March 14, 2010

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Energy alternatives discussed at symposium

Large attendance at green energy summit

NEW PALTZ – Upwards of 200 people packed the lecture hall at SUNY New Paltz on a rainy Saturday morning for an energy symposium held to bring municipalities and members of their communities together with state of the art energy technology and green solutions.

The symposium featured a panel of speakers with opening remarks from Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and brought numerous vendors of green energy solutions to the college campus to showcase their products and services.

“We are disseminating information on opportunities for municipalities on green energy development and putting people in the picture regarding what’s happening in public policy in New York State,” said Dr. Gerry Benjamin, who spoke on behalf of the Center for Research, Regional Education & Outreach. “We’re trying to encourage the adoption of alternative energy solutions, especially in municipalities.”

During his opening remarks Cahill told the crowd, “There is no question about it that energy will define the economies of the United States and the world for the 21st century.” He spoke in depth about the Green Jobs – Green New York initiative explaining that what we do now in New York State will dictate where we stand in this newly forming competitive market.

Cahill noted that through this initiative the state will stimulate thousands of jobs and a new green workforce, make over one million homes more energy efficient, enhance the state as a venue for the green energy market, and create a $5.5 billion economy for New York.

As part of Saturday’s events, Jackson Morris of the PACE Energy and Climate Center spoke about Property Assessed Clean Energy. He said that PACE essentially, “allows municipalities that choose to structure these programs to set up a revolving loan fund where they loan taxpayers in their municipal borders money to make energy efficiency installations and then pay that back on their property tax bill over a twenty year period.”

According to Morris, all municipalities must do to take advantage of this is pass an ordinance formally stating their position opting into the PACE program.

As an operator of one of New York’s emerging solar farms, New Paltz resident Anthony Sicari came to the symposium to gather information on funding opportunities. “The information here is very useful,” he said. “I think that for the first time the whole of New York State and the local municipalities are on the same page of funding for green jobs.”

He said that although the emphasis was primarily on the role of municipalities in going green, the benefits of available funding are absolutely passed down to the average citizen. “If the system that they’re going to put in their home is going to pay back within five years, I think that nobody has a problem with that, but if it’s long term, it’s difficult to burden them with anymore debt or raise their taxes.”

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