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Northern New York Owns Its Energy Future

In the Adirondacks, a clear harmony exists between man and nature — one that provides breathtaking scenery and endless recreational outlets for residents and visitors. There, we can bask in the clean alpine air, in view of crystalline lakes and abundant parkland vigilantly preserved with the future in mind. It’s fitting then that Northern New York’s sustainability innovators will convene today in Lake Placid for the second annual Clean Energy Conference. This three day forum, hosted by the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA), overlooks the site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic games and will be packed with a class of clean energy champions, each deserving of their own gold medals. The ultimate goal? To identify clean energy opportunities across the state and give the public the tools needed to ensure that the Adirondacks, and the State, survive and thrive for generations to come.

On the Conference agenda is ReEnergy Holdings LLC, an Albany-based company with three locations in the Adirondacks. Representatives will share how the company converts organic matter into clean energy. One of its latest projects is a biomass-powered generation facility located on post at Fort Drum (an Army base in Watertown) that until 2010 operated as a coal-burning power plant and was purchased by ReEnergy last year. Rebranded as ReEnergy Black River, this refurbished plant converts locally harvested wood chips into electricity and has 60 megawatts of generation capacity — enough to provide 50,000 homes with clean power. And the benefits aren’t just environmental: More than 300 jobs were created for North Country residents.

For Casella Waste Systems, one man’s trash is more than another man’s treasure. As one of the largest landfill operators in the Northeast — with locations across New York State — Casella is harnessing energy from the gases that are emitted when our trash decomposes. At five of their landfills, this gas is captured in a powerful vacuum and pulled into Casella generation plants. The result? The methane and carbon dioxide gases doesn’t pollute the air and, instead, produces 25 megawatts per hour, sustaining the energy needs of 25,000 homes.

ReEnergy and Casella are just two of the many organizations invited by ANCA to discuss clean energy strategies, funding opportunities, best practices and the like. Founded in 1955, ANCA is the longest running rural development non-profit in Northern New York that — in addition to promoting all aspects of living local — is making clean energy opportunities more accessible and well-known with its annual Conference. There, attendees will hear about local efforts in solar and wind energy, hydro power, conservation and efficiency, and will have the opportunity to mingle with innovators and industry leaders during break-out sessions. Kicking off these conversations is Greg Hale, an Energy & Finance Advisor for the New York State Green Bank, a $1 billion fund made up of state money and private investments that provides low-interest financing for the production of energy-efficient products (think home water heaters, solar panels and wind turbines) within New York State. Mr. Hale will give a behind-the-scenes look at the Green Bank's efforts, as well as other statewide clean energy initiatives.

More than 250 attendees from across New York State and 45 presentations are expected. There will certainly be a lot to learn about how we can make a green difference for our own lives — and those who will follow in our footsteps.

Interested in attending? The Conference Center at Lake Placid is located at 2608 Main Street. Online registration is now closed, but three-day passes can be purchased at the door for $175 (single day rates are not available).

Can’t swing the registration fee? There is a free film screening of "Chasing Ice" tonight at 7 p.m. at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. According to Melissa Hart, ANCA’s communications specialist, the flim is a dramatic and creative take on climate change. Time-lapsed photos of glaciers (taken over the course of several years) are spliced together to illustrate the shrinking of the Earth’s ice caps. Free transportation is available from the Conference Center to the Center for the Arts.

Not near Lake Placid? If you are unable to attend the event, updates will be provided in real-time on ANCA’s Facebook page, and PDF copies of each presentation will be posted to ANCA’s website after the conference. Check back for the latter next week.

For more information on the 2nd Annual Clean Energy Conference, check out ANCA’s website HERE.


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