Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How Green Is The (Hudson) Valley

The injunction to Think Globally, Act Locally always made good sense to me. So I thought I'd make use of this space to start talking about the companies in this region that have sustainable energy solutions on the ground and running, and some of the forces helping to make it happen.

It's one thing to talk about the value of sustainability in planning how to proceed from here, and of course these issues need to be talked up, and ever more urgently. But special in the sight of earth-loving people are those who have moved past the planning and are already Doing something about it, and that's who I'm going to focus on.

It's only logical to assume that the Hudson Valley can develop into a leader in putting clean local energy sources to work. The area has more than its fair share of sun, water, earth, and all them thar natural elements, a highly inventive, forward-looking population, and a central spot in the history of environmental activism to boot. (Happy 90th Birthday, Pete Seeger! That's his famous floating environmental classroom, the Clearwater, above.) Here are a few of the players I'll start getting into more detail on in coming posts.

I crossed the river to check out the Hudson Valley Green Fair at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck a couple weeks back, where they filled a couple of halls with more than 80 exhibitors, and slated two days of workshops on every hue and shade of green activity. This was only the Fair's second year, and they hosted quite a variety of businesses and groups that offer to do more with less (energy).

Talking to people in the booths, the sense is the potential for this is still on the verge — which is pretty much where it's been for the last 30 years. But now everyone's optimistic, somewhere between waiting (because you can't just wait) and hoping for the other shoe to drop — from that mighty foot in Washington, D.C.

So the big news around here earlier this spring was the announcement from U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-Hurley), another local stalwart on the issue, that Washington was bestowing about $3.2 million on the Hudson Valley’s solar energy industry this year. Most of that will be funneled through The Solar Energy Consortium (TSEC), which Hinchey was a driving force in the development of. The funding bill also included 400 thousand plus for several renewable energy projects for local hospitals.

"Hinchey secures $4 million in funding for solar power, energy efficiency"
By Alexa James, Times Herald-Record, 3/2/09
At the Green Fair I found out how New York State is pitching in, too, with a variety of initiatives and programs both pilot and productional. In the "Environmental Disclosure Label" twice yearly in their electric bill, New Yorkers can now see where the energy they buy for their home originates from, hopefully inspiring them to choose to buy Green Power from participating providers. That's one way the state's Public Service Commission is supporting the development of renewable energy service from utilities that serve New York, and working at drumming up further interest in it among the general populace.

Related, here:
Posts tagged Green Tech
and the wider topic of
Appropriate Technology
(Photo of the sloop Clearwater
from James.Doyle on Flickr)

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