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Ceremony planned for solar installation; Agriculture and Sustainability Committee meets

September 11, 2012

Sullivan County officials began discussing a proposed photovoltaic installation at the Robert B. Travis building about three years ago, the building in the Town of Liberty that houses the Sullivan County Department of Family Services.

In 2010, the county secured funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to pay for the installation of a 44.85 kw ground mounted solar electric photovoltaic (PV) system at the facility.

At a meeting of the Agriculture and Sustainability Policy Committee on September 6, Dick Riseling, the executive director of Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development, informed lawmakers that the system is fully constructed, but it’s not yet running, but that will happen in about three weeks. He asked the legislature to hold off on a ceremony until that time.

The PV system was one of several sustainability projects that were discussed at the meeting. Riseling also informed the board that the second meeting of the Climate Advisory Board would be held at the government center on September 13. The goal of the board is to create a climate action plan. It will do this by collecting data on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and will then “propose climate change actions for all sectors of the local economy, for all municipal governments and for the general public.”

Also discussed at the meeting was the upcoming Biomass Fuel Symposium, which will be held on September 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Liberty. Stephen Stuart, technical adviser for Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development(SASD), said about one third of the energy used in Sullivan County goes toward heating buildings, and the cost of that could be greatly reduced through the use of biomass fuels, such as grass pellets. He said facilities that have switched to biomass heating systems have reduced their heating bills by up to 75%. Further, he said, a move to biomass could be a new economic driver for area farmers and loggers in the county.