to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
309 North Aurora Street | Ithaca, NY 14850 | email@example.com
Alternatives Federal Credit Union
Center for Community Transportation
The Center for Community Transportation envisions a community where travel by shared and active transportation is healthy, safe, affordable, and convenient for all. The CCT's mission-focused services and activities include Ithaca Carshare, Bike Walk Tompkins (and its signature program Streets Alive! Ithaca), and Backup Ride Home, emphasizing social equity and environmental sustainability in this era of new transportation options and emerging mobility trends. CCT works with local transportation providers, educators, planners, decision-makers, advocates, and users to fulfill the mission of enhancing transportation access in our community while reducing its negative environmental and economic impacts.
Bike Walk Tompkins
Backup Ride Home
The Backup Ride Home program provides peace of mind for commuters who travel to work without a personal vehicle (bus, carpool, bike, etc.). Ithaca Carshare’s on-call staff facilitates free alternate transportation home if something unexpectedly happens that makes an original commute plan home unfeasible. Enrollment in the program grew to 85, and 3 rides home were provided. CCT collaborated with the Downtown Ithaca Alliance’s Go Ithaca commuter program to integrate Backup Ride Home enrollment for all participants.
City of Ithaca
Cornell Cooperative Extension – Tompkins County
Clean Energy Communities
Summary: One of our Energy Educators is the CEC Coordinator for the Southern Tier, working with municipal officials to save energy in their facilities and communities through targeted steps – communities become “designated” by tackling 4 of 10 “high-impact actions,” which makes them eligible to apply for grants to fund additional clean energy projects.
Impact: Fourteen more communities were designated in 2018, bringing the total to 36; there are a total of 78 active communities engaged through the program; and altogether these communities have 212 completed, high-impact actions. Grant funds have been used for such things as an LED streetlight changeout and residential LED program in Caroline; installation of air-source heat pumps in the Ulysses Town Hall; and improvements to the Danby Department of Public Works facility. In addition, we have facilitated energy code trainings for codes officials. Visit the Southern Tier CEC website for more information: https://southerntiercec.org/.
Ithaca 2030 District
Summary: Ithaca became an official 2030 District in mid-2016, and currently has more than 25 buildings represented in the District. CCETC serves on the Advisory Board and helps develop resources for District Member building owners.
Impact: Energy Team members have contributed to resources and provided input to development of the District, as well as moved the CCETC office to upgrade various building elements (e.g., windows throughout one of our two buildings) and install heat pumps (covering about 25% of the total heating/cooling load; other areas will be phased in during 2020).
Energy Smart Community
Summary: The ESC is a collaborative project focused on modernizing our electricity system through smarter infrastructure, reduced peak demand, and increased customer engagement. CCETC and Cornell University have partnered with New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG), the local utility, to develop and test the technologies, educational approaches, and customer options that lead to greater adoption of cleaner and distributed energy sources; improved grid reliability, resilience and safety; and reduction of overall energy use and shifted use from peak demand times, achieved when businesses and residents have expanded choices and increased energy literacy.
Impact: In 2019, CCETC continued Community Energy Conversations, focusing on a regular monthly meeting at Salt Point Brewery in Lansing, NY involving customers with smart meters who are engaged in the changing landscape of energy issues in Lansing. We also participated in 7 of the more impactful festivals/events in the community and continued to offer presentations to various community groups. In 2019 we worked closely with local Sunrise Movement students to engage them in local energy issues and actions they could take, including work with New Roots Charter School students and staff to help their building reach 2030 District goals as a new member in 2019. We also continued to maintain the CCETC ESC website, http://ccetompkins.org/esc, which received a total of 1,276 unique page views. Toward the end of the year, our focus shifted to ensuring a strong collaborative process continued after the end of our contract. We ultimately secured a commitment from several key NYSEG staff, planners from many of the local municipalities and the county, TCAD, and others in a joint planning process to create a mechanism for close collaboration on major energy-related projects in the coming years.
