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04/21/2004
Hudson Valley Unveils "Green" Project, Achieves Energy Independence and Improves the Environment Photos Available

CONTACT: Janine Kava or Eric Bryant (518) 629-8071 or (518) 341-0601 (pager)
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Photos Available Photo Gallery

Cogeneration Facility Fact Sheet

College is first in SUNY system to use landfill gas as energy source

Hudson Valley Community College has achieved energy independence and is keeping local air cleaner and safer by using landfill gas in combination with natural gas to produce electricity for its entire Troy campus.

The college's 8,000-square-foot cogeneration facility, built and operated by Siemens Building Technologies, Inc., burns naturally occurring methane generated by decomposition in the former Troy landfill and natural gas to power Hudson Valley's 90-acre campus, which is home to 17 buildings. The college is the first institution in the State University of New York System to operate "off the grid."

In addition, heat produced by the operation of the system will be used to power a heating/air conditioning system in the college's McDonough Sports Complex. The McDonough Complex has been heated since its dedication in 1991, but the new cogeneration facility allows the complex to be air-conditioned for the first time.

Governor George E. Pataki, State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, R-Brunswick, State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin M. Crotty and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President Peter R. Smith today joined officials from Hudson Valley Community College, Siemens Building Technologies and a host of local, county and state dignitaries to celebrate the activation of the plant, which is located on the college campus, just north of the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

"Hudson Valley Community College's new cogeneration facility is a perfect example of the great things that can happen when city, county and state governments work in partnership with the private sector to achieve a common goal," said Hudson Valley Community College President Marco J. Silvestri. "This project makes good environmental, economic and educational sense, and we are proud to be using a cutting-edge technology that is both cost-effective and environmentally sound."

By capturing and using landfill gas, Hudson Valley improves the local environment by reducing air pollution, minimizing safety risks associated with unharnessed gas, and tapping into an otherwise wasted source of usable energy. Also, the greenhouse gas reduction benefits of this kind of project equate to planting more than 48,000 acres of forest - or the removal of 36,000 cars - annually, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

"Hudson Valley Community College continually proves itself to be a valuable resource to the community and I am honored to have the opportunity to celebrate the newest addition to the campus," Senator Bruno said. "Everyone who took part in seeing this project through to fruition should be commended. This plant is not only a great educational tool for the campus, it also will have a tremendous economic and environmental impact on the entire region."

Governor Pataki lauded the project, calling it " an outstanding example of how New York is taking the next step to promote and develop clean and renewable energy so that we can protect our environment, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and encourage economic growth through new energy technologies. We've set the ambitious goal of making New York the nation's leader in renewable energy and this project marks another milestone in achieving that goal."

"This innovative project will serve as an example to colleges and universities, health care facilities, corporate parks and others that a strong commitment to clean, renewable energy can produce both environmental and economic benefits," the Governor added.

Hudson Valley partnered with the city of Troy, Rensselaer County, New York State and Siemens to make the $8.4 million project a reality.

"This latest addition to Hudson Valley Community College will help to conserve energy while saving precious taxpayer dollars to the tune of roughly $1.3 million over the next 15 years," Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen M. Jimino said. "The completion and dedication of this state-of-the-art cogeneration facility marks another tremendous accomplishment in the history of our outstanding college. A project such as this is a positive example of the well thought-out growth that Rensselaer County residents can expect in the ensuing years."

Added Rensselaer County Legislator Nancy McHugh, R-Troy, chairwoman of the Legislature's Education Committee: "This is an important step forward for the college, both in terms of protecting the environment and producing energy in an efficient and economical manner. It's just one more example of Hudson Valley being a cutting-edge educational institution."

Hudson Valley will pay the city of Troy a total of $200,000 for the methane the city supplies over an 11-year period. Under an agreement with the college, Troy will receive $100,000 in 2005, and $10,000 a year for the next 10 years.

Officials from the college and Siemens Building Technologies also are studying whether to tap into another community landfill in the future for access to more methane, which would be used once Troy's supply is depleted in 14 years. The facility will run exclusively on natural gas if another source of methane isn't identified.

The college's 15-year performance contract with Siemens covers all costs associated with the construction, operation and maintenance of the plant.

"Siemens Building Technologies looks for projects that benefit not only the customer, but the community at large. This is one of those projects. We salute Hudson Valley for its good environmental citizenship by using landfill gas to help manufacture electricity," said Pat McParlane, who is Siemens' New York Manager.

The financing for the project works like this: Hudson Valley had spent about $1.5 million annually on electricity, and $300,000 per year on natural gas. The new facility has reduced the college's campus electricity bill to zero, but has increased its natural gas costs to $900,000, which results in an overall savings of approximately $900,000 annually in energy costs.

The college will use its annual energy costs savings (approximately $900,000) to pay Siemens for the construction, operation and maintenance of the facility for the length of the 15-year contract. That contract with Siemens also guarantees the college will save at least $1.3 million above and beyond those annual energy costs savings during the first 15 years of the facility's operation.

Once the college's contract with Siemens expires, the cogeneration facility will be paid in full; at that point, the college will decide whether to continue to contract with Siemens for operation and maintenance of the facility. Once the facility is paid for, the college will save about $700,000 to $800,000 annually in energy costs.

The college received a $500,000 grant from NYSERDA for the project, as well as an additional $50,000 NYSERDA grant that will allow the college to install Web-based metering of electrical use of all campus buildings. In addition, the college and the city of Troy have applied jointly to the state Department of Environmental Conservation to be reimbursed for $2 million of the cost of the project.

"Promoting innovative and effective methods of producing clean energy is one of Governor Pataki's highest priorities. Hudson Valley Community College should be applauded for taking this important step for their campus and the surrounding area," DEC Commissioner Crotty said. "I'm pleased that by working with the city of Troy and the college to provide $2 million, DEC has partnered in this landmark effort to benefit Hudson Valley students, citizens of Troy and New York's environment."

Added NYSERDA President Smith, "NYSERDA has been helping our state's educational institutions reduce energy costs, and reduce reliance on foreign fuels for nearly three decades. Under Governor Pataki's leadership we are pleased to help inaugurate a system that will make Hudson Valley independent from the electric grid, and less dependent on foreign fuels, and more self-reliant on a renewable resource, Troy's home-grown landfill methane gas."

The facility also will be integrated into the college's curriculum. It houses a classroom that will be used by programs in the Hudson Valley's School of Engineering and Industrial Technologies. As small- to medium-sized cogeneration plants are becoming more widely used nationwide, the facility will be a training tool for potential plant operators and other engineering and industrial technologies disciplines.

In addition to being a wise environmental and educational investment, the project further enhances Hudson Valley's role as a community resource.

In the wake of the blackout in August 2003 that crippled much of the Northeast and a heightened awareness of the potential for terrorist activities, Silvestri said, it is important for the college to be a safe haven for the community in the event of another widespread blackout or disaster, natural or otherwise.

Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 50 degree and certification programs in four academic divisions: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Business; as well as programs run through the Educational Opportunity Center offering certification programs in workforce and academic preparation. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 11,000 students, and it is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining. Hudson Valley has graduated more than 55,000 students.