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GCC will host wind energy forum February 18

By Philip Anselmo

From Genesee Community College:

Wind energy continues to be the talk of the town, but who knew that small towns in New York State hold the key to wind energy development? Community wind energy is an alternative model of wind energy development that puts the control of the process in the hands of the local community, rather than a corporate wind developer. Community wind is defined as a wind project that is developed and owned wholly, or partially, by an entity representing the local community. Community wind projects are specifically designed to provide benefits to the local community, including income and jobs. Community wind offers a solution to the wind project location and permit issues that have divided many communities all over New York State.

Genesee Community College is pleased to host a free Community Wind Forum on February 18 from 12:00 until 2:00 p.m. at the Batavia campus in room T102. The forum will be presented by Pace Energy and Climate Center, a program of Pace University. The forum will include a basic introduction to wind energy; a discussion of the Community wind model, including community organizing and project financing and ownership models; and a question and discussion period. The Community Wind Forum is free and community members, especially planners, municipal officials, and students are encouraged to attend.

Featured speakers include Loren Pruskowski, founder and current vice president of finance and director of community wind operations at Sustainable Energy Developments, Inc. (SED), and a principal organizer of the community wind effort in Knox, Albany County; and Todd Olinsky-Paul, energy policy analyst with Pace Energy & Climate Center, who has studied wind energy location issues and the role of communities and municipalities in wind energy development.

Community wind projects are needed in New York State. New York has implemented a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that requires 25% of electricity sold in the state to come from renewable sources by 2013. In addition, New York is a "home rule" state which means each town is empowered by the state to write its own zoning laws. These laws determine how land within the town can be used. Each town decides whether to allow windmills, and how to regulate them. These factors make community wind a promising model for New York.

Participants in the forum will learn what goes into the various phases of community wind development, including resource assessment, project feasibility studies, community organizing, project finance, design and construction, and operations and maintenance. Speakers will also discuss community wind development work that has been performed in other parts of the state, and the economics of community wind, including different financing and ownership models. Anyone interested in developing a wind project in their own community is encouraged to attend and ask questions.

"We are pleased to be able to discuss an alternative model for wind energy development, and a new, local development opportunity for the Genesee Valley region," Todd Olinsky-Paul of Pace Energy & Climate Center said. "As New York State pursues renewable energy solutions, the benefits and opportunities offered by Community Wind Energy are essential. We look forward to the conversation with Genesee Valley residents."

For further information, please contact Donna Rae Sutherland, associate director of Marketing Communications and co-chairman of Genesee Community College Environmental Task Force at 585-343-0055 x 6616.

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