. Murrow Awards. His work appears regularly on National Public Radio. His 2006 book, Welcome to the Homeland, was widely reviewed. Mann is Adirondack bureau chief for North Country Public Radio and has built a thriving business as a freelance writer and producer. He will talk about strategies for building a sustainable income as a journalist working in the Adirondack North Country. His discussion will include nuts and bolts issues of multiple sales, quality control, contract arrangements, and deadline management.


The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) is a resource and educational organization that provides support to writers and enhances literary activity and communication throughout the Adirondacks. ACW benefits both emerging and established writers and develops literary audiences by encouraging partnerships among existing regional organizations to promote diverse programs. ACW is supported by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Journalism Conference Date: November 10, 2009
Time: 10:00 AM – 4:15 PM
Open to all – $30 per person, lunch provided (call for group rates)
Location: Blue Mountain Center, Blue Mountain Lake
Contact: Adirondack Center for Writing, (518) 327-6278, acw@paulsmiths.edu; www.adirondackcenterforwriting.org


Sunday, September 6, 2009

APA Meeting: Wind, Snowmobiles, Cell Towers, DOT, Lows Lake

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 9 through Friday September 11 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook. Meeting topics (detailed below) will include: two new cellular towers in North Hudson; the expansion of Adventure Bound Camps; a new permit application for wind energy projects; the 2009 New York State Draft Energy Plan; an agreement on travel corridor management between the Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the APA; DEC and APA guidance for snowmobile trail construction and maintenance; the classification proposals for land and water in the vicinity of Lows Lake and the Five Ponds Wilderness Area. The September meeting will be webcast live on the Agency’s homepage; meeting materials are available for download at http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Mailing/0909/index.htm » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Understanding Green Roofs At The Wild Center

The Wild Center in Tupper Lake will present a program on what it takes to plan, install and maintain a green roof in the northern Adirondack climate on September 15th, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. The event is free to members or with paid museum admission.

The session will offer the principles of green roof construction presented by two experts in the field. Dustin Brackney, project manager with Apex Green Roofs, Somerville, MA, who installed The Wild Center’s own 2500 square foot green roof, and Marguerite Wells, owner of Motherplants, a green roof plant nursery in Ithaca, NY, will each share their tips and techniques for successfully growing plants on a building’s roof in our harsh northern climate.

Roof structure requirements and green roof material components will be discussed, along with plant variety considerations, the benefits to the environment, and the economics of creating a unique wildlife habitat that can reduce building heating and cooling energy cost.

Photo: Chris Rdzanek, Director of Facilities, checks out The Wild Center’s Green Roof.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

August APA Meeting: Wind Projects, Enforcement

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, August 13 and Friday August 14 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The August meeting will be webcast live. The Agency’s homepage has a link to view the webcast. Here is the meeting agenda form the APA:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for the Acting Executive Director’s monthly report and introduction of the Agency’s new Executive Director, Terry Martino.

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider two residential wind turbine proposals, one in the Town of Essex, Essex County and one in the Town of Indian Lake, Hamilton County.

Both applicants propose the installation of wind-powered turbines to generate electricity for their existing single family dwellings. The proposed tower in Essex is 65-feet tall with nine foot diameter turbine blades for a maximum overall height of 70 feet. The proposed tower in Indian Lake is 105-feet tall with 18 foot diameter turbine blades for a maximum overall height of 115 feet.

Key issues include visibility and compliance with the Agency’s Tall Structures and Towers Policy.

The committee meeting will conclude with a staff briefing on the original and revised plans for the Olympic regional Development Authority Conference Center in Lake Placid, Essex County.

At 11:30, the Legal Affairs Committee will receive an update on the Agency’s proposed legislation involving affordable housing incentives, permit reforms and community planning funds. Staff will also provide a status update on current regulatory revision.

At 1:00, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will consider a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and authorization for staff to conduct a public hearing for proposed map amendments to the Official Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan. Agency staff initiated this reclassification of private land in the Town of Fine, St. Lawrence County, which local officials raised during a Community Spotlight presentation to the Agency Board. The proposal would result in the reclassification of 64 acres of Resource Management to Low Intensity Use and help accommodate future growth needs related to the community medical facility.

