League of Women Voters Forum Focuses on Renewable Energy

Tompkins County a state leader in the amount and the rate in which solar installations being installed....

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By Chad Van Alstin via The Ithaca Journal, 2/28/13

A trio of speakers used a League of Women Voters forum on Monday to stress the need for renewable energy initiatives at the local and national levels.

Francis Vanek, a senior lecturer in the department of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell, said that Germany offers a good model for the reduction of carbon emissions.

Germany was) the world leader in terms of installed wind in 2005 … and solar in 2010,” Vanek said. “Then in 2012, in some hours of the summer, they had 100 percent of their electricity come from renewables. That’s really a remarkable milestone.”

The other presentations at the Unitarian Church of Ithaca on North Aurora Street covered green energy solutions that could work on a local level.

Guillermo Metz, of Cornell Cooperative Extension, argued that pellet stoves are not only better for the environment, but they could also save Tompkins County residents money on heating bills.

If 10 percent of the population (of Tompkins County) goes to pellets, we’d be seeing savings of about $1.5 million a year,” he said. “That’s equivalent to about 12 full-time, permanent jobs.”

Metz admits that it’s hard to quantify exactly how the savings would benefit the area, but he believes that the figures show job creation is possible without allowing hydrofracking.

are other ways to create jobs and get energy,” he said. “Some of these other (renewable) energy jobs are great jobs as well.”

Jonathan Comstock, co-chairman of Energy Independent Caroline, said he hopes education will address a lot of concerns people have with adopting renewable energy in their homes.

“Here in Tompkins County, we’re actually a (state) leader in the amount and the rate in which solar installations are going on,” he said. “And yet, less than 1 percent of our homes actually have solar power.”

Comstock, who is also the chairman of Solarized Tompkins, admits that misconceptions often scare people away from solar panel installations.

“The price (of solar panels) has traditionally been high,” he said. “(But) some of that (fear) is an illusion in the minds of our population. … The price has come down tremendously in the past several years.”

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