CAIRO — The Cairo Town Board is continuing to move forward with their pledge to combat climate change by becoming a climate smart community.
Cairo town board members met with representatives from the Climate Smart Communities Program in July to discuss the towns pledge and the nine other pledge elements, and at last weeks meeting Town Supervisor Ted Banta said they received a “Climate Smart Communities - Capital Region Custom Service Strategy for Cairo.”
Banta said that the plan provides guided expert direction.
The C.S.C. program is a New York State initiative to help local communities reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prepare for effects of climate change, and help save taxpayer dollars.
The plan lists Cairo’s four climate protection priorities, which include:
1. Investigating PACE financing, particularly as it relates to Main Street revitalization efforts.
2. Installing a solar farm on the old quarry to power all town facilities.
3. Updating the zoning ordinance to incentivize density.
4. Using energy management software to track energy use from Town buildings.
After looking over the town’s list of priorities the Climate Smart Community Service made a recommendation to “investigate the financing options for installing a solar farm at a former quarry off of State Route 145.”
The strategy plan is referring to land behind the highway department building.
The C.S.C. Service explained that their financing options could include, leasing, remote net metering, and a power purchase agreement (PPA).
“(We want to) try to infer our cost through remote net metering,” said Deputy Town Supervisor Doug Ostrander.
The towns interest in utilizing solar energy to help the municipalities electrical expenses addresses pledge element number four - encourage renewable energy for local government operations.
“Installing renewable energy systems, such as solar power systems, is an important way for local governments to reduce the use of fossil fuels and resulting greenhouse gas emissions, as well as decrease municipal energy costs,” explained the C.S.C. strategy.
The C.S.C. also asked the town board to provide a summary of financing options to fund the installation of a solar farm on town-owned land, including a description of each option, along with the basic process for securing the financing, and the pros and cons of each financing possibility.
The strategy also included a 6 week timeline for completion.
The timeline includes five tasks:
1. Schedule a call with town representatives to determine what has been accomplished to-date.
2. Obtain data on energy use from Central Hudson for all town facilities.
3. Research various financing options.
4. Compile research into summary of options for Cairo.
5. Have C.S.C. representative deliver the summary to the town.
“We have done tasks number one and two,” said Ostrander. “Central Hudson sent me forty-two pages of data.”
“We are looking at the third option,” he said.
“You have to think big to get anywhere,” stated Ostrander, and added that more specific steps include investigating PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) “so we can bring the whole town into solar power.” Another step is determining what it will cost to maintain a solar farm.
Ostrander explained that it will take time to get all the information needed to take the next steps, but “it will be worth it” he added.