Community Groups Support
Summary: The CCETC Energy Team has shifted its work over the past few years to work more “at scale,” influencing energy issues at the level of municipal officials, developers, and others.
Impact: In 2019 we also worked to support a variety of community groups in their work, including Mothers Out Front, Concerned Citizens of Lansing, City Outreach Planning and Education, and others, as well as serving on formal advisory groups including at the County and City of Ithaca.
Alliance for Non-Pipeline Alternatives
Summary: This is a diverse group of community members working to find alternatives to build-out of the natural gas pipeline (or other gas infrastructure), specifically in the Lansing gas moratorium area.
Impact: To date the group has succeeded in spurring NYSEG to propose a combination of measures to reduce overall gas consumption and pressure boosters to increase the pressure in the line. We continued to work with NYSEG on their RFI and RFP process to ensure the interests of the community are included. We submitted a proposal in the RFI process and will be submitting a full proposal in 2020.
Summary: In 2019, we continued to support the work started by Energetics, who led the EV Tompkins program to promote the use of electric vehicles and installation of EV chargers across the county.
Impact: CCETC helped educate residents about EV options and how EVs work through tabling events and presentations. We also began the process to install an EV charging station at CCETC.
Summary: In addition to energy programming, the Energy Team continued to provide information to residents about the dangers of radon, and, through a long-standing NYS Department of Health grant, hand out free radon test kits.
Impact: The Energy Team handed out 148 free radon test kits, received nearly 411 page views on the CCETC radon web site, and tabled with radon information at several community events.
Community Energy Engagement Program
Summary: In mid-2019, CCETC took over the Community Energy Engagement Program in the North Country (7 counties from Lewis and Jefferson in the western edge to Clinton and Essex in the far northeast).
Impact: Through a variety of efforts, we have greatly increased the capacity of Cooperative Extension associations in that region to take on energy-related work, directly helping residents access NYSERDA energy-related programs, especially those directed at low- and moderate-income residents.
Downtown Ithaca Alliance
Syracuse Model Neighborhood Corp, an LMI housing agency in the City of Syracuse.
Finger Lakes ReUse
In 2019 Finger Lakes ReUse continued to offer easy and accessible pathways to the public for unwanted or excess materials in the face of our growing global waste problem. We are continuing to refine efficiencies and expand capacity to manage the increasing flow of local materials (donations of items were up 67% in 2019 over 2018), to better match the volume of materials being unnecessarily lost daily to landfills.
In 2019, Finger Lakes ReUse:
Fossil Free Tompkins
Cayuga Power Plant: Victory!!! After seven years and two attempts by the owners of the coal plant to convert it to burn gas, in June 2019 the plant owners announced their intent to “mothball” the plant and convert it to a data center, and in Sept. 2019 they burned their last chunk of coal and went offline. We are crossing our fingers that this is the last time the plant will burn fossil fuels, but they are holding on to their air emissions permit in case conditions change. And Trump is hellbent on permitting LNG by rail. So while we’re certainly celebrating, we’re also keeping one eye open. Furthermore, data centers are not without their own set of issues. They consume ENORMOUS amounts of energy. Cayuga envisions 100MW load for this data center and another 250MW for Somerset coal plant in Barker NY, also owned by Cayuga’s owners, that is closing with the intent to implement the same business plan. Fossil Free Tompkins (FFT) joined with Sierra Club and 30 other organizations to contact the DEC, NYPA, and and Empire State Development regarding the proposed data center. We asked that in exchange for the support requested by Cayuga for the transition ($65 million, 25MW) Cayuga be required to surrender their air-emissions permit, put in place a solid worker transition plan, develop an ongoing, funded monitoring plan for the toxic materials on the site, install utility-scale solar, and use energy-efficiency best practices for the data centers, including exploring work with some of the 76-West prizewinners=clean energy start-up companies in the Southern Tier. NYPA awarded Cayuga 2MW of the 25MW requested, and 2.5MW of the 50MW requested for the Somerset site. The State’s newly passed energy siting law for large-scale renewables prioritizes old generation sites for renewable siting, so hopefully we’ll see Cayuga’s new owners take advantage of that opportunity. FFT also helped guide the formation of a Citizen’s Advisory Committee to the Lansing Town Board to oversee what happens with the site and data center over time.
