CCE Hosts Renewable Energy Forum

As the cost of fossil fuels rises, renewable energies become a more realistic option for consumers.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension held a forum Thursday to take a deeper look at the energy-harnessing options of wind and solar.

Topics of discussion at the forum were New York State Energy Research and Development Authority programs, solar panels and windmills, the permitting process, the Cleaner, Greener Communities Program, renewable energy codes and other green options.

To begin the forum, Lisa DiFrancisco, a renewable energy consultant, discussed small-scale wind opportunities as well as the permitting and zoning considerations necessary for utilizing wind energy.

Matthew Hubacher, a representative from Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, followed by explaining the Cleaner, Greener Communities Program, which is focused on finding innovative ways for individuals and businesses to reduce their environmental impact and use fewer natural resources.

Ryan Calesena, a representative from Solar Liberty, explained the benefit of solar energy systems on commercial and residential buildings.

“There’s really no maintenance on the system,” he said, adding that the warranties on solar panels are generally 25-year warranties

According to Calesena, there are multiple options for financing the installation of solar panels on homes, including leasing, zero-interest loans and the variety of credits available. NYSERDA is also currently offering $1 per watt back on solar panels in an up-front grant. If an individual installed a common 6.3-kW system on their home, they would be eligible for $6,300 in NYSERDA grant money on the system.

Unfortunately for residents that rely on the BPU or other utility companies that do not pay into the Systems Benefits Charge, the NYSERDA credit is not applicable. Customers can check their utility bill for a line item labeled “SBC,” according to Calesena, to see if they qualify.

At the end of the presentation, attendees asked a multitude of questions regarding the efficiency, installation and viability of solar panels to harness solar energy.

In one example, it was estimated that an individual looking to install a 7-kW system on their home would pay in the realm of $6,000 after all tax credits and grants were taken into account, or roughly $15,000 without the current incentives.

Due to the constantly changing nature of these credits and grants, Calesena recommended individuals interested in solar energy make a decision sooner rather than later, in order to take advantage of the current incentives.

For more information about Solar Liberty, visit

To contact Lisa DiFrancisco regarding consulting services, email or call 814-490-9430.