Energy Goal 1: increase the local generation and distribution of renewable energy
Opportunities There is widespread support for the expansion of biomass energy production in the North Country, as indicated in the North Country’s Economic Development Plan and the Clean Energy Conference and confirmed by the Energy Working Group, and by numerous existing projects, policies, and programs throughout the region. The production of energy from biomass presents a unique opportunity for the North Country to replace non-renewable energy sources with renewables. Many of NYSERDA’s recent research efforts on biomass have been supported by the North Country. Clarkson University, the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, SUNY Canton, and the Adirondack Museum are a few of NYSERDA’s research partners, and their findings are supporting the development of high-efficiency, low emissions biomass heating market within the region, and nationwide. The region’s cold winter climate and number of older, low-efficiency wood heating systems, make it imperative that the expansion of biomass move forward only with high-efficiency and low emission technology. Wood smoke is a prime contributor to wintertime air pollution in rural areas. High particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) emitted from low-efficiency wood heating systems can impact public health even over short-term durations. New energy conversion technologies, such as high-efficiency wood boilers, furnaces, and combined heat and power systems, offer tremendous promise in using biomass for thermal energy, with the potential to mitigate air pollution concerns. Fuel from biomass is generally price competitive, with thermal heating from wood
chips and wood pellets often less expensive than natural gas, fuel oil, propane, and geothermal, and the technology can be implemented at residential or industrial scales. Other renewable energy sources could also offer substantial environmental and economic benefits if implemented at the distributed-generation/community-scale in the region. Solar power offers an opportunity for locally scaled renewable energy generation, and could be implemented at the residential scale as a replacement for fuel oil heating/water heating systems. NYSERDA has incentive programs for residential and commercial solar (thermal and photovoltaic) systems. Distributed wind power also offers an opportunity to expand renewable energy at the community scale. Small-scale hydroelectric power projects already exist and could be expanded, as could geothermal projects. Community-based virtual net metering is key to distributed power generation within a local community. The NYSERDA Renewable (Energy) Portfolio Standard (RPS) employs two programs as the principal means of obtaining additional renewable resources. The bulk of the electricity needed to reach this goal is obtained from competitive procurements of renewable resources (the Main Tier), meaning large-scale, grid-tied supply from hydro, landfill gas, and large wind and biomass facilities. In the complementary program for “behind-the-meter” applications of renewable generation, customers directly participate (the Customer-Sited Tier) with onsite generation using smaller wind, solar, and biomass systems that replace grid supply at the point of use.
North Country Region Sustainability Plan