Lansing Non-Pipe Alternative: This long-term project is creeping forward at a snail’s pace. It took NYSEG a year to develop a revised RFP for “non pipe alternatives” to address thermal energy needs in the Lansing area. The revised RFP was issued in fall 2019. We worked with HeatSmart Tompkins to host a community event for businesses in the Lansing area to let them know about the NPA opportunity and to provide opportunity for heat-pump and energy efficiency vendors to meet interested businesses. We understand NYSEG received many good responses to the RFP and we look forward to the announcement of accepted projects in Summer 2020. Meanwhile, Fossil Free Tompkins led discussions with Dept of Public Service staff and with PSC Chair John Rhodes to attempt to address issues with the RFP and other constructs concerning gas moratoria. We were told that these matters should be addressed in the rate case. So…
NYSEG Rate Case: …in May 2019, NYSEG (and RG&E) filed their proposed gas and electric rate cases with the PSC. It has been a real slog. Thousands of pages of reading, 3-5 Albany based meetings (2-6 hours each) a week since Sept. 2019 to negotiate terms of agreement with 30+ parties representing a range of interests – low and fixed income, fractivists, industry, large commercial, geothermal advocates, EV charging groups, among others. We were nearing completion of a joint agreement when COVID-19 struck, upsetting the economy and energy demands, and so we went back to the drawing board. We’re approaching the end of negotiations again now. We’ll see where it goes.
Get Your GreenBack Tompkins
We closed the year with plans and funding for the construction of a “Powerhouse,” a Tiny Home on wheels, whose purpose is to engage thousands of residents around energy-related topics, and encourage them to take action. It is seen as the entry point to our Energy Advising program, which is already helping many hundreds of people learn about and access local, state, and federal programs and connect them to local contractors who can help them with energy-related improvements. This advising program has the potential to serve many more people, and we believe the Powerhouse can help with effective outreach.
Much of the design work was carried out during 2018 and 2019 by over 20 student participants in the Cornell University Sustainable Design Club. They prepared the initial designs for the tiny home structure, as well as for the eight exhibits that will be inside the home. They also designed a companion website, a draft of which can be found at www.tinypowerhouse.org. The architectural design was brought to a more professional close by local firm Stream Collaborative (a draft of which was included in our proposal to the Park Foundation submitted this fall), who were compensated with funds from NYSEG and NYSERDA.
Towards the end of 2019 we were delighted to win $100,000 in competitive funding from NYSERDA to finalize the design and complete the Powerhouse in the spring of 2020. We then intend to take the Powerhouse to a score of events and locations around the county to reach Get Your GreenBack’s focus audiences: people with limited income, people of color, people living in rural areas, and in general those who don’t already identify as environmentalists. We also intend to use the Powerhouse to engage middle and high school students, and provide energy-related education to this segment of the population. A separate proposal to the Park Foundation will be submitted requesting one-time support to hire a part-time coordinator for this initiative, a position that we intend to sustain through fee-for-service work with school districts in the region.
Energy Navigators & Energy Advising
Get Your GreenBack (GYGB) has been increasingly focusing its work on building and operating a system
of energy advising to help hundreds—and we hope eventually thousands—take high-impact steps that reduce their carbon emissions and energy use, save money, and contribute to a stronger local economy. The system includes outreach mechanisms, including volunteer peer educators (“Energy Navigators”), systematic follow up using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, connections to contractors and incentive programs, and evaluation. This last year has seen a significant increase in the impact of this system both in Tompkins County and throughout the Southern Tier region.
As of November 2019, we have reached over 7,500 people for the present year, providing advising to over 1,000 of those, and supporting close to 320 to take significant action. This multiplies our previous year’s accomplishments by over five times, close to doubles our main goal of 100 high-impact actions a year, and shows that the system is entering a new period of maturity.
