Tompkins County Energy Roadmap: Evaluating Our Energy Resources
The Energy Roadmap was one of ten local measures identified in the 2020 Energy Strategy to help prepare the community to achieve its stated greenhouse gas emissions goals of 80% reduction in emissions over 2008 levels by 2050. The Roadmap was developed to help guide activities around energy-related decision making and includes an assessment of the potential of various local renewable energy sources to power the community, as well as the role that energy efficiency and demand management can play in reducing energy demand. The Roadmap puts those assessments into the context of the overall community energy picture today and projected in 2050 to identify scenarios for how both energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions goals can be met.
The Tompkins County Energy Roadmap (March 2016) was unanimously accepted by the Legislature on April 19, 2016.
Collaboration on Energy and Economic Development
Addressing our community’s energy needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions poses an immense challenge that demands immediate action and developing a vibrant local economy that provides more good jobs is a top priority of County government. Tompkins County Area Development, the County’s designated economic development agency, and the Tompkins County Planning Department, which provides analysis and planning to address community energy and greenhouse gas emissions, have agreed to collaborate on addressing long-term and immediate energy needs and emissions in ways that contribute to a vital local economy. This collaboration will include bringing a broad variety of voices to the discussion of community goals and strategies, as well as tangible steps to meet both energy and economic development goals. While both organizations believe that overall goals for strengthening the local economy and reaching our energy and greenhouse gas emissions targets are compatible and can be mutually reinforcing, we also recognize that there may be specific instances where they come into conflict. In such cases the County Planning Department’s Energy Fund and the Industrial Development Agency’s Tax Incentive tools will be employed in an attempt to find a mutual gains solution to the perceived conflict. It is likely that some instances will arise where no clear mutually beneficial solution can be identified and, in such cases, the attempt to meet both goals will need to be weighed in making a decision. See a full description of this effort here.
For the press release on this effort, see here.
Tompkins County 2020 Energy Strategy
The Tompkins County Legislature has adopted a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the community by at least 80% from 2008 levels by 2050. The first step along that path is to achieve a 20% reduction by 2020. The strategy for how this goal can be achieved was endorsed by the Legislature in September, 2010 and serves as a guide for energy and emissions work being done in the community.
The conclusion of the Tompkins County 2020 Energy Strategy is that by proactively implementing programs and solutions to reduce energy use, it is possible for the Tompkins County community to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020. In order to do so, actions must be undertaken by all sectors of the community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 277,512 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in order to achieve the target emissions in 2020 of 938,334 MtC02e; emissions that are 20% below 2008 levels. The strategies described in the document total 290,691 MtCO2e, or 5% over the required emissions reduction.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting
In June 2010, reports were prepared for both the Tompkins County government and the overall community reviewing the past ten years of greenhouse gas emissions work. These reports provide a succinct look at efforts to date to curb emissions and reduce energy use in County government operations and in the community at large.
Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Element of the County Comprehensive Plan
Final Element (pdf)
On December 16, 2008, the Tompkins County Legislature approved an amendment to the County’s Comprehensive Plan to address the issue of energy and greenhouse gas emissions. The amendment sets in motion a multi-faceted plan for the Tompkins County community to reduce energy demand, improve energy efficiency, make the transition to renewable sources of energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Its goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the county by at least 2 percent of the 2008 level for each of the next 40 years, achieving at least an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.
Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Element Receives Award
The New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association awarded its 2009 Planning Excellence Award for Innovation in Sustainability to the Tompkins County Comprehensive Plan 2008 Amendment – Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Element. The awards commitee noted that the element clearly articulates the goals of reducing energy demand, increasing efficiency, transitioning to renewables, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Seventeen action items are identified to help the community achieve the stated goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The Cleaner Greener Southern Tier Plan for Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins, Chemung, Tioga, Broome, Chenango, and Delaware Counties may be found here. The accompanying appendices and technical reports can be downloaded as Volume 1 and Volume 2.
The NYSERDA-funded Cleaner Greener Southern Tier Plan was developed with input from community residents, businesses, and public and private experts across a wide range of fields to develop a regional sustainability plan and a set of 'Top 22' priority projects that will improve the economic and environmental health of the area. The plan provides a map to a sustainable future for the Southern Tier and will be used to help guide regional decision-making and state and local investments in integrated, sustainable solutions.
Tompkins County in collaboration with EcoVillage at Ithaca, Center for Sustainability Education was awarded a United States Environmental Protection Agency Climate Showcase Communities grant to demonstrate and document how residential development modeled on the lessons learned from 20 years of developing EcoVillage at Ithaca could be applied to support the development of energy-efficient, livable residential neighborhoods and communities in a variety of smart growth locations. This is the only residential smart growth project among the 50 supported by the Climate Showcase Communities program nationwide. For more information, visit the project website: community-that-works.org
On October 1, 2013 the Tompkins County Legislature authorized an Agreement for Sale of a 25.5 acre site adjacent to Cayuga Medical Center for the development of the third Climate Showcase Communities neighborhood. The neighborhood would consist of approximately 60 mixed income townhomes in a community that reflects the Pedestrian Neighborhood Zoning model developed as part of the Welcome Home: Community That Works project. Answers to frequently asked questions about the Climate Showcase Communities" neighborhood proposed for County property on Harris B. Dates Drive may be found here (pdf).
Other documents produced under this grant include:
EcoVillage at Ithaca: Principles, Best Practices & Lessons Learned (pdf)
Draft Pedestrian Neighborhood Regulations (pdf)
High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing of the Marcellus Shale
The Tompkins County Planning Department has submitted comments to NYSDEC on the SEQR reports and proposed regulations
Tompkins County has conducted analysis and developed tools to proactively address potential impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the region.
Potential land area impacted by well drilling pads in Tompkins County under densities of development that would be allowed under the dSGEIS.
Commissioner of Planning and Public Works, Ed Marx, made a presentation on Drilling for Natural Gas in the Marcellus Shale at New York State Association of Counties Conference - February 9, 2010 in Albany, NY.
The Tompkins County Planning Department has put together the Commercial Wind Farm Atlas (pdf) with information to support local government decision-makers as they consider the potential development of commercial wind farms in their municipalities. Wind energy offers two primary environmental benefits: wind energy is a renewable energy source and it produces zero emissions. Wind farms also have potential negative environmental impacts: noise, visual, and degradation and fragmentation of habitat The Commercial Wind Farm Atlas contains information about areas that are technically better suited for the location of commercial wind farms; areas where development of commercial wind farms may interfere with community services; environmentally sensitive areas and scenic features; and agricultural and forested areas.
Local Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
In April 2001, Tompkins County joined the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, a project of the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives. This action recognizes the need to address the global warming problem swiftly and effectively, and the County’s unique position to play a role. The CCP Campaign is a voluntary program for municipal governments to identify sources of greenhouse gas emissions within their jurisdictions and to implement actions to combat global warming at the local level.
The links below provide information on the steps that have been taken to further the County’s efforts in reducing its contribution to global warming:
Local Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions for County Government Operations (pdf): A plan to, by 2008, reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases generated by county operations by 20 percent compared to the base year of 1998.
Tompkins County Emissions Inventory (pdf): An inventory of greenhouse gas emission for the Tompkins County Community and County Government.