INSPIRING ENERGY INITIATIVES: THE PRIVATE SECTOR

BRSC, SUNY BEST and our partners in the community are looking to leverage clean energy development to  accelerate economic development progress for Greater Binghamton and the Southern Tier. This series has brought a wide array of expertise, talent, vision and experience to the local stage. (You can find videos and more information about the series at www.sunybest.binghamton.edu).

The panelists for our final program in March possess decades worth of experience in the energy field.  This diverse group of speakers brought to life their work on innovative energy initiatives in the private sector. Adam Flint from the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition and Melissa Kemp from Solar Tompkins reviewed big picture changes in New York’s growing solar market, then focused in on ‘solarize’ programs in the Southern Tier, past, present and future, that are bringing our solar market to the next level while creating jobs and building residential energy independence. Mauricio Vargas from Lockheed Martin discussed several projects Lockheed Martin and partner Concord Blue are executing to advance how the world addresses clean energy and waste reduction challenges. Chris Kopec from McFarland Johnson spoke about the Greater Binghamton Airport’s Geothermal heating Project. Matthew Rankin introduced the Sunvestment Group’s innovative online platform that aims to bridge the finance gap in the mid-market solar industry

In February, more than 75 were in attendance for the third program in our series, titled “Inspiring Energy Initiatives: The Public and Nonprofit Sectors.” The panel of speakers representing public and nonprofit sectors from throughout the Southern Tier included:

  • Guy Hallgren, director of municipal utilities for Bath Electric Gas & Water Systems. Topic: Converting waste to energy and deploying a smart grid for the Village of Bath in the Southern Tier.
  • Sandy DeJohn, utilities manager and campus sustainability coordinator at Binghamton University. Topic: Binghamton University’s lighting upgrade projects.
  • Mark Howe, campus energy manager; Erin Moore, sustainability engagement manager; and Sarah Zemanick, director of campus sustainability, all at Cornell University. Topic: Cornell University’s initiatives in energy reduction, renewable energy supplies and culture change.
  • Bernie McDermott, director of operations and transportation at Chenango Forks School District. Topic: Solar energy in the K-12 environment.

Our January event, which took place at the Huron Campus in Endicott, featured Greg Hale, Senior Advisor to Chairman of Energy & Finance of the office of the Governor. His presentation focused on Renewable Heat NY -­ NYSERDA’s new advanced technology biothermal initiative; Clean Energy Financing alternatives, including New York Green Bank, NYPA municipal financing, Commercial PACE and Green Jobs Green NY; and a new focus on bringing clean energy opportunities to low-­moderate income customers.

John Markowitz of the New York Power Authority (NYPA) showcased K-­Solar, a joint NYPA/NYSERDA program focused on bringing solar power to schools and surrounding communities; EE, Inc., a program that provides opportunities to pilot new technologies in State and municipal buildings, to assist with commercialization; and NYPA’s new municipal customer solutions initiative.

Our inaugural session in December featured NYSERDA President John Rhodes and the New York Winter Statewide Energy Tour, an interactive, informational session designed to increase awareness of New York State’s clean energy policies and community aggregation initiatives including NY Prize.

NY Prize is a first-in-the-nation $40 million competition to enlist communities to advance plans for local power infrastructure in the form of micro-grids, designed to promote clean energy, reliability, resiliency, and affordability. It is part of New York’s comprehensive effort to build a cleaner, more resilient, and affordable infrastructure. These coordinated and complementary activities include Reform Energy Vision (REV), NY Green Bank, the Clean Energy Fund (CEF) and The NY-Sun Initiative. This trailblazing approach is designed to rapidly integrate clean energy — promoting more efficient use of energy, deeper penetration of renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, and wider deployment of “distributed” energy resources, such as microgrids, on-site power supplies, and storage. It will highlight potential partnership and investment opportunities for regional businesses and discuss ways communities can reduce energy costs, promote clean energy and help build a more resilient, reliable, and affordable energy infrastructure.

This presentation highlighted potential partnership and investment opportunities for regional businesses and discuss ways communities can reduce energy costs, promote clean energy and help build a more resilient, reliable, and affordable energy infrastructure.

[For Print Distribution] SUNY BEST March Flyer

BRSC & NY Energy Democracy Working Group respond to Governor Cuomo’s Economic Development challenge after the Fracking Ban Announcement.

Binghamton, NY. The Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition (BRSC) and our NY Energy Democracy Working Group partners across the state applaud Governor Cuomo’s ban on fracking that denied a false solution to climate change from taking root in New York. The decision was based on a concern for the health of New York’s residents, the protection of our water system, and the lack of clear and strong economic opportunities that fracking could provide given the social costs.   And it is a lesson we hope resonates across the nation –any supposed solution to climate change or economic development that would compromise our health and wellbeing is no solution at all.

Within this ban, Governor Cuomo charged New Yorkers with a critical task: Find the alternative economy that can help build and sustain communities that have long-faced economic disinvestment and depression – from the Southern Tier to environmental justice communities in New York City.

