New office urges energy audits, retrofits
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Sullivan County’s new Sustainable Policy Committee heard from the county’s newest contracted agency on Thursday, the Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development (SASD).
In its first official report to the Legislature since being hired last month, the SASD in the form of founder Dick Riseling outlined two main policy recommendations.
“We’re somewhere in the middle of the sixth great extinction on earth,” Riseling told legislators.
So he asked them to seriously consider creating a countywide home and business energy audit and retrofit program that would pay for the first $10,000 in costs to the homeowner or businessperson. The goal would be to greatly increase energy efficiencies.
“The purpose of this is to unleash the energies of all the citizens,” Riseling explained. “... [It would] avoid all upfront costs to the participant, and they get a positive cash flow from day one.”
“That’s very doable,” remarked Legislature Vice Chair Ron Hiatt.
But Legislator Leni Binder urged caution.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know if the county’s experience is very great with all of this,” she said.
In particular, Binder was worried about the costs of monitoring the application of these funds, especially at a time when layoffs are under consideration in next year’s budget planning.
“Just consider it,” Riseling replied.
“I like the idea of the program,” added Legislator Alan Sorensen.
The other policy recommendation Riseling put forth was to install, with the help of grants, solar electric systems in public buildings across the county.
“I’ve picked out some specific schools, libraries and town halls where I already know their energy needs,” he explained. “These would be demonstration projects.”
Riseling also wanted to install such a system at the Government Center in Monticello, but Legislature Chair Jonathan Rouis said the focus should first be on smaller buildings, like the Travis Building at the county’s Liberty social services complex, “where we could implement 100 percent.”
County Manager David Fanslau said he would discuss the issues further with the appropriate personnel.
“If we can get the monies,” affirmed Hiatt, “let’s do it.”
SASD now has a spot in the Government Center the Office of Sustainable Energy though the phone was not yet installed yesterday. Its Callicoon Center office, however, is staffed full-time and can be reached at 482-4764. E-mail, which is preferred, will reach the office at SASDonline@gmail.org.