PUSH Buffalo has released a community-based energy plan as a public comment in response Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2014 Draft State Energy Plan.
Aaron Bartley, executive director of the organization, said the plan calls for a bold reform of Buffalo’s energy infrastructure by decentralizing energy production and harnessing more renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and geo-thermal, which are among the ideas espoused in Cuomo’s draft report.
“States like California (and) New Jersey ... are ahead of New York State when it comes to (encouraging the use of) solar energy. And one of the things we’re really high about with solar is that its produced in a decentralized way,” Bartley said.
Unlike traditional forms of energy production, it doesn’t require a factory to produce electricity through solar energy, he said.
“Every homeowner can do it. So it gives that homeowner more power over their energy future and their energy consumption,” he said.
PUSH officials said their plan, which is being delivered to the State Public Service Commission, is culled from a community-based perspective and aims to show that local communities can take the lead in reforming the delivery of their energy systems, which also could lead to the creation of new jobs in those communities.
“The problems are largely in our communities,” he said, noting much of Buffalo’s housing stock predates World War II.
Bartley said geo-thermal energy can be produced by using some of the vacant land in Buffalo. “On the West Side of Buffalo, we have a house that is being heated through a vacant lot. There’s no furnace in that house,” he said.
PUSH also seeks to increase the number of community-based weatherization programs, so that homeowners – particularly those with older homes – are able to reduce their consumption of electricity and natural gas in order to save money.
Teresa Figueroa explained how an energy audit of her West Side home performed by New Buffalo Impact, a leader in the Green and Healthy Homes movement, ultimately led to her home operating in a more energy-efficient manner, reducing her energy bills.
“With the changing of windows and other improvements, now my house is warm and I can live in it comfortably,” Figueroa said.