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The Times
  • Draft Cleaner Greener plan discussed

  • Education, economics and efficiency are the key components of actions that will help move the Mohawk Valley toward sustainable growth, Karen Sullivan, of the Otsego County Planning Department, told those who gathered at Herkimer County Community College Thursday to hear highlights of the draft of the New York State Cleaner, Greener Communities Mohawk Valley Regional Sustainability Plan.

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  • Education, economics and efficiency are the key components of actions that will help move the Mohawk Valley toward sustainable growth, Karen Sullivan, of the Otsego County Planning Department, told those who gathered at Herkimer County Community College Thursday to hear highlights of the draft of the New York State Cleaner, Greener Communities Mohawk Valley Regional Sustainability Plan.
    “If a project doesn’t make economic sense, it doesn’t make environmental sense,” added Robert Singer, a project manager with Ecology and Environment, a Lancaster-based firm hired to oversee the first phase of the plan’s development.
    Singer reviewed several case studies that were included in the report to give examples of projects that have already been or are close to being implemented.
    One was at Cooperstown Bat Company where owner Tim Haney installed a biomass heating system. The boiler can use multiple fuel sources including wood chips and sawdust and includes a propane back-up in case the primary fuel source is unavailable. Sawdust is a significant byproduct of the company’s manufacturing process and it is estimated the system will pay for itself in less than four years.
    Another example was adding trees along the streets in Rome to provide shade, improve air quality and increase property values.
    “They converted the value of urban trees to dollars and cents,” said Singer.
    A project to restore an 1861 building in Fort Plain and convert it to a community hall was an example of a project that would make use of an existing downtown building.
    Singer also cited the Gloversville Water Department’s Hydro Turbine project as an example. This project captures the energy produced by the system’s water flow to generate electricity while also supplying potable water. The Gloversville Water Department has cut electric purchases in half since the turbine became operational.
    Singer encouraged area residents to view the entire draft plan, which is available at the consortium’s website, www.sustainablemohawkvalley.com.
    Questions were raised about submitting ideas to be considered for grant funding.
    Sullivan said a regional sustainability planning group will be organized and it will be important to have a pool of idea ready when funds become available.
    Singer said creating a project summary form would allow for the submission of proposals and help the region be prepared to submit grant applications when funding becomes available. He noted there is often only a two-week window to apply for grants, making it difficult to respond in time.
    Diane Shoemaker, of the Genesis Group, commented after the meeting that she has appreciated the opportunity to meet with representatives from the other counties in the region.
    “The only way we’re going to move forward is to work together,” she said.
    The Cleaner, Greener Communities program was announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011 as a $100 million competitive grant program to encourage communities to develop regional sustainable growth strategies. The program is intended to provide the necessary resources for each Regional Economic Development Council area to develop a comprehensive sustainability plan.
    Page 2 of 2 - The program is being administered by the New York State Energy Research Development Authority.
    The Mohawk Valley Region, which includes Herkimer, Oneida, Otsego, Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties, was awarded $1 million for the initial phase of the project.
    The region’s plan is due to be submitted by the end of the month. In the second phase of the Cleaner, Greener Communities program, up to $90 million will be provided on a competitive basis statewide for implementation of projects that provide the greatest opportunities for achieving carbon reductions, energy efficiency savings and renewable energy deployment consistent with a region’s sustainability and economic development plans.
    The plan that results from this process will establish a statewide sustainability planning framework that will aid in statewide infrastructure investment decision making; outline specific actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with a goal of 80 percent carbon reductions by the year 2050; inform municipal land use policies; serve as a basis for local government infrastructure decision making; help guide infrastructure investment of public and private resources and provide each region with a sustainability plan that will enable them to identify and prioritize projects they submit for consideration to the implementation stage.
    The draft plan includes an inventory of the region’s greenhouse gas emissions from a report which estimated the total GHG emissions for 2010 in the Mohawk Valley region were estimated at 6.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, with transportation (44 percent), residential energy consumption (23 percent) and commercial energy consumption (15 percent) being the largest sectors contributing to that emissions total. While most of the electricity generated in the region is from renewable sources (98 percent), 86 percent of the electricity consumed is imported from other areas of the state. The plan seeks to identify goals and actions that will help grow the regional economy, improve communities and support local industry while reducing this overall GHG emissions total for the region.

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