The Hudson Mohawk Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) is committed to assisting communities in developing sources of energy that are locally generated, locally controlled, clean, renewable and safe as a way to benefit rural economies. By capturing the unlimited energy flow from the sun, power can be generated and converted by solar, wind, biomass, and geo-thermal technologies. The Council helps rural communities explore and harness these previously untapped sources of income and energy by assisting with the development of innovative, local, renewable energy projects.
Currently, the HMRC&D Council is working with a local, grassroots organization called Helderberg Community Energy (HCE) to explore a community owned wind energy project. Under a grant from the USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG), HCE and Sustainable Energy Developments, Inc. (SED) and input from the community will assess the feasibility of installing three community owned wind turbines in rural Albany County. HCE, SED and the HMRC&D Council plans to move forward with community informational sessions, wind analysis and regional energy utilization and transmission analysis to work towards a mutually agreeable, sustainable local energy solution.
The RC&D Council advocates local renewable energy projects because we are at a time in history when the petroleum and natural gas is becoming more difficult, more dangerous, and more expensive to mine. We find ourselves facing two enormous challenges: (1) how to provide affordable energy for the daily needs of an increasing global population and (2) how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With increased global competition for limited energy resources, it just makes sense to produce, utilize and control energy at a local level. If we can minimize transportation costs and produce energy on site, locally generated energy can be competitively priced. For example, 11% of the cost of a gallon of gas goes towards distribution and marketing, according to the US Department of Energy.
Community owned and controlled projects have the key advantage of allowing local people to make decisions about what is best for their community and to benefit from those decisions. The alternative is to have the control outside the community with the wealth leaving the area to benefit distant corporations or foreign countries.
Ultimately, the goal is to empower our communities to reap the economic, social and environmental benefits of generating and utilizing their own energy. Local communities will control the project type, size, location and distribution of profits. As an economic development strategy, such projects will produce renewable energy, promote utilization technologies, create jobs and spur the entrepreneurial development of spin-off technologies.
Social benefits, such as enhanced awareness of where energy comes from, connection to local businesses and environmentally sound sources of energy will also be a result. Rather than be victim to energy prices and sources dictated by global supply and demand, our communities will be proactive in securing their energy futures. We will have communities that generate and use their power with clean, safe and sustainable technologies. People within our communities will know where their energy comes from and will benefit economically from all stages of energy production and utilization.