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The Energy Tour will hit the road again with its next stop at SUNY Potsdam on Tuesday, Jan. 13. We chatted with Micah Kotch, Director of NY Prize and Strategic Advisor for Innovation at NYSERDA, to get his take on how the tour is going so far.

What have you enjoyed most during your visits?

We’re getting a very diverse field of attendees at the Energy Tour stops, which is incredibly positive. Local residents, project developers and technology solutions providers, local government officials and members of the State Legislature are attending. The tour has provided a platform, not only for information exchange with state officials, but between different community stakeholders. What’s most enjoyable is after the event, attendees are connecting with one another, which is exactly what should be happening.

What are some of the most common questions asked by attendees? How do you respond?

We’re getting some excellent, well-thought out questions at the events. People are asking about principles for Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) pilot projects, which the Public Service Commission just released. They’ve also asked about elements that characterize “good projects.” In response, we hand out a great guide to community microgrids