Ulster County Executive Mike Hein opened a well attended Economic Development Alliance breakfast that featured key energy sector experts in Ulster and officially launched Ulster’s Energize NY Finance program.
“We have an opportunity to do something extraordinary,” Hein said. “That is make sure that we expand solar [energy] not just on our municipal facilities but in private sector as well. I believe we have an opportunity to move Ulster County not only to a place of leadership in Ulster County but in the entire United States.”
Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said encouraging commercial property owners to move to solar power will complement efforts by city officials to expand the use of renewable energy sources.
“We, as an administration, have set a goal of reducing our energy usage by 20 percent by 2020,” said Noble, who became mayor Jan. 1. “So this type of program that will now be offered to our businesses and our community will not only help us meet our goals, we really do feel strongly that it will help you meet your goals.”
Alana Daly Mikhalevsky, project manager for Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp., said the utility will help Energize NY improve the local economy by working with businesses.
Patrice Courtney-Strong, regional outreach contractor for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said solar power has a track record of leading to both energy and financial savings.
“I see a lot of people who are just worried about jumping into this arena because they think they’ll make a mistake, and my advice ... is you really can’t make a mistake at this point,” she said. “It’s a good deal, and there’s lots of people around here who can help you figure out what’s going on. It’s a commodity now. It’s like hiring someone to paint your house.”
Solarize Hudson Valley Program Director Melissa Everett agreed there is a competitive market for installation contractors.
“From an economic standpoint ... solar is bigger than steel, solar is bigger than coal,” she said. “The industry is growing at 23 percent a year. So the demand we’re seeing is already large.”