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By Peter Bardaglio, Senior Fellow, Second Nature

Welcome to the September 2011 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, a monthly update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).

Welcoming the Winds of Change: Enfield Energy

In the works for several years, the Enfield Energy Black Oak Wind Farm project has gained new momentum in recent weeks. The company held a meeting at the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce earlier this month with potential board members. At the meeting, Enfield Energy’s co-owner and project manager, Marguerite Wells, reported that construction on the 35-50 MW Black Oak Wind Farm site is slated to begin in late 2012 or early 2013.

Adopting a financing model developed by the South Dakota Wind Partners (SDWP) project, Enfield Energy plans on making an in-state public offering of the company as a way to raise the necessary capital. Consultants from the South Dakota firm Val-Add Service, which served as the project coordinators for SDWP, explained how this approach works and why they thought it would be a good fit for Enfield Energy, given its commitment to community ownership.

Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County, NY.

Next steps for the Black Oak Wind Farm include securing financing for the $105-120 million project, developing siting details for up to twenty turbines, and choosing proper turbine designs. Power purchase agreements are currently being discussed with several potential parties. To date, Hess Corporation, AES, Shell, and Ithaca College have expressed verbal interest in purchasing power.

Enfield Energy expects to complete its environmental impact statement next month, and is working on its second of three interconnection studies with the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO).Two crane-ready access roads have been constructed, with a total of approximately 1.5 miles in length, which allow entry to the two main wooded areas for turbines.

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By Peter Bardaglio, Senior Fellow, Second Nature

Welcome to the August 2011 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, a monthly update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).

Climate Showcase Community Projects Move Forward

EcoVillage at Ithaca celebrates its 20th anniversary next month.

As we all know, Tompkins County has taken a bold stance on climate change by committing itself to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with an interim goal of 20% reduction by 2020. But how does a community get from a vision to the reality of a sustainable future?

One strategy the county is using to reach these goals is teaming up with the internationally acclaimed, local EcoVillage at Ithaca (EVI) to establish the county as a national exemplar of smart growth and sustainable development.

Tompkins County is one of 49 communities from across the United States to be chosen by the EPA as a recipient of a Climate Showcase Communities grant. The aim of the EPA program is to “create replicable models of cost-effective and persistent greenhouse gas reductions that will catalyze broader local and tribal government actions to stabilize the climate and improve environmental, economic, health, and social conditions.”

The county hopes to build on and expand the successes of EVI’s approach to sustainable community design by updating and establishing a set of EVI’s best practices, which can then be disseminated to other communities. The County Planning Department will also be developing new building codes and zoning policies to encourage the sort of efficient and environmentally-conscious design exemplified by EVI.

Perhaps the most exciting, cutting-edge, and visionary part of the County and EVI’s plan is the construction of three pilot sustainable communities based on EVI’s smart growth principles. The first pilot is known as TREE, and its housing units will not only be more than 80% more energy efficient than the average American household, but there will also be greater availability of affordable units. The County and EVI are hoping that the TREE residences will be Passive House, LEED, and Energy Star Certified.

The second community is the Aurora Dwelling Circle (ADC), which will have 5-8 households on just one urban lot. Housing units at the ADC will emit 80% less greenhouse gases than the average American household and the development will also be within walking distance of downtown Ithaca. A third sustainable development pilot village will be established on county-owned land. The County will incentivize the development of one or two dense neighborhoods, each containing between 37 and 45 household units, and with easy access to community amenities and public transportation.

The energy efficiency, emissions, and building performance of the three pilot communities will be monitored by the County and EVI. They will also reach out to planners, local governments, architects, educators, developers, and community members through educational workshops, professional conferences, and webinars so that other communities can replicate, adapt or build on the County’s example.

So where does the progress of these ambitious and exciting projects stand in the first six months of the Climate Showcase Communities grant?

The biggest challenge so far has been getting enough people to sign on to live in the two communities getting off the ground this summer, TREE and the Aurora Dwelling Circle. Although there are many attractive aspects to living in a sustainable community development and many Ithacans are enthusiastic about smart growth, the state of the economy is making it difficult to secure a critical mass of potential residents.

Considerable progress has been made in other areas, however, in just six short months. Grant contracts, timeline, goals, tasks and milestones were established for the first year. The Planning Department’s Ed Marx and EVI’s Liz Walker attended an EPA conference for Climate Showcase Community grantees in Colorado in May.

The grant and planned projects have received considerable media coverage throughout the county. Extensive data on both current and past energy and resource usage in EVI has been gathered and organized, and a report containing EVI’s guiding principles and best practices has been completed. Also, zoning ordinances are being drafted by the County for urban infill and village nodal development projects.

County and EVI staff have already presented on the Climate Showcase Communities project at twelve different events or conferences, reaching over six hundred people, not only in Ithaca, but also in New England, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Keep your eyes open for further events, as well as the soon-to-be launched project website!

Hannah Foster
TCCPI Summer Intern

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