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Entries Tagged as 'energy'

Mercury Standard Will Reverse Damage to NY Lakes

March 17th, 2011 · No Comments · Adirondack News

US EPAThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed mercury standards for power plants are a major step in reversing the contamination of New York’s lakes, particularly in the Adirondacks.

In response to a court-ordered deadline, the EPA has proposed the first-ever national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants. The new standards would require many power plants to install state-of-the-art pollution control technologies to cut harmful emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and gases that cause acid rain and smog.

“After 20 years of uncertainty, the federal government will now have the authority to regulate these toxic chemicals that have had such a devastating impact on the Adirondacks, Catskills and other natural areas,” said Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). “Because of the technology required to meet this standard, it will not only cut mercury contamination by 91 percent, it will also reduce fine particulate matter, low-level ozone and acidic precipitation.”

1,350 coal and oil-fired units at 525 power plants emitting mercury, arsenic, other toxic metals, acid gases, and organic air toxics including dioxin.

The proposed standard is the result of a 2008 U.S. Court of Appeals decision that threw out EPA’s Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR), a cap-and-trade program that allowed polluters to buy pollution credits and emit mercury without pollution controls. CAMR resulted in regional mercury “hot spots,” and recent studies have linked coal-fired power plants to mercury hot spots in the Adirondacks and Catskills. The appeals court ruled that CAMR conflicted with the clear language of the federal Clean Air Act, which requires each power plant to install the best pollution-control technology available to reduce mercury emissions.

The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of national health and environmental organizations. ADK was the only New York environmental group to participate in the lawsuit.

The Adirondacks and Catskills are downwind of numerous coal-burning power plants, whose mercury emissions contribute significantly to mercury pollution in these regions. A 2007 independent study by the Charles Driscoll and the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation estimated that mercury emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants are responsible for 40 percent to 65 percent of mercury deposition in the Northeast.

Current levels of mercury deposition in the Northeast are four to six times higher than the levels recorded in 1900. Ninety-six percent of the lakes in the Adirondack region and 40 percent of the lakes in New Hampshire and Vermont exceed the recommended EPA action level for methyl mercury in fish.

Because of high mercury levels in fish from a number of reservoirs in the Catskills, state health officials have warned that infants, children under 15 and women of childbearing age should not eat any fish from these reservoirs. Mercury is also present in two-thirds of Adirondack loons at levels that negatively impact their reproductive capacity, posing a significant risk to their survival.

More information about the new APA mercury standard is available at: Reducing Toxic Air Emissions From Power Plants

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The Wild Center’s Renewable Heating System Wins Top National Award

March 10th, 2011 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Wild Center LogoTampa, FL – The Wild Center’s pioneering renewable energy heating system was named Bioenergy Project of the Year for Excellence in Renewable Energy at the Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo yesterday in Tampa, Florida. The Center took first place in the Bioenergy category for its system that combines a solar hot water system with a highly-efficient wood pellet boiler. Of the hundreds of national finalists selected by the Renewable Energy World Network of Editors, The Center’s system placed first for its achievements.

“We are really proud that a great North Country team won this award,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, the Center’s executive director. “The main boiler was manufactured in upstate New York, Clarkson University is monitoring the entire system, our wood pellets come from Massena, the installers are local businesses, and most of all we were able to switch from using expensive imported fuel to a super-efficient renewable source for our heat.”

Ratcliffe said the system had attracted a lot of local attention from other organizations with high heating costs. The system will be showcased at the Center’s upcoming Build a Greener Adirondacks Expo scheduled for the end of April.

Pellet Boiler-032410-03 Solar Panels Install 014

“Our goal is to keep pushing the envelope in a practical way,” said Ratcliffe. “We want to play a part in helping the Adirondack region find a new way to use energy, which will end up helping our economy.” Ratcliffe cited the Center’s 2009 study that showed the region spends $1.5 billion annually in energy. “Anytime we can cut that bill or spend the money locally it means more for the North Country economy,” she said.

First announced in July 2009 and commissioned in May 2010, the highly efficient wood pellet boiler is integrated with a solar hot water system that supplies much of the hot water required to heat the 54,000-square-foot facility in Tupper Lake, NY. The new boiler system is the first highly efficient, commercial-sized, gasification wood-pellet boiler of its kind and size manufactured and installed in New York State. Additionally, the solar hot water collection system is the first of its kind used in a commercial application in the Adirondack region. The project was supported by a $350,000 contract award by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The clean burning and efficient renewable energy heating plant has already resulted in a 45% reduction in The Wild Center’s GHG emissions in 2010, a significant reduction considering only 6 months of operation. Full year operations, beginning in 2011 will lead to even further reductions.

