Cohocton Wind Watch: Energy executives offer ideas on stimulus
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Energy executives offer ideas on stimulus

Executives from two local clean energy companies say federal stimulus money will help them create about 2,000 jobs across the country, though few in Massachusetts.

They were among the representatives from nine firms who met yesterday in Washington, D.C., with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu to discuss how more than $500 million in stimulus funds awarded to clean energy companies nationwide this month is being spent. The treasury and energy departments distributed the money jointly under a program that provides cash assistance to energy producers, instead of more common tax credits.

First Wind, a wind energy developer based in Newton, and Ameresco, a Framingham company that oversees energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, participated in yesterday’s roundtable session, during which company representatives also told federal officials how the stimulus program for clean energy could be improved.

“The idea was to find out if these recovery act dollars were working and the answer was an overwhelming and emphatic yes,’’ said First Wind’s chief executive, Paul Gaynor. His company received $115 million to build wind farms in Cohocton, N.Y., and outside Danforth, Maine. They are expected to generate enough electricity to power roughly 73,000 homes. Gaynor said that First Wind’s stimulus award will allow it to “recycle’’ resources it had already earmarked for the New York and Maine projects. That means other projects - including wind farms planned for Vermont and Utah - will probably be completed sooner, Gaynor said.

He said the federal program could benefit from streamlining, especially when it comes to the paperwork involved in applying for stimulus money.

“If they could build more efficiency into the process, that would go a long way,’’ Gaynor said.

Still, the money is making a difference, he said. The Maine wind farm created about 350 temporary construction jobs and several permanent full-time jobs, according to First Wind. By the end of next year, Gaynor estimated, stimulus funding “will have provided over 1,000 jobs on First Wind projects.’’


During yesterday’s roundtable, Chu and Geithner also unveiled a new set of awards: about $550 million for 25 projects nationwide. Ameresco is set to receive $11.7 million from that amount to finance three projects, two in California and one in Missouri. Those projects will convert landfill gas into usable energy.

Ameresco’s founder, George Sakellaris, said the benefits of the funding will extend beyond the projects, allowing the company to accelerate development of seven other projects, including a solar installation on the North Shore. Eventually, the work will generate about 1,000 jobs, he said.

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