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Winds of change in Sullivan County; Legislators urged to invest in sustainable energy  

MONTICELLO, NY – Sustainable energy activist Dick Riseling wants county lawmakers to go green in a big way. He recognizes that the county is already committed to building a Green Technology Park at the college, but he wants it to go even further.

In his capacity as one of the founding members of Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development (SASD), Riseling urged lawmakers on September 21 to take the plunge into municipally owned public utilities. Individual legislators have heard this type of proposal from Riseling in the past, but this time he had a formal power-point presentation and made his case to the entire board.

The largest part of the presentation was spent on wind energy. Riseling sited the case of Hull, MA, a community of 11,000 people, which started to build its own windmill in 2001. The residents were so pleased with the results and the profits to the community that they are now in the planning stages for a fifth windmill. Said Riseling, “Four years ago, Hull was the only one of 54 municipal power authorities to actually generate electricity. Today there are 44 towns in Massachusetts following the Hull model.”

Riseling proposed that Sullivan County create its own municipal power authority and launch its own wind program with an initial project that would cost $22 million. The project would generate enough electricity to power 4,000 homes, “and yield at least $1.5 million in net profits,” per year, which could be used to alleviate the county’s current budget crunch.

It is known from a previous county-sponsored wind survey, that there are several ideal locations in the county to support wind energy.

Riseling also briefly mentioned four other SASD initiatives, including the placement of solar panels on town-owned buildings. SASD has been meeting with various town boards, some of which have greeted the proposal with interest.

At least some county officials have enough interest in the SASD proposal that they intend to investigate it further. After the presentation, lawmaker Leni Binder likened it to an extension of the county’s Green Tech Park program. She said it was a good time to explore alternative energy proposals, although if it moved forward, it would probably be through the establishment of a quasi-governmental corporation, such as the one established to develop the industrial park in Rock Hill. She said county involvement would probably be needed to help raise the necessary funds through bonding.

Chairman Chris Cunningham said lawmakers are interested in looking at any idea that might make a good return on investment, but that questions such as the ownership structure would need careful study.

If lawmakers do move forward with investigating the pros and cons of wind power, they will not be alone. Riseling said at least two private companies are looking to invest heavily in wind power in Sullivan County.

By Fritz Mayer

riverreporter.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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