There are a number of things we have learned that has led to this marked increase in impact:
We have been fortunate to be able to count on continued backing from NYSEG for the Energy Navigator program, enabling us to offer financial support in the form of “mini-grants” to some Navigators (most of whom are low-income), purchase materials Navigators can give to residents for direct installs (such as LED lightbulbs and plastic coverings for windows), as well as provide operating support to GYGB. NYSEG won the 2019 award for serving underserved markets from the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative for their work with Energy Navigators.
In addition, our expanded work in the Southern Tier through the NYSERDA Community Energy Engagement Program grant has led us to create a new website and materials under the “Smart Energy Choices” brand, while we continue to use GYGB materials for the Tompkins County area. The Smart Energy Choices branding has been used not only in the Southern Tier, but also in seven counties in Northern NY and another seven counties in the mid-Hudson region.
In 2020, NYSERDA will be funding an expansion of the Energy Navigator program to five other counties in these regions. The GYGB coordinator will be revising the curriculum to make it applicable to any country throughout the state, and training a group of volunteer coordinators from various Cooperative Extension associations, who will then train cohorts of Energy Navigator volunteers in their respective counties. The GYGB coordinator will continue to provide support and guidance to these volunteer coordinators throughout the year.
In addition to our person-to-person outreach at events, food lines, and through volunteers, we have reached tens of thousands of people through our website, flyers, brochures, mailings, presentations, and radio and television advertising, paid for with funds from NYSERDA
And while our focus has been on helping residents, we also serve commercial building owners and managers, helping connect non-profits and small businesses to programs that can help them with energy-reducing work. Some of the organizations we have supported include Incodema, YMCA, as well as the CCE-Tompkins office. We worked with the State Theater and the Chamber of Commerce as well to let other commercial building owners and managers know about the different programs and incentives available to them, and published a short article in their November 19 Chambergram newsletter.
Ithaca 2030 District
Office of Facilities
Office of Energy Management & Sustainability
Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services
Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council
Local First Ithaca
New Roots Charter School
A New Roots education empowers young people as leaders and entrepreneurs for the 21st century. Our focus on environmental stewardship, social justice, and sustainable economics gives youth the skills of hands, heart, and mind they will need to get ahead of the curve and create a successful adult life and career in this new century of dramatic technological, social, and environmental change. New Roots features a unique four-year learning sequence that fully integrates Education for Sustainability (EfS) standards and interdisciplinary, community-based projects featuring sustainability themes while meeting all New York State graduation requirements. Our lower school program (grade 9-10) cultivates foundational understandings and skills that prepare students to become actively involved in their school and local community as leaders, entrepreneurs, and activists when they move into the upper school program (grades 11-12).
Paleontological Research Institution, Museum of the Earth, and Cayuga Nature Center
Solar Tompkins/HeatSmart Tompkins
Other key activities for HeatSmart Tompkins in 2019-2020 included:
Sunrise Movement Ithaca Hub 2019
Sunrise Ithaca was founded in January 2019 and is the local chapter of the national Sunrise Movement, a youth-led organization fighting to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.
Finger Lakes Climate Fund
Tompkins Community Action
Tier Energy Network
The Tier Energy Network has much planned for 2020 including:
Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
Tompkins County Environmental Management Council
Climate Adaptation Committee
Learning and gathering information
Enhancing connections and cooperation
Spring Forum, “The Green New Deal: Pathway to Ecological Sustainability.” Speakers included:
Fall Forum, “Development with the Earth In Mind.” Speakers included:
Unique Natural Areas
Management of the Tompkins County-Owned Forests
UNA Boundary Revisions
Town of Caroline
Town of Dryden
The Town of Dryden advanced several initiatives in 2019 to reduce GHG emissions. These efforts received broad support in the community, which we attribute to effective communication, engaged residents, and tremendous work by volunteers.
Town of Ithaca
Town of Ulysses