Solar arrays provide power, educational opportunities for Hobart students

A solar power project at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is both making power and producing educational opportunities for students, particularly in the area of sustainability.

The second of two solar arrays began operating in December; combined the two arrays employ 15,000 solar panels to produce 5 megawatts of power.  That’s half of what the Geneva institution requires.

“These solar projects are part of Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ work to reduce our carbon footprint and do what is right for the environment,” said Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer Carolee White. “Along the way we hope to realize some financial savings, but our driving force has been to uphold and advance our commitment to environmental sustainability.”

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority said the project supports Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s goal for the state moving to renewable power sources for half of its electricity by 2030.  The state’s NY-Sun program, administered by NYSERDA, provided funding for the project.

“I applaud Hobart and William Smith Colleges for committing to reducing their carbon footprint while taking the opportunity to use this project as an educational tool for students who are interested in clean energy careers,” said Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA.
Hobart and William Smith student in Professor Thomas Drennen’s Natural Resources and Energy Economics Class helped evaluate solar power proposals for the project. A student also drove the colleges to become a charter member, in 2007, in what’s now known as the national Climate Leadership Network’s Carbon Commitment.

Students will continue to monitor data from the arrays and visit the arrays on field trips connected to classes in economics and technical aspects of solar power, a college spokesman said.

The solar arrays were developed and installed by Dynamic Energy Solutions LLC of Wayne, Pennsylvania. The two arrays lie within four miles of the campus. They feed power into the grid and the college is credited on its utility bill.

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City, five other employers, vow to create charging stations

The City of Rochester and five other employers are pledging to boost electric vehicle recharging stations, hoping to enlarge the infrastructure supporting the growth of electric vehicles in the state.

The employers, which also include Dixon Schwabl, Larsen Engineers, Nazareth College, Rochester Institute of Technology and SunCommon NY Inc., are scheduled to be recognized at an event at Radio Social Tuesday (March 6) night. The event is co-sponsored by the city’s Rochester Electric Vehicle Accelerator and the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

“By increasing the number of charging stations at workplaces, local organizations are making it clear they want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make their local communities healthier,” said Alicia Barton, president and CEO of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. “I applaud those who have signed the pledge for showing real leadership by supporting this initiative which will help us meet Governor Cuomo’s ambitious goals to combat climate change while advancing the economic growth and community development priorities of Finger Lakes Forward.”

NYSERDA supports the city’s electric initiative, which has already resulted in 12 city recharging stations, and 10 electric city vehicles. Combined, the six employers have a total of 30 charging stations.

Cuomo’s Charge NY 2.0 initiative had set a goal of 30,000 to 40,000 electric cars on the road by 2018, which has already been met. Charge NY also set a goal of making 10,000 charging stations available across the state by 2021. Currently there are about 2,000 stations.

“Workplace charging allows employers to increase the convenience and affordability of driving electric for their employees, which plays a role in attracting and retaining top talent, said Bob Duffy, president and CEO of Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Lovely A. Warren added, “Our region’s growing reputation as a community that is committed to environmental stewardship is helping us create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for our citizens.”

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SUNY Brockport gets energy efficiency training grant

The State University College at Brockport received a grant of more than $220,000 from the state, it was announced on Thursday, (Feb. 8) to fund a training program for facilities workers to become more knowledgeable in energy efficiency.

Brockport will develop a training program for using the digital energy data management system, known as New York Energy Manager, or NYEM, which is located in Albany and operated by the New York Power Authority. The grant comes from the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority.

“Sustainability and strategic partnerships are two themes within my vision for SUNY, and this training program is an example of these themes at work,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina J. Johnson. “Thank you to President (Heidi) Macpherson and the SUNY College at Brockport team for creating a training program that is scalable throughout SUNY, and will have a significant impact on our ability to reach state and national benchmarks in energy efficiency.”

Johnson noted that SUNY represents more than 40 percent of all state-owned buildings, making the colleges a fitting place to demonstrate new methods of energy conservation.