The 1.7 million BTU boiler unit is in The Wild Center’s basement boiler room, next to the Museum’s existing propane boiler. The pellets are stored in an outdoor recycled shipping container next to the Administration wing of the Center. The storage vessel also supports the solar thermal array to preheat water for the system. Pellets are augured through a series of pipes into the basement and directly into the boiler. Hot water from the solar thermal array is piped into the boiler through underground pipes.

The wood gasification boiler was fabricated by Advanced Climate Technologies of Schenectady, NY. The solar thermal heating system was designed and installed by E2G Solar and APEX Thermal Services. Similar projects, supported by NYSERDA, are taking place within the Saranac Lake Central School District and North Country School.

Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America has been a leading event in the renewable industry for eight years. Jim Calihan, President of, said “The Wild Center exemplifies the kind of organization that will lead our economy to the next generation of energy excellence and make our planet a safer, cleaner place for the future.”

The project has also won the Best Building Integrated/Innovative category in the 6KC Awards, recognizing the best and brightest solar projects and industry champions in the Empire State, by the New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA).

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Build a Greener Adirondacks Expo at the Wild Center

January 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Adirondack News

National experts come to the Adirondacks

Three Days to a Greener U

Tupper Lake, NY – The greatest change in homes since the invention of the chimney is underway, and for three days some of the biggest and smallest new ideas will be on center stage at The Wild Center’s second Build EXPO. Expert builders, interested home owners and people who want to see the absolute latest green building ideas can gather at the Center’s Build a Greener Adirondacks EXPO. Some of the nation’s leading practitioners will convene in the Adirondacks to demonstrate energy and money saving ideas and products.

Wild Center LogoThe EXPO uses ski trail signs to distinguish between its expert and easier days. The three day EXPO starts April 29 with Black Diamond day for experts and builders. Day Two will be Blue Square day for residents who feel like they have a strong idea of Green Building and want to add to their knowledge. On the last day it’s Green day, when the public is invited to have a look at the latest ideas and meet the vendors and presenters.

Contractor Green Building Training
Black Diamond Day, April 29

This is a Green Building Training Day. A Fundamentals of Building Green course will be offered to those individuals interested in integrating green practices into the core knowledge of their building business. Once this four hour prerequisite course is successfully completed, participants may opt to take a certificate exam based on the Fundamentals material or select an additional trade specific 6 or 8 hour course offered elsewhere in the state and take a combined Fundamentals/Trade Specific certificate exam. Additional information can be found at The course costs $150, which entitles participants to admission on all three days.

Green Building Symposium & EXPO
Blue Square Day, April 30

The middle day of the EXPO will consist of a Green Building Symposium and EXPO with more than 30 building science, product and technology experts from around the northeast sharing information on the latest green building technologies. Presentation topics will include: high performing windows, alternative and unique green building construction techniques, green building science, effective building insulation, passive design considerations, reclaimed lumber, energy saving major building appliances and eco-design concepts (subject to change). The event will include a green building product trade show with numerous exhibitors displaying products and systems that have been recognized for their ability to contribute to safe, healthy, sustainable and/or highly energy efficient building environments. The day will be highlighted with a keynote address offered by Tedd Benson, called one of the most interesting builders in America by and featured on This Old House, Good Morning America, and the Today Show, and recently recognized with a award for his innovative design. (Day 2 sessions only will be $45 with advance online registration or $55 the day of the event. A combined Day 2 and Day 3 will be $55 with advance online registration and $65 the day of the event.)

EXPO and Community Energy Efficiency Forum
Green Day, May 1

May 1 is The Wild Center’s official reopening day for the 2011 spring visitor season. On this final day the EXPO hall will be open to the public with paid general admission (free for Center members and Season Pass holders) and offer consumers the chance to ask questions and see what kinds of choices they have when they make building or renovation decisions. There will be special speakers and a “The Doctor is In” booth where you can talk about your home’s symptoms and find out if there’s a cure. This day will include a Community Energy Efficiency Forum. People interested in ways to make a greener Adirondack home will have the chance to ask experts on hand here in the Adirondacks thoughout the day.


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Environmental Board Approves Regulation for New Outdoor Wood Boilers Sold in New York State

December 23rd, 2010 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Action Ensures New Models Will Burn 90% Cleaner Than Old

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that the Environmental Board today approved a new regulation that sets stringent performance standards for new outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) sold in the state. The regulation will go into effect 30 days after it is filed with the Secretary of State. The stricter guidelines will ensure that new OWBs burn at least 90% cleaner than older models.