The good news is, New Yorkers already have the answer. Residents and communities across the state are clamoring for a climate resilient, racially equitable, and economically just energy system that is rooted in locally owned renewable energy projects. From district-wide energy efficiency and solar projects led by people of color in the Bronx to community-owned wind projects in Tompkins County and green development zones rooted in low-income communities in Buffalo, New Yorkers have the models that can help spur innovation and investment in local economies.

To bring all of these projects to an impactful scale, we need to invest in community capacity, policies and funding that prioritize efficiency and renewable projects in economically stressed communities vulnerable to climate change. We must create a pathway for communities left behind in our current energy policy — those with the highest energy insecurity and the least access to the state’s current regime of energy programs — by creating an integrated pathway from energy efficiency retrofit readiness to community controlled on-site renewable generation.

As we celebrate Governor Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking — and the incredibly strong, courageous and uncompromising movement that won it — we need to seize this momentous opportunity to answer the Governor’s challenge and make these models and ideas a reality. The anti-fracking movement bubbled up from local communities across the state – from towns and cities that declared their democratic right to control their own energy future. The solutions to our climate and economic crises are similarly emerging.

  • We can look for leadership from Catskill Mountainkeeper, the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, PUSH Buffalo and the Central NY Regional Planning and Development Board, who were among the recipients of funds to help move the state towards community lead solar adoption.
  • We can learn from community-based organizations across the state who promote residential home energy improvement through the Green Jobs Green New York program and have lessons to teach about how New York can accelerate energy efficiency retrofit programs in low-income communities.
  • We can work with Citizens for Local Power and Vote Solar, whose efforts just last week won key decisions from state regulators that could pave the way for Community Choice Aggregation and Community Solar
  • We can look to the leadership of AGREE to engage with the Clean Energy fund and Reforming the Energy Vision proceedings underway at the Public Service Commission to demand adequate funding for and community involvement in clean energy projects, with some resources particularly earmarked for environmental justice, climate vulnerable, and economically disadvantaged communities so they can shape their energy future with the right capacity and tools.
  • We can use models developed by PUSH-Buffalo and Center for Social Inclusion to demand that local towns and cities create Green Development Zones or Energy Investment Districts that would allow New York’s most vulnerable communities to lead and participate in the planning and financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Today, we celebrate the Governor’s decision. And tomorrow, emboldened by this victory for energy democracy, we will answer the Governor’s call for solutions that protect our health and environment while creating economic prosperity for New York’s most vulnerable communities.

About the Energy Democracy Working Group:

The Energy Democracy Working Group members currently include:

Alliance for a Green Economy: www.allianceforagreeneconomy.org

Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition: http://binghamtonsustainability.org

Catskill Mountainkeeper: www.catskillmountainkeeper.org

Center for Social Inclusion: www.centerforsocialinclusion.org

Solutions Project: http://thesolutionsproject.org

Syracuse United Neighbors: http://www.sunaction.org/

Pratt Center for Community Development: http://prattcenter.net

PUSH Buffalo: www.pushbuffalo.org

For more information on the Renewable NY project, please visit: www.renewableny.com

BRSC, Renewable NY Awarded 1.8m Grant to Bring Community Solar & Energy Efficiency to the Southern Tier, Catskills and Hudson Valley

Binghamton, NY. The Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition (BRSC) is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a grant of $1.8 million from the State of New York to participate in a collaborative project to increase energy conservation and solar penetration in the Southern Tier and Mid-Hudson regions.  Our lead partners in this project are Catskill Mountainkeeper, Sustainable Hudson Valley, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCET), each of which brings extensive experience in conservation, renewable energy promotion and sustainable community development.  The funding will come from Phase II of the Cleaner, Greener Communities (CGC) Program, within the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and is being awarded through Round IV of Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative.

In 2014 BRSC launched Southern Tier Solar Works, the first community solar program in our region, which succeeded in more than doubling the number of installations in Broome and Tioga Counties. This initiative, which will be repeated in four eastern southern tier counties this spring, was part of the Renewable NY program.

Catskill Mountainkeeper launched Renewable NY to tackle the increasingly urgent need for communities to shift their energy consumption towards sources that are clean, efficient, and renewable.  In early 2014 we launched RenewableNY.com, a central resource for information and actions that can be taken to advance renewable energy in New York State. The statewide program also facilitates partnerships between local non-profit organizations and community leaders to advance community-based projects, including solar bulk-purchasing campaigns that encourage the purchase of residential and small business solar installations. These educational and action-oriented campaigns have been proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create economic growth in the renewable energy sector.

“Renewable NY Southeast” is a three-year, multifaceted, flagship project and bi-regional partnership between the four anchor community organizations, and is intended to raise public awareness about the benefits of and opportunities for solar, as well as to remove market barriers to increased solar installation.  By aggregating hundreds of sign-ups for of solar installations in a short time-frame, a campaign of this sort can bring the cost per installation down from $20,000 to $4,000.

The project’s main components will include an education and awareness campaign, a group purchasing program, and a work force development partnership with local educational and training institutions. Each of these initiatives is envisioned as a scalable and replicable model that can be implemented in other regions of New York going forward.

