Clean Energy Resources Information Committee

Chairman of ad hoc committee to explore clean energy initiatives in the city of Byron sees the municipality’s Clean Energy Community designation by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority as a springboard for further action .

Now all she has to do is get the support of the city council.

“By completing the five actions required by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the City of Byron has been awarded a $5,000 grant to help with future clean energy initiatives,” said said Candace Hensel today. “We are looking to use the money to carry out other high-impact actions that will help us move forward in the CEC program.”

Hensel is the driving force behind the Clean Energy Resources Information Committee, an informal group that reports monthly to city council. Active members include Kaitlyn Moucha, Sara Stockwell and Brian Stacy. Other townspeople participate, depending on the project.

Action items completed by the city to receive the CEC designation are benchmarking, energy code enforcement training, adoption of a unified solar permit, and an LED conversion of streetlights in the city. town. Hensel said he was credited with a fifth action item for advanced benchmarking.

Points are awarded for each of the 14 action items identified by NYSERDA, with grant amounts based on the number of points.

The City of Byron now joins the City of Batavia and the Village of Bergen as NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities. Other municipalities in Genesee County participating in the program are Corfu Village, Pembroke Town and Batavia Town.

Hensel said her “eyes were opened” to what was happening in New York State on clean energy when she heard about the 280-megawatt Excelsior Energy solar project in the city of Byron.

“I had tried to get the city to look at some of the incentives available to communities, but I really haven’t done anything with the city, so – about two years ago – I created a petition and got a list of names of other people who at least thought the city should look into some of these programs,” she said.

Eventually, the city council authorized Hensel to chair a committee (CERIC) to explore the possibility of attracting grants to help community clean energy projects.

Hensel said she felt much better about forming a group and pursuing clean energy opportunities knowing she had the support of the city council.

“In New York State, from the perspective of the Governor and the trickle down effect on DEC and NYSERDA and then on the utilities, they are all required to participate – to some degree – and comply with a lot of these clean energy programs that have been passed,” she said.

Hensel said CERIC failed to receive funding from Excelsior Energy solar project stakeholders, but that hasn’t deterred the group from its goal of “investigating the incentives and reporting back to the city.” with our recommendations for participating (in the Clean Energy program of communities) and the benefits of doing so.

“The city council listens to our report every month but overall they feel their capacity is limited or they can’t devote the time to it; so, we are stuck,” she said. “They let us continue with the Clean Energy Communities program, however, and no city funds were spent on this CEC designation.”

She said CERIC is also studying the Climate Smart Communities program administered by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“The benefits of participating in the DEC program are much greater,” she said. “Incentive grants are much larger, with up to 50% funding for large clean energy projects. So we see that the carrot at the end of the stick is much larger.

Hensel said CERIC asked the city council to vote to join the Climate Smart Communities program “because all the actions we’ve taken in one, we can apply to the other.”

“Representatives from the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Board made a presentation to council and a resolution was passed, but at this council meeting no one seconded the motion to continue voting for this particular program” , she said.

CERIC is not giving up on that, however, as it plans to recontact the board on the DEC program next month.

City Supervisor Peter Yasses said CERIC must report its recommendations and proposals to the board but cannot “make any commitments”, while City Councilman Eric Zuber said his concerns relate to the conditions for receiving grants, particularly those that provide that the city must match the funds for a particular project.

“There are a lot of bells and whistles – hoops that you have to go through,” Zuber said. “Everything we do has to make sense for the city in the long term.”

Hensel said the committee is currently involved in a clean heating and cooling campaign in conjunction with Pathstone and the GFLRPC that began in April at the Genesee County Home Show.

“They are following up to complete the energy audits and roll them into the Heat Smart Finger Lakes North program,” she said. “Hopefully people will sign up with a contractor, who will assess their homes and make recommendations on heat pumps or geothermal and to see if anyone wants to know more about those and the tax credits that accompany them.

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