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Posts Tagged ‘Dick Riseling’

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Story and photos by Leni Santoro

On Sunday, August 23 at the Ted Stroebele Center in Monticello Dick Riseling of Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development (SASD), Jonathan Rouis, Chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature, Ron Hiatt, Chairman of the County Legislative Sustainable Policy Committee were on hand for the third Public Education Program on Energy Projects for Local Towns.

Riseling began the meeting with a brief explanation of what may lie ahead for the county as energy costs escalate amid lessening supplies of fossil fuels.

“The opportunities are numerous,” said Riseling. “Although we have not yet found a sufficient way to express it…we are one single community…seeking a way to survive the radical struggle of planet earth to sustain herself with us aboard. We must negotiate new solutions to community hardships, new ways of living in a time when we shall have fewer conventional resources and more challenges from the natural world.”

“Radically and quickly, you and I working together, can shift away from fossil fuel usage which causes wars and devastation to families and the environment and terrible pressures on public and private finances,” said Riseling, pointing out what has been done with funds available through the Economic Stimulus Package (American Reinvestment and Recovery Act) just this past year, citing the cost of retrofitting a town hall with solar voltaic panels and the energy and cost savings of doing so. “This is the kind of thing that every town should be doing.”

In 2007 the Sullivan County Legislator embarked upon the first step in its Green Visioning. The next step was to create a commission that would bring together not-for-profits in the green area to take a look at what could be done and how success could be achieved. Out of that commission bulk purchasing was realized and the county was able to save approximately $250,000.

DSC05459 As for the next step, Jonathan Rouis, Chairman of the Sullivan County Legislator explained, “We can work with SASD and private partners in creating solar farms and generate power that we intend to sell back to the grid…more importantly by creating a market for these systems and the panels we create an entire industry in and around Sullivan County that can be self-sustaining.”

In respect to creating a solar farm, they are currently looking at a county owned site next to the county landfill. They are also looking to partner with a private site in the Town of Thompson as well.

Also speaking for the county was Legislator and Chairman of the County Legislative Sustainable Policy Committee, Ron Hiatt.

DSC05471 “Something else that has pulled us along is the economy,” said Hiatt. “We are concerned to save money in any way we can, so there is a double interest…We had several hearings last year to see how we could conserve. But we could see that there was so much potential in sustainability and this whole effort that we decided…what we needed to do was to have a sub-committee [devoted to the topic of sustainability]…SASD was the ‘voice in the wilderness,’ they are the ones who told us all along that these are the things we need to do…We look for their input, their suggestion, to guide us and to let us know what there is that we can do.”

Also speaking at the meeting was Tim Shera of Sullivan County Transition Towns who explained a bit about Transition Towns and what Peak Oil depletion can mean to future generations.

J.J. Pervasi spoke about the plans for Sackett Solar Farm.

“Last year, in October, I started a company called Upstate Planning. The mission was to be a development vehicle for sustainable energy building projects with a focus on job creation for Sullivan County,” said Pervasi. “New structures can be more efficient that there past counterparts. What we hope to do is help produce a very efficient and repeatable design for what we call distributive generation, so that we can distribute projects all over the county.”

DSC05442 After the speakers gave their presentations a brief recess was held during which refreshments were served, then it was time for the presenters to answer questions from the audience.

Questions concerning local control of energy and how much support there is from the government were among those asked.

“I think everybody was pretty much caught up in local control of electric power,” said Tim Shera.

For those who are interested in visiting SASD, they now have an office in the Sullivan County Government Center building at 100 North Street in Monticello. Their office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays or by appointment. The Government Center phone number is 845-807-0578. SASD can also be reached by calling their office in Callicoon Center at 845-887-4764.

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