In the Southern Tier, BRSC and CCET will include energy efficiency as an integral part of the program, and will be promoting energy improvements for commercial applications, including for schools, businesses, municipalities and non-profits, as well as industrial scale solar on roofs, parking lot awnings, brownfields and floodplains. BRSC, in partnership with SUNY Best, the offices of Assemblymembers Donna Lupardo and Clifford Crouch and a growing list of co-sponsors, have organized a four part series “Energy Projects that Get Results”, which opened on December 4 with the NYSERDA winter tour featuring President and CEO John Rhodes, and will continue on January 8 with Greg Hale from the Governors Energy Office and John Markowitz from the New York Power Authority (NYPA). Details on this program at http://ceo.binghamton.edu/sunybest/

Catskill Mountainkeeper will administer and manage the project, and will collaborate on marketing and community-based outreach with the two regional teams in the Mid-Hudson and Southern Tier. Sustainable Hudson Valley will implement the outreach plan in the Mid-Hudson counties of Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Rockland, Putnam and Sullivan. BRSC and Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County will lead outreach efforts in Broome, Delaware, Tioga, Chenango, Tompkins, Steuben, Chemung and Schuyler counties.  All four organizations will work with partnering educational institutions in the development of a Clean Energy Technology Training Consortium to increase opportunities for solar and other renewable energy-related job training in both target regions. Additional partners at the county and local levels will be engaged where possible and appropriate.

“This is a tremendous step forward for communities in the Southern Tier, Catskills and Hudson Valley towards a renewable energy economy. We greatly appreciate the support and bold leadership of the Cuomo Administration as we work to create a new energy future for New York.” - Betta Broad, Project Manager, Climate & Energy, Catskill Mountainkeeper 

“The last six months have brought a dramatic shift in public attitudes about the urgency of climate change and the solid realism of solar solutions right now.  The time is perfect to build on the people-to-people energy outreach that is already going on in our region.  We have been working with focus and frugality to develop the methods and connections to carry out this campaign.  This investment in our work is just thrilling,” - Melissa Everett, Executive Director of Sustainable Hudson Valley

“After four years of successfully promoting solar and energy efficiency on a shoestring, we now will have the resources to demonstrate the value of a clean energy economy for job creation, economic development and environmental protection across the Southern Tier. Together with our partners in government, business, education, and community-based organizations across our two regions and around the state, we will use best practices to aggressively build New York’s energy sector to be the best in the nation. After a series of major weather disasters culminating in superstorm sandy, we are ready to make our contribution to rolling back global warming, even as we build prosperity and a better quality of life for future generations.” - Adam Flint, Southern Tier Solar Works Project Manager at the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition

“Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County is pleased to partner with Catskill Mountainkeeper to provide renewable energy education and outreach across the Southern Tier. It is imperative that we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and we are excited to have the opportunity to widely share the benefits of solar energy as we work together towards a more sustainable future.” - Sharon K. Anderson, Environment Team Leader, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County 

Southern Tier Solar Works

Contact: Adam Flint, Southern Tier Solar Works Program Manger at the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition
flint@igc.org
607-761-8337

 

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County

Contact: Sharon K. Anderson, Environment Team Leader
ska2@cornell.edu
607-272-2292

 

Catskill Mountainkeeper – Renewable NY

Contact: Betta Broad, Program Manager Energy & Climate
betta@catskillmountainkeeper.org
607-222-3678

 

Sustainable Hudson Valley

Contact: Melissa Everett, Executive Director
everett@sustainhv.org
845-514-8567

BRSC: Building Local Living Communities For Today and Tomorrow

Building a brighter future is a fun and rewarding experience. BRSC offers a unique opportunity to become involved and to make your special contribution to the vision of a revitalized Binghamton region. We welcome your support and interest.

About Us

The Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition (BRSC) was formed in mid-2008 following a series of community forums on sustainability and a community visioning session. Hosting monthly meetings and frequent educational forums, BRSC currently connects with many local organizations and with approximately 1500 individuals through its events, list serves and Facebook.

BRSC has established itself as a resource for information about gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale and the potential impacts on our community’s environment, economy, and health and its members continue to provide valuable contributions in this area.

BRSC is ALSO leading the following four major initiatives:

Many Hands Food Cooperative

A community-owned grocery store that will help us feed our families healthy food, support local farms, and create local jobs. (Read more…)

Southern Tier Solar Works

STWS will make solar energy accessable to residents, businesses, muncipalities and schools across the region. Our goals are to create lasting local jobs, put energy dollars back in the hands of residents and businesses, and demonstrate our shared commitment to the natural environment, while making our region a NY State solar leader. (Read more…)

Be Local Broome

Be Local Broome is a regional Buy Local network organized and sponsored by the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition (BRSC) that connects locally owned member businesses and organizations with residents, promotes a 10% shift in local spending by building a $5 Million Be Local Broome brand to help strengthen the local economy and advance a vibrant economy that values everyone.  (Read more…)

Transforming Binghamton Collaboration

A group dedicated to pursuing community development based on proven models of anchor institution engagement and the application of scientific principles and methodologies, which result in transformative improvements in the well-being of all. (Read more…)