Dec 18 2015
New York Town Says Goodbye to the Grid
Nassau Free Library in Rensselaer County.
Photo credit: Doug Kerr
December 18, 2015
New York Town Says Goodbye to the Grid

Category

Energy

While one North Carolina town is banning a solar farm for fear it will “suck up all the energy from the sun,” a rural upstate New York town is pledging to go 100% renewable in just four years.

Nassau, New York, a town of 5,000 people just outside of Albany, voted last week to disconnect from the electrical grid by 2020. The town plans to use a combination of solar, wind, and methane-capture from a landfill to generate its energy.

A Good First Step

The transition was spurred, at least in part, by a frustration with deteriorating electrical infrastructure and a lack of timely service from area power companies.

“I’ve had to declare five states of emergency since I’ve been in office, which is truly ridiculous,” Nassau Town Supervisor David Fleming told TWC News.

But town officials also see an opportunity to save the town money, and invest in other projects instead. “We are talking about $2,000 a month,” Highway Superintendent Frederick D. McCagg said. “I could transfer that money for blacktop or maintenance or a truck.”

If all goes as planned, within the next four years, all six of the town buildings will be disconnected from the grid, and the rest of the town is developing a plan to get its power from renewable sources, too.

“It’s not the be-all to end-all for what we should be doing as a state and a nation, but it’s a good first step,” Fleming told Capital New York. “From a practical perspective, it’s possible,” he added. “We have a lot of ‘people resources’ in our community.”

A Small Piece of a Bigger Puzzle

On its own, Nassau’s new energy initiative may not seem particularly impressive—the tiny town covers just 50 square miles. But it’s not alone in its effort.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged for the city to go 100 percent renewable before 2050, and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a goal of having 50 percent of the state’s power come from solar, wind, hydroelectric or other renewable sources in just 15 years.

In fact, the state has a program that can help other municipalities like Nassau make a similar transition. Through its Reforming Energy Vision initiative, the Cuomo administration is actively working to help municipalities move towards greater reliance on renewables.

REV is a comprehensive energy strategy to help consumers make better and more informed energy choices, enable the development of new energy products and services, protect the environment and create new jobs and economic opportunity throughout New York State.

The REV initiative “promote[s] more efficient use of energy, deeper penetration of renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, wider deployment of ‘distributed’ energy resources, such as micro grids, roof-top solar and other on-site power supplies, and storage.”

Speaking about the town of Nassau, state spokesman Jon Sorenson said, “This is exactly the kind of thing REV is hoping to encourage. Smaller, cleaner power systems are less costly and cleaner alternatives to the bigger power stations that have made up the power grid.”

Now, if only we could share that message with our fellow citizens in North Carolina…

Nassau Free Library in Rensselaer County.
Photo credit: Doug Kerr