The Town and the Village of Geneseo have separately undertaken a series of programs to improve their clean energy policies. Each entity aims to use these initiatives to apply for grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Both the Village and Town are part of the Clean Energy Communities Program sponsored by NYSERDA. Through the program, which any New York municipal community can apply to, governments are required to institute four out of 10 specific High Impact Action Items in order to qualify for grants, according to Geneseo Town Supervisor William Wadsworth.
The first locality in each region defined by the program may qualify for as much as $100,000 to implement a clean energy initiative. The next eight communities can receive $50,000, according to Mayor of the Village of Geneseo Richard Hatheway.
The Town’s completed initiatives include reporting buildings’ energy use, establishing a unified permit for community members to use when they want solar panels and training the town code officer to administer energy laws more effectively, according to Wadsworth. The last of the actions the Town plans to undertake is to institute an electric car-charging station, although the logistics have created some internal disagreements on the Town of Geneseo Board, according to Wadsworth.
“Our long-term goal for achieving some of this grant money is to build a new building for our municipal government,” Wadsworth said. “Currently we’re in a long and slender building so … it’s kind of like working in a submarine. We think we can be in a smaller space and run more efficiently with a solar component and smaller carbon footprint to set an example for the rest of the community.”
Hatheway explained that the Village has completed three of the four minimum actions required to qualify for any funding. Like the Town, the Village was able to begin measuring the energy output of government buildings and to streamline the applications community members fill out to acquire solar panels, according to Hatheway. The Village also placed an electric car-charging station behind the Village government building, which was donated by the Genesee Region Clean Communities program. The last planned measure to qualify is to certify the Village code officer in energy code enforcement.
Other High Impact Actions Items New York municipal communities can implement include achieving a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in buildings and campaigning to increase solar panel usage in the area.
“We’re pretty happy with where we are right now,” Hatheway said. “We’re much further than we were even six months ago. We’d like to get a couple more of these actions done soon.”
If the Village receives grant money from the state, it would buy and replace the approximately 400 street lamps that reside in the Village with more energy efficient and cost-effective LED lamps, according to Hatheway. Currently, Rochester Gas & Electric owns the street lamps and uses a more costly, high-pressured sodium bulb.
Wadsworth believes that green energy efforts are especially important in the region in order to take care of the area’s natural resources.
“We mostly want to be sure to protect our natural assets because that’s what we have out here,” Wadsworth said. “We don’t really get a lot of input from the community, we don’t hear from people saying we’ve got to do better on green energy. If we can build a sustainable project and show that it’s cost effective and it really works, perhaps that would lead people when they build a home to think more along those lines.”u