WXXI AM News

renewable energy

A group of community members in Penfield are working to bring Community Choice Aggregation, or CCA, to their town. With CCA, a town or a group of towns choose an electricity supplier on behalf of residents and then negotiate the rates. CCA was first implemented in Massachusetts more than two decades ago; since then, it has been implemented in communities across the country, including in Monroe County. 

The Penfield Town Board has drafted a CCA-enabling law, and for nearly 18 months, the PenfieldCCA Residents' Committee has advocated for the inclusion of 100 percent renewable electricity as the default option for the plan, along with an "opt-up" community solar option. Committee members say their CCA plan will save residents money on their energy bills and allow for a switch to clean and renewable electricity.

This hour, we discuss how CCA works and what Penfield residents hope to see in their town. In studio:

Is your home energy efficient? The goal of the Sustainable Homes Rochester campaign is to encourage community members to install clean heating and cooling systems to improve energy efficiency. What does that look like?

Our guests discuss the different technologies, how they work, and how homeowners can decide what might be the right fit for their energy goals. In studio:

Rochester Regional Health

Rochester Regional Health has activated a solar farm in Parma that it says will power more than 100 of its smaller facilities.

It’s part of an effort announced last year to power the company’s operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

President Trump has been critical of wind energy in recent weeks. We focus on wind as a component of New York State’s energy future, and the energy future of the country. Our guests:

  • Eric Hittinger, assistant professor of public policy at the College of Liberal Arts, and faculty member at the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT
  • Neely Kelly, senior organizer for Mothers Out Front New York
  • Zack Dufresne, director of member services and clean energy advocate for the Alliance for Clean Energy New York

On January 23, the Trump administration imposed a 30 percent tariff on solar cells and modules made abroad. President Trumps says the move will increase U.S. manufacturing of solar equipment and create jobs. Since the tariff was imposed, one Chinese solar company has announced it will build a plant in Florida. While plans for the plant were in the works prior to the Trump administration's announcement, the company said it "continues to closely monitor treatment of imports of solar cells and modules under the U.S. trade laws."

Some say this is an early victory under the tariff, but critics say the move will harm the solar industry in the U.S. According to research conducted by Greentech Media, the tariff could result in an 11 percent decrease of installations over the next four years, and lead to tens of thousands of job losses.

Our guests weigh in on the issue and answer your questions about solar. In studio:

Have you heard of geothermal energy systems? It's a growing trend in renewable energy, and it's becoming more popular in homes in our area.

We toured a home in Fairport that uses solar and geothermal systems. We talk to the owner about the technology, and the financial and environmental impacts. Our guests:

  • Martin Smith, Fairport resident who installed solar and geothermal systems in his home
  • Jesse Cook, president of Geotherm Inc.

Quick question: how much power in New York State comes from carbon sources? How much comes from wind? How much from nuclear? And how vulnerable is our grid? There are massive questions about how to bring new sources of energy to New Yorkers, and how the grid can -- or can't -- accommodate it.

The New York Times recently published a story about this challenge, and the ways our power arrives at our homes. We explore it with the author and one of her primary sources for the piece:

  • Emily Rueb, New York Times reporter
  • Suzanne Hunt, Hunt Green LLC
  • Jim Gallagher, New York State Smart Grid Consortium

Could Sugar be the New Oil?

Jan 17, 2013
Some rights reserved by Myrrien

Rochester company Sweetwater Energy has made their second $100 million deal in as many months, and they’re setting their sights on comparable deals every month over the next two years.

This latest deal involves a 15 year contract with Colorado-based ethanol producer Front Range Energy, and will see Sweetwater build and operate a plant to produce sugar from biomass like softwood waste and corn stover, and convert it to ethanol.