“We anticipate a reduction in our annual energy spend by at least 5 percent as a result of this project, saving approximately $260,000 per year,” Macpherson said. “One of our strategic goals is to be a sustainable institution for the 21stcentury, and this program moves us further down that road.”

NYEM gathers energy-use data from participating buildings and performances an analysis on hidden costs and inefficiencies of energy usage and also provides guidance on becoming more efficient. Johnson said the training program could be offered throughout the SUNY system later on.

Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of NYPA, said the organization is “excited to partner with SUNY on this initiative, which will enable us to further leverage New York Energy Manager to reduce energy use for our customers across the state.”

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State money for geothermal exploration available

Two state authorities are making nearly $4 million available to help schools, government buildings and health care facilities install large-scale geothermal energy systems.

The $3.8 million Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge was announced jointly Wednesday, Dec. 6, by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York Power Authority. The initiative is part of the state’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent across New York by 2030.

“Geothermal energy can be an ideal, cost-conscious, and clean solution to heating and cooling buildings in New York,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “NYPA is excited to partner with NYSERDA on this initiative. We look forward to seeing the implementation of clean geothermal systems at many sites throughout the state as this Challenge gets underway.”

The challenge can help facilities determine if they’re good sites for installing geothermal pumps that transfer heat to and from the ground to save on energy costs. Up to 75 applications will be accepted, through March 30. Each application will receive a free summary report analyzing the viability of a geothermal system for the applicant. Up to 25 applicants will be eligible to receive up to $125,000 in matching funds for design studies. Other funds are available for project construction, if approved. Applications can be submitted online through the Geothermal Challenge website. Questions can be emailed to [email protected].

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Report: Clean energy jobs on the rise

Clean energy jobs increased at a rate of 3.4 percent in New York in 2016, double the job growth rate of all industries across the state.

The figure comes from the “2017 New York Clean Energy Industry Report,” recently published by the NYS Energy and Research Development Authority.

Among other findings was that the Finger Lakes Region was second highest in the state for its number of green energy jobs per capita—16.2 per 1,000 workers. Only Long Island, home of the Clean Energy Business Incubator, had a higher rate, which was 20.8 jobs per 1,000 workers.

The state total of 146,000 clean energy jobs was expected to rise more precipitously this year, bringing the rate to 7 percent in 2017, the report noted.

Prompted by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s clean energy policies, said Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA, “clean energy companies throughout New York are creating thousands of jobs and growing our economy faster than ever before.”

Barton added, “New York is proving that leading in the fight on climate change is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create an entirely new home-grown industry.”

Approximately 75 percent of the clean-energy jobs were in energy efficiency areas, such as installation of more efficient lighting, Energy Star-rated appliances and renewable heating and cooling, the report said. Another 15 percent was in the creation of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geo-thermal, representing the second-largest segment of clean-energy jobs.

The report concluded that the greatest growth areas within clean energy lie in research, innovation and new technology while there are still significant opportunities in alternative transportation and modernizing the power grid.

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Venture Creations wins clean-energy funding

Venture Creations, the high-tech incubator at the Rochester Institute of Technology, has won a four-year contract worth $1.8 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The money is earmarked for fledgling clean-energy companies; Venture Creations has worked with startup companies in wind, solar, biofuel, fuel cell technology as well as energy storage and smart grid initiatives.

“Venture Creations takes great pride in supporting clean-energy companies,” said Richard Notargiacomo, incubator director. “We have been working with these uniquely innovative and creative businesses for nearly nine years, and we have emerged as one of the premier incubators in the state for providing valuable resources and one-on-one coaching to those companies in this market.”

Twelve of the 38 companies that have graduated from Venture Creations have focused on clean energy.

“With this continued commitment from New York state,” Notargiacomo said, “we are fortunate to be able to continue to provide our clean-energy companies with the tools they need to help them advance their businesses, and produce a viable future that we can all feel good about.”

In a prepared statement, Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA, said, “Gov. Cuomo has made clean energy and job creation a priority, and New York’s incubators provide vital support for these efforts.”

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