By Katie Clayton
Starting in late April the Rondout Valley and environs will be going solar as the communities of Marbletown, Rochester, and Olive step up to become hosts for the latest Solarize Hudson Valley campaign.
Solarize Rondout Valley, which recently held a well-attended dinner meet up at the Marbletown Community Center, is launching a full-out effort with a Sunday, April 30 event at the Accord Community Center from 3:30 to 6 pm where volunteer teams will be set, residential and commercial installers selected, wood-fired pizza served… and all to the fun music of the local band Tulula. A second event will be held at the Olive Free Library in West Shokan the afternoon of Saturday, May 5.
The Rondout Valley and Olive effort is part of a greater solarize movement that’s establishing a group purchasing and community education strategy to double the use of solar electricity throughout the Northeast . In our region, Solarize Hudson Valley is being funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), utilizing state regional economic development money granted to project coordinators Catskill Mountainkeeper and Sustainable Hudson Valley,
The three year Solarize Hudson Valley project has been working with targeted communities to make going solar easier and more affordable for local residents. It comes out of the state’s NY-Sun and Community Solar Initiatives, which Governor Andrew. Cuomo has said will use investments of to $1 billion to make the state our nation’s leading solar power by 2023. Already, New York’s use of solar power has increased by nearly 800 percent over the last five years. His goal is that 50 percent of all electricity in the state will eventually come from the use of solar power.
The latest focuses on the Rondout Valley and Olive build on successful campaigns thyat have seen the installation of 110 2 to 17 kW sized arrays in Kingston, Rosendale, Saugerties and Woodstock, plus countless others in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam and Rockland counties.
Since 2011, the Mid Hudson Valley has expanded its use of solar from 12.8 megawatts to 162.74 megawatts, from 1,353 installations to over 14,000. Solarize efforts help the process along by educating and training community members, who then serve as ambassadors who can spread public awareness on the benefits of solar even further through community workshops, solar home tours, “live” solar installations, and the sharing of experience.
In the Rondout Valley, excitement was palpable from the 40 plus volunteers and interested community members drawn out for the March 16 event coordinated by the environmental conservation commissions of Marbletown and Rochester and the Conservation Advisory Council of Olive.
“This is the first time these three towns have come together to work with each other on a project of this nature”, said Solarize Hudson Valley organizer program manager John Wackman, a Kingston resident. “Solarize is all about neighbor to neighbor communication; it depends on community involvement.”
Tom Konrad, Ph.D., chair of the Marbletown Environmental Conservation Commission, noted that the new campaign could also help solve another troubling environmental issue that has been on many local minds for years.
“The installations and utility bill savings will help boost the local economy while helping to replace the retiring Indian Point nuclear plant with clean, affordable local power,” he pointed out. “Marbletown is excited to bring our residents and businesses this opportunity to simply and affordably transition to green electricity”.
The idea behind it all is simple: The more people get involved, the easier (and cheaper) the entire conversion to solar will become (participating residents receive a 10-20 percent automatic discount on their new systems). Talk a great ball now rolling!
For more information check out the Solarize Hudson Valley Facebook page or visit solarize-hudsonvalley.org.