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Consultant talks to mayors about energy efficiency, clean energy options

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MASSENA - A Ballston Lake consultant told local mayors there were funding sources if they wanted to look at energy efficiency and clean energy options for their communities.

Rick Handley, a principal at Rick Handley & Associates, outlined some of the options during a presentation to mayors as part of last week’s St. Lawrence Conference of Mayors meeting in Massena.

His company specializes in providing technical guidance, policy guidance and strategy, developing and delivering education and outreach programs, and assisting clients in developing renewable energy strategies. Their emphasis is on bioenergy technologies.

“Clients ask me to do a technical feasibility of new technology,” according to Mr. Handley, who has more than 30 years of experience in renewable energy and energy conservation and has worked at the New York state Energy Office and Coalition of Northeast Governors Policy Research Center.

He said he also works with many municipalities, most recently with the city of Watervliet on setting up a composting program and currently with the town of Chester on a heating system for their municipal building.

He said that questions about the future of energy are leading many municipalities to look at other sources.

“It’s a question mark because nobody really knows what the future is going to be,” Mr. Handley said.

“As we look at increasing prices... efficiency, conservation and clean air technology are going to be very important to us,” he said.

They would also help create new jobs, he said.

However, Mr. Handley pointed out, governments were facing “constrained budgets” and would have to come up with sources for the money needed to undertake a project.

Many of them were looking to the state and federal government for funding for their investments, he said.

“Programs currently exist and you might want to look at,” Mr. Handley suggested.

Programs are available through various sources, he said, including NYSERDA (the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), National Grid, New York Power Authority and USDA Rural Development, as well as private energy services companies.

NYSERDA’s programs are funded through a system benefits charge, money that’s collected from customers by the state’s six investor-owned electric utilities through a surcharge on customers’ bills.

“If you’re not paying (the SBC) then you can’t take advantage of these funds,” Mr. Handley said.

NYSERDA also had an audit program, he said, and municipalities are charged based on how much energy they’re currently using.

The National Grid program, Mr. Handley said, “is a little more attractive then the NYSERDA program.”

They offer a small business program that includes a free audit, along with incentives and financing, as well as a large business energy initiative program for existing facilities.

“They have people dedicating to doing audits and incentive programs,” he said.

NYPA also offers several programs including energy services programs for local government, energy services for water and wastewater facilities, clean transportation, “Green Zones” and “Green Buildings.”

“There’s a little more flexibility so you can decide what you want to do,” Mr. Handley said.

USDA Rural Develop offers community facilities grants and loan programs, as well as a rural utilities service.

Mr. Handley said that, for “do-it-yourself” technology such as lighting retrofits,NYSERDA, National Grid and NYPA program offerings are good.

“National Grid may have a slight dollar advantage,” he said.

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