PLATTSBURGH — The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has awarded $1 million to North Country members of the Cleaner, Greener Communities Program.
The consortium of North Country counties, towns and organizations will use the money to create a “smart growth” plan for regional sustainability in both environmental and economic areas.
The Cleaner, Greener Communities Program was announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his 2011 State of the State address.
Only one award was made in each region of the state. This region’s consortium is led by representatives of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties. Essex County is the municipal sponsor for the North Country’s Cleaner Greener Communities initiative.
The Adirondack North Country Association and Ecology and Environment Inc. will provide consulting support by organizing stakeholder engagement and the technical expertise required to undertake a greenhouse-gas inventory, develop sustainability indicators and identify projects to be included in the plan.
The goal is to meet targets for greenhouse-gas reductions and economic growth.
Reports to the state are required over the eight-month project timeframe.
Clarkson University President Anthony Collins, co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, said the North Country is a special place to visit, live, work and study because of its people and their stewardship of the environment.
“Governor Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities Program supports the North Country Regional Economic Development Council’s goal to create the greenest energy economy in the state,” he said in a press release.
“This initiative gives each region the ability to identify projects that will help communities become stronger and more resilient, as well as promote and enhance local business. We have a distinct opportunity to use emerging technologies and encourage innovative entrepreneurs to create new jobs that will sustain our environment under this plan.”
TIES TO ECONOMIC PLAN
North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, also co-chair of the Economic Development Council, said the initiative is an important part of the implementation of this region’s economic-development plan.
“The development of renewable energy, such as biomass, hydro and wind, is a key strategy, and the funding secured from NYSERDA will be the first step toward defining and pursuing a road map for converting opportunity into economic progress,” he said.
Adirondack North Country Association Executive Director Kate Fish said people across the North Country have been working on these issues for nearly 10 years, volunteering time and resources to understand and develop plans for improving our energy economy and building more sustainable communities.
“It is deeply exciting to now be able to bring these efforts together under a single planning effort that will consolidate all the work that has been done, and support innovative projects that make jobs, reduce our energy costs, and create more resilient and self-reliant economies,” she said. “ANCA is honored to be a partner in this visionary project for the region and the state.”
MAKE A PLAN
The development of the plan is the first phase of Cleaner, Greener Communities and is intended to provide resources that each region can use to develop its own vision, goals and objectives for a sustainable future, identify actions needed to achieve that future and outline metrics to measure success.
NYSERDA President and CEO Francis Murray Jr. said the funding is an excellent opportunity for the North Country to develop a plan that improves environmental quality by reducing air, water and land pollution and improves quality of life through smart growth and sustainable development.
He said all New Yorkers will benefit as the plans “examine each region’s available resources and provide a specific vision to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency and renewable energy.”
Minerva Town Supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey, chair of the Green Committee for the Essex County Board of Supervisors, said the state funds “will help our county and the others in the region to plan for and maintain the quality of our region’s environment while building an economy that can sustain us for generations.”
She said the partners will work “to develop a plan for the North Country that offers practical and positive strategies that our communities and businesses can embrace.”
Once the plan is developed, additional funding will be available from the Cleaner, Greener Communities Program on a competitive basis to implement projects that support the goals.
Projects must create opportunities for achieving carbon reductions, energy-efficiency savings and/or renewable energy deployment while enhancing job creation, economic investment and development.
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