At 1:30, the State Land Committee will hear a status report on the Bog River Complex/Lows Lake classification/reclassification public hearing process. The committee will also hear a first reading of the proposed draft inter-agency memorandum of understanding for travel corridor management plans. This MOU between the Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation and the APA outlines an approach for developing, reviewing and implementing travel corridor unit management plans for the approximately 1,100 miles of state highway corridors in the Adirondack Park.

At 2:30, the full Agency will convene for the ongoing Community Spotlight Series. This month Town of Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed is the guest speaker for the Community Spotlight presentation. Supervisor Goodspeed will give an overview of his community and highlight important community issues facing this Warren County town.

At 3:30, the Enforcement Committee will come to order for administrative enforcement proceedings related to alleged permit violations resulting in non compliance from house size, septic system and shoreline cutting violations on a private property in the Town of Putnam, Washington County and an alleged unauthorized subdivision resulting in substandard lots in the Town of Mayfield, Fulton County.

On Friday morning at 9:00, the Park Ecology Committee will convene for a presentation from Dr. Otto Doering III on the Economic Impact of Invasive Species. Dr. Doering is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University and a member of the US Department of Interior’s Invasive Species Advisory Committee. He publishes in the areas of agricultural policy, resource conservation, water, energy/biofuels, and climate change and is a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

APA Soil Scientist and Forester Larry Phillips will then inform the Park ecology Committee on Federal efforts to track the spread of Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorned Beetle. Mr. Phillips will demonstrate how to identify these species and highlight ongoing federal efforts to detect them inside the Adirondack Park.

At 10:30am the Economic Affairs Committee will continue focusing on small business development. Empire State Development Regional Director Peter Wohl along with Economic Development Program Administrator Doug Schelleng will give a presentation detailing current programs administered through Empire State Development.

Empire State Development and the Governor’s newly appointed Small Business Development Task Force are in the process of evaluating the needs of small businesses to determine what adjustments would best meet the economic development needs of the State.

The Full Agency will convene at 10:45 to take action as necessary and conclude the meeting with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website at: http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Mailing/0908/index.htm

The next Agency meeting is September 10-11, 2009 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

October Agency Meeting: October 8-9, 2009, Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What’s On Your Adirondack Stimulus Money Wish List?

The Herkimer County Progressive blog’s post A Local Stimulus Wish List got me wondering what folks in the Adirondacks would want to do with stimulus money. It’s a question our politicians didn’t bother to really ask – so here’s your opportunity to sound off.

New or improved trails?
Light rail?
Sewer system installations or upgrades?
Educational upgrades?
Rooftop highway?
Invasive eradication?
Property tax relief?
Additions to the Forest Preserve?
Energy projects?

The question is basically if you had unlimited money, but had to prioritize, where would you put it?


Monday, July 20, 2009

DEC’s New Greenhouse Gas Review Policy

The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that Greenhouse gas emissions will be included in New York’s environmental review of large-scale projects under a new policy that becomes effective August 17th. The new policy will apply where DEC is the lead agency under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). SEQRA requires that a “lead agency” identify and assess actions for their potential adverse environmental impacts, and in certain cases, develop an environmental impact statement and propose mitigation strategies.

“This initiative builds on Governor Paterson’s commitment to continuing New York’s fight against climate change,” DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a press release. “DEC anticipates that, more and more, the public will raise the issue of climate change in the SEQRA process, and this policy will ensure that climate change impacts are considered in a consistent and fair manner. It includes a menu of design measures that can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, such as energy-efficient construction, use of renewable energy technology and waste reduction. While helping guide DEC staff, the policy also will help raise awareness of all the actions that can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The policy, proposed in March, is available at www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/56552.html.

DEC has also started a process to redesign the environmental assessment forms which used in SEQRA reviews. The update of this form will include the addition of questions related to energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, among other issues according to Grannis.



Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox