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December 1, 2016 - 2:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in solar energy, GCC, education, batavia, news.

Press release:

With courses spanning the fields of accounting to veterinary technology, criminal justice to communications, sports management to supply chain management, healthcare to human services-- and many more, the spring 2017 semester at Genesee Community College offers something for everyone! Register now to ensure your seat! Classes begin Tuesday, January 17, 2017.

One of GCC's newest courses is Introduction to Solar Manufacturing (CHE193) taught by Dr. Brian Fraser, assistant professor of chemistry. The new course provides overview of the solar manufacturing industry including the latest technology, production and the growing market for the newest high tech industry that promises to bring hundreds of new jobs to Western New York. Students will understand where and how the new local companies, Solar City and 1366 Technologies, fit within the solar industry and landscape. Through this course, students can explore if this may be a new career opportunity for them, and if so, the best pathway to pursue it.

"Anyone interested in solar energy and science will find this course very helpful. There will be enough information to help students appreciate careers in nanotechnology and other sciences, and understand the emerging developments in the solar industry. It is also a great general education elective with a focus on the future," Fraser said. "The hybrid format of the course also provides some flexibility with in-class and online requirements."

There is no prerequisite for CHE193, which meets Wednesdays from 1:25 – 2:45 p.m.at the Batavia campus starting January 17 and running through May 13. Additionally, Professor Fraser will use a variety of freely accessible resources that include up-to-date information, rather than requiring purchase of a textbook.

GCC offers more than 70 degree and certificate programs, including over 15 degrees that can be completed 100% online. Most degree and certificate programs feature online or hybrid courses and at least 50% of each program can be completed online without attending class at a campus center location. In addition, every course in GCC's Computer Information and Networking Technology program offers at least one section that uses the 360 degree learning model enabling students to learn anytime, anywhere and on any device. The instructors in these courses deliver two-way, interactive instruction in the classroom and/or online through personal computers, laptops, tablets and other smart communication devices. All course material is recorded and stored in the cloud allowing students to review and revisit a class lecture for clarification.

"Without a doubt, GCC remains at the cutting edge of new teaching and learning opportunities," Dr. Rafael Alicea-Maldonado (Dr. RAM), dean of Math, Science and Career Education said. "We hope anyone who is even remotely considering college education will contact us soon. There are so many great and affordable options."

No matter what industry or field, regardless of age and educational background, and irrespective of geography due to GCC's many online courses and seven campus locations-this spring semester is the time to enroll in a course at GCC. The spring semester starts Tuesday, January 17, 2017. To review the class schedule which features hundreds of courses, go to: http://www.genesee.edu/courses/schedule/

November 15, 2016 - 1:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in solar energy, news.

Local legislators are still grappling with whether solar power should be part of county government's energy future.

The topic has come up before, first when Solar City offered a proposal that legislators decided too heavily favored Solar City's interests, and then when consultants from Wendel Energy were interviewed for a possible consulting contract.

Wendel isn't a solar contractor, and wouldn't build any solar installation, but it can do the initial study to help the county determine the best potential location, the cost benefits and potential expense pitfalls.

Representatives from Wendel -- Adam Tabelski, Sam Marotta and Keith Krug -- met again with the Public Service Committee on Monday to discuss a possible contract for a feasibility study.

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens, himself an engineer, said he thought hiring a consultant like Wendel made a lot of sense.

"There are so many pieces," Hens said. "You have a lot of pieces that are really complex and outside of our staff's expertise."

Whether a solar installation could save the county money and help reduce energy costs is something Wendel would have to figure out, based on the size and location of the installation and the county's energy needs.

The committee concluded the discussion with, basically, "we'll think about it."

Areas of concern raised by members of the Legislature include the cost of interconnection with National Grid, whether technology installed now will be outdated in a few years, and whether a solar farm is the best option compared to rooftop installations.

Legislator Bob Bausch said he heard that Orleans County started down the path of a solar installation, but found National Grid's interconnection fees too expensive.

Krug said the interconnection fees weren't really the issue in Orleans County. The decision to drop the project had more to do with tight deadlines for grants to help fund the project.

Marotta said one issue they've seen come up in other jurisdictions is that contractors bid for a solar project, but to help keep the bid low, underestimate the interconnection fees, but then when National Grid comes back later with the actual cost of interconnection, the contractor informs the local government the cost of the installation has gone up.

This can turn some projects from profitable to unprofitable.

Wendel's practice is to try and accurately estimate National Grid's fees, and since Wendel isn't the contractor for the project, has nothing to gain by underestimating that cost.

A potential location for a county-owned solar farm is just north of the airport and Legislator Shelly Stein wondered whether that's really a better option than rooftop installation.

Marotta said he generally recommends a solar farm approach because it's cheaper to install and cheaper to maintain, especially when older roofs are involved.

"For simplicity sake, if you have the land available, we recommend land," Marotta said. "It's easier to maintain. It's a weed wacker instead of a roofer."

Stein also noted that Solar City's Elon Musk recently announced plans to develop roof tiles that double as solar panels and wondering if that would be an option.

That technology isn't yet in the market and Hens noted that, yes technology is going to change, but waiting to do someting would be akin to not buying office computers in the 1990s because technology was going to change.

July 19, 2016 - 1:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in solar farms, land use, solar energy, agriculture, news.

Local municipalities with farmland should consider whether they want to address the issue of a zoning code for solar farms, Genesee County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari told members of the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board at last night's meeting.

There are a couple of companies who have approached local landowners, Oltramari said, and if towns in the area want solar farms within their borders, they need to address it with a zoning code change and then decide how to regulate the farms.

Towns that do nothing, that currently have no permitted use for solar farms, will be deciding by default not to allow solar farms in those jurisdictions, Oltramari said.

If a land use isn't expressly mentioned in the local zoning code than it is completely prohibited.

Only the Town of Batavia has created provisions for solar farms, and it's a pretty bare-bones code at this point, Oltramari said.

The Town of Batavia took the action after SunEdison approached a local landowner about building a solar farm. An attorney representing SunEdison attended a couple of town meetings, but there's been no apparent progress with SunEdison since then and currently SunEdison is going through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Since then, no other town has moved forward with solar farm zoning, but the Town of Oakfield is considering a solar farm on its land adjacent to its wastewater treatment plan and the Town of Alabama is considering a solar farm for the retired quarry in the town. 

"I think that’s a perfect use for that, too," Oltramari said.

The Town of Batavia is also looking into a solar farm on its former landfill.

The big issue for agricultural land, however, is that a solar farm would take the land out of crop production.

Agriculture average typically leases for about $60 a year and solar companies will pay $1,500 per acre per year for 20 years.

"This has alarmed farmers that rely on rented land for their operations," Oltramari said.

Companies looking to set up solar farms are typically looking for 20-acre parcels and they must be within two miles of a power substation.

Donn Branton, chairman of the Farmland Protection Board, thinks landowners should look carefully at any deal offered by a solar company.

"The frosting sounds pretty good, but the cake batter seems to get pretty messy," Branton said. 

There's a two-year planning process and the company decides what part of your farm it wants, he said, and then during construction they decide where the roads go.

"They pretty much have the run of your farm," he said. 

And taking the land out of production could cause it to be reclassified as commercial property rather than farmland, increasing the property tax rate. 

'It's something you want to investigate thoroughly with a legal service," Branton said. "$1,500 sounds great, but then you've got all the stipulations that go with it."

Oltramari recommended that towns -- and potentially landowners -- address issues such as preserving topsoil and herbicide use (in the event the land ever reverts to food production).

Zoning could also be used to limit the location and size of solar farms, buffer zones and visual screening.

Typically, in this area, solar companies are looking for 20-acre farms that produce two to four megawatts of energy.

One megawatt of solar energy could power 165 homes.

An energy generation facility (solar or wind) that produces more than 25 megawatts is exempt from local zoning laws, but such a farm in Western New York would need 125 to 200 acres of land, so Oltramari doesn't foresee such a farm coming to Genesee County.

January 8, 2015 - 6:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, solar energy.

The idea of solar power for county government certainly brought a gleam to the eye of members of the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, but in the end, a proposal by Solar City didn't exactly light up their lives.

The committee voted unanimously to reject a proposal that could have saved the county more than a quarter of its $500,000 annual electricity bill. 

The short-term cost savings looked good, but the long-term and potentially unknown consequences seemed daunting.

Legislator and Committee Chairman Bob Bausch worried about Solar City going bankrupt, and without some sort of bond to protect the county's financial liability, taxpayers could be left holding the bag on a nine-acre solar farm the county had no ability to maintain.

"We would have to clean up their mess," Bausch said.

County Attorney Chuck Zambito said Bausch was essentially right.

"It would be their responsibility, but if they go bankrupt, there would be no way to enforce it," Zambito said.

Legislator Maryanne Clattenburg was concerned that 20 years was too long to lock the county into technology that looks good today but may quickly become obsolete. She said she was especially concerned because the company seems so dependent on government grants, which could dry up in a few years.

"When I think of my phone 20 years ago, or I think of my computer 20 years ago -- I just think it's too long of a time to be tied into one technology," Clattenburg said.

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens expressed concern that the state, which would help finance the project, might eventually reduce the amount of compensation the county would get for hosting the solar farm.

He also noted that the county may yet need to build a new jail and the proposed location of the farm -- nine acres off West Main Street Road, Batavia, next to County Building #2, might be a prime location for a new jail. Putting a solar farm on that land would potentially drive up the cost of a new jail if the county had to purchase nine acres elsewhere.

Solar City would get use of the nine acres to generate electricity to sell to National Grid tax free, legislators noted.

County Manager Jay Gsell said the county also looked at land at the County Airport, but found FAA regulations would prohibit any possible configuration the county could use because of glare, glide path and safety zone issues.

Hens said other companies have contacted the county about solar power and in rejecting the Solar City deal, which the county had to act on by mid-February, the county keeps its options open.

January 25, 2013 - 4:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, business, GCEDC, solar energy.

Arista Power and the Genesee County Economic Development Center will be having FREE educational workshops on solar energy and how the Solarize Genesee program works.

Solar energy, the installation process, financing, and a variety of other topics regarding solar energy will be covered.

The workshops are open to all of the community. Solarize Genesee is a new community solar program that is offering solar buyers a discount by bulk purchasing as a community. The more solar systems that are purchased, the more the cost will go down for everyone!

The education workshop schedule follows:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 5, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at GCEDC, Room 214
  • Thursday, Feb. 7, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at GCEDC, Room 214
  • Monday, Feb. 11, from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. at Batavia Town Hall
  • Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at GCEDC, Room 214
August 27, 2009 - 2:00pm

mail-1.jpegMembers of Beta Alpha Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma (DKG), a Genesee County society for women educators, met this summer for a personal/ professional growth activity at the historic Adams Basin Inn (between Brockport and Spencerport).

Innkeepers David and Pat Haines served lunch in the tavern dining room, then graciously allowed the ladies to tour their nearly 200-year-old home which they operate as a bed and breakfast.  David, a former teacher, gave a witty and fascinating history of the structure that was built along the Erie Canal as a bar and general store; in fact, the Adams Basin Inn has the only known original bar-room left in existence along the 363-mile-long waterway.   Meticulously restored and updated, the Adams Basin Inn is a frequent stop for bicyclists along the Canal towpath.

Blended into the charm of the old is the efficiency of the new:  the Inn is using the latest in solar technology with 18 state-of-the-art solar modules and a power inverter.  The system is capable of producing over 4,000 kilowatts of electric per year and will produce clean, solar generated power over its 30-year projected lifecycle.  This renewable energy system will offset approximately 40% of the Inn's electrical needs -- and its environmentally friendly!

In the photo, DKG members enjoy perusing artifacts during Mr. Haines' informative talk.

July 16, 2009 - 4:03pm

Katrina Irwin will air a story tonight on Channel 8 Rochester bewteen 5:30-6:00 PM about Dick Gammell's Big Green Dog House that is on display at this year's Homerama in Victor.  You read about it first here last week at thebatavian.com!

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