“This is about ensuring that new outdoor wood boilers burn cleaner — not only for people who buy OWBs and their families, but also for their neighbors. It’s not unlike the switch to cleaner cars,” said Acting DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz. “It’s also to ensure that OWB stacks are high enough to disperse emissions rather than having them blow directly into houses and other dwellings. That’s important for public health. Also, we have listened to the agricultural community and made appropriate exceptions for farming operations.”

The regulation approved today includes stack height requirements for new OWBs that will reduce the impact of emission plumes on neighboring property owners. In addition, new OWBs will be required to be set back a minimum of 100 feet from neighboring properties — except for OWBs used in agricultural operations, which must be at least 100 feet from neighboring homes. Both new and existing OWBs will be subject to fuel restrictions that ensure that only appropriate fuels are used.

“The new guidelines the state has set on outdoor wood boilers is a necessary step in improving the process of burning wood as a renewable energy resource and is not to stop people from burning clean wood,” said Village of Tupper Lake Mayor Mickey Demarais. “Trying to make our air cleaner and protect our residents is our responsibility and the Village supports establishing guidelines and standards on OWBs to make this happen.”

“The new regulation on OWBs is a responsible move in the right direction without being overly intrusive on the public,” said Elizabethtown Town Supervisor Noel Merrihew. “It’s a good move to put together regulations for the manufacture of the OWBs. Outside the Hamlet areas the smoke can be a problem and this assures long term environmental benefits for our state.”

“In the past, the Cattaraugus County Health Department has been asked by residents plagued by thick smoke emissions to intervene in neighbor feuds involving improperly sited or operated outdoor wood boilers,” said Eric W. Wohlers, Environmental Health Director for Cattaraugus County. “In absence of an enforceable air quality standard, a uniform, statewide regulation to improve combustion efficiency and prevent improper siting of units, coupled with prudent enforcement requiring the exclusive use of proper wood fuel, should dramatically reduce the chance of neighborhood conflicts. There is a place for OWBs in rural New York, if they are responsibly operated and maintained. The new regulation will eventually eliminate those units that were grossly inefficient and were operated irresponsibly as backyard trash incinerators, and ultimately will be more protective of public health.”

Provisions in the regulatory proposal to phase out the use of older OWBs and place restrictions on their use in the interim have been removed and will be addressed through a new public stakeholder process to develop a revised regulatory framework to address concerns of residents impacted by the operation of such units.

The text of the final rule before the Environmental Board is available at chemical/69348.html on the DEC website. To obtain a copy of the complete rule package before December 22, email or it will be available on the DEC website after the Environmental Board meets on December 22.

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A Motorless Movement

June 3rd, 2008 · 3 Comments · News

The NYS DEC announced the formation of an interagency “Quiet Waters Working Group for the Adirondack Park”.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Chairman Curt Stiles today announced the formation of an interagency “Quiet Waters Working Group for the Adirondack Park.” The working group will evaluate lakes, ponds and rivers in the Park for potential designation as “quiet water,” meaning that motorized craft would be prohibited.

The working group will be comprised of staff from DEC and APA, and will actively solicit input from local officials, community groups, outfitters, sportsmen, and other stakeholders.

Alright everyone, form a circle, join your hands, and let’s do some inputting!

“There are too few places in the Adirondacks where paddlers can experience the tranquility of a motorless water body,” Commissioner Grannis said. “With the increasing popularity of paddling, DEC wants to explore the possibility of expanding ‘quiet waters’ opportunities. This is part of our effort to increase opportunities for all recreational users of the Adirondacks. DEC is committed to involving local communities, outfitters, sportsmen and paddlers in this process.”

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Free Energy Accounting

April 4th, 2008 · 1 Comment · News

Electrical WarningThe news about Titus Mountain is pretty incredible.

As soon as I heard this, my thoughts were, “There has got to me more than one person involved.”

Plus, this crime takes place in a context that bears examining.

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Adirondack and Northern New York Wind Farms

April 6th, 2006 · No Comments · News

Wind TurbineSince the creation of the wind farms on the Tug Hill Plateau, interest in developing more wind turbines in the North Country has recently grown. Our local and national needs for renewable and clean energy, along with the economic benefit incentive has made this an attractive opportunity for consideration. The issue is not without controversy and the many interest groups are quite vocal and active. Treehugger posted an interesting analysis of bird mortality related to wind turbines. Rather than debunk the argument used by anti-turbine proponents, it helps place the data used in context.

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