Energy Task Force
The origin of the Energy Task Force goes back to the early days of the North Country Symposium. When Michael Shuman attended the first Symposium in 2003 the Action Teams were created to mirror the sectors of the regional economy. One of these was the Energy Sector, and the Energy Action Team continued to meet regularly after the Symposium ended.
The structure has remained informal, and membership has changed over the years. For most of its existence Energy consultant Ann Heidenreich facilitated the meetings and the past couple years Klaus Proem has served as facilitator. While topics and members have changed, the commitment to continue meeting and working on energy issues has remained constant. Perhaps the Energy Task Force can best be understood as an incubator for ideas that help meet the Region’s energy challenges.
The Energy Conservation = Economic Development Study
The Regional Energy Conservation =Economic Development study is the Energy Task Force’s most recent project. Consultants Oppenheim and MacGregor had done a similar study before and the Task Force believed that doing such an analysis of the seven counties of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council would be an important contribution to the Region’s emerging clean energy economy. Funding for the study was made possible by a grant from the Wyomissing Foundation of Pennsylvania.
The study, entitled “Energy Efficiency and Economic Development in the North Country, New York” breaks new ground for the Region by clearly showing the economic development benefits of energy efficiency. According to the abstract, “energy efficiency’s economic development value includes a high volume of jobs with mid-level skills paying reasonable wages. Input-output analysis also reflects the degree to which an industry’s dollars are recycled within the region, rather than exported, further increasing local benefits. EE (Energy Efficiency) is characterized by relatively large local investment, especially in labor…” The abstract also notes that “As part of a process of developing an economic development strategy, we show that increased investment in energy efficiency (EE) would be an essential component”…
The full study, with data and accompanying narrative, will be available later this spring.
The North Country Energy Information Clearinghouse
Another project that grew out of the meetings and discussions of the St. Lawrence County Energy Task Force is the North Country Energy Information Clearinghouse blog. Its intended purpose is to fill the need for a public space to share and find information pertaining to the developing clean energy economy in the North Country. Typically, topics of the blog’s postings include meeting announcements, training sessions, energy-related events, grant and other funding announcements, press releases, people notes, green job postings, and updates on projects and energy-related organizations. The site has received several thousand hits and can be found at: http://ncenergyclearinghouse.blogspot.com/. If you have information to share please send it to the email address listed on the site.
The North Country Clean Energy Economy Conference
One of the concrete roles that the North Country Symposium serves is to provide a forum for discussion of issues important to the region. Every year attendees also comment on how much they value the opportunity to meet other people and share ideas.
Sometimes these discussions lead to real projects. That certainly has been the case with the North Country Clean Energy Economy Conference, now in its fourth year. In October 2011 the Symposium featured the work of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, which was then just starting up. During a break in the program a few people were talking, and hit upon the idea of holding an energy conference. It was a powerful idea, and seven months later the first Energy Conference was held in Lake Placid, NY. Members of the Energy Task Force were involved in the planning. The Conference features workshops on various forms of renewable energy, and displays by vendors, as well as tours of regional facilities. It is an event that informs, educates, inspires, and traces its start to the North Country Symposium.