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North Country Organizations Back Renewable Heat NY

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North Country Organizations Back Renewable Heat NY
State incentives for high efficiency, sustainable wood heat will boost region’s economy


Maura Adams, Program Director, Northern Forest Center
Phone : 603-229-0679, ext. 114
Cell: 603-545-9629

The Northern Forest Center applauds the announcement of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $27-million Renewable Heat New York initiative for its potential to improve economic conditions in New York’s North Country. State officials launched the program in Troy, NY on July 29.

Renewable Heat NY will help build New York’s wood heat sector through incentives for installation of high-efficiency and low-emissions wood heat systems, training for heating system installers, and development of best management practices for sustainable wood harvesting. The program will be funded by proceeds from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) carbon credit auctions.

“New York is making an extraordinary investment in the industry,” said Northern Forest Center President Rob Riley. “We estimate that if just 3 percent of North Country residents switch from oil to high-efficiency wood pellet boilers and use locally produced wood pellets, it would create an annual economic boost of over $13 million. That amounts to a $345-million positive economic impact over the 25-year life span of the boilers.”

Currently, North Country homeowners are sending $182 million out of the region every year for heating. “With the state’s support, many of our North Country businesses and homeowners will be able to use an abundant natural resource instead of oil and help create jobs in local communities,” said Riley.

Announcing the program, Governor Cuomo said, “By launching Renewable Heat NY we are helping to shape this growing sector with a focus on clean, sustainable, and highly-efficient practices,” adding that the program “will support the continued evolution of a vibrant wood heating sector in rural areas of the state.”

The Northern Forest Center is implementing a Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative across the four Northern Forest states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, aiming to reduce regional dependence on fossil fuels in order to cut net carbon dioxide emissions over time, retain dollars in the regional community by using local, sustainably harvested wood pellets, save consumers over 40% on fuel costs, and create new jobs in the renewable energy and sustainable forestry sectors.

The “model” neighborhood concept creates a geographic concentration of pellet boiler users that helps develop the infrastructure—pellet delivery systems, installation and maintenance support—that will make it easier for others to switch to pellet heating and experience the convenience and savings of the high-efficiency pellet boilers. The Center expects to launch a Model Neighborhood in a cluster of Adirondack communities later this year.

“We see Renewable Heat NY as a straightforward, customer-friendly incentive program for small commercial boilers and eventually residential boilers as well,” said Maura Adams, director of the Center’s renewable energy program. “As we have observed in other states, these elements are critical to generating market demand.”

Renewable Heat NY is meeting with strong support from North Country leaders.

Kate Fish, executive director of the Adirondack North Country Association, said, “This program supports the North Country’s goal of becoming the greenest and most self-reliant energy economy in the state. Our 2011 Economic Development Plan recognized wood heat as an extremely promising energy solution for the region, and Renewable Heat NY will help the wood heating sector gain the traction it deserves.”

William Farber, chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, said, “Having worked for many years with the Adirondack Association of Towns Villages, the Common Ground Alliance, the Adirondack Partnership and other organizations to find economic opportunities for the Adirondacks, I find it exceptionally rewarding to see Albany taking our priorities and recommendations seriously. Implementing real strategies to move wood heat forward could truly be a game changer! I applaud the Governor for moving forward on what is clearly a shared vision for the Park."

“We support high efficiency, locally produced, wood-fired biomass energy when the fuel comes from certified, sustainably managed forests and when it results in decreased net carbon emissions and smokestack emissions that don’t compromise or threaten public health,” said William C. Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, the Adirondack Park’s largest environmental organization. “Those simple safeguards make wood a smart safe renewable fuel of the future, while it creates jobs, produces new markets for local timber, and keeps forests as forests.”

“Renewable Heat NY makes two things obvious: the state recognizes the importance of the forest products industry and the potential benefits of thermal biomass, and it has put together the best program to support thermal biomass in the Northeast,” said Jerry Delaney Sr. of Saranac, N.Y., who serves on both the Adirondack Local Government Review Board and the board of the Northern Forest Center.

The Northern Forest Center is a nonprofit organization that helps create economic opportunity and community vitality from healthy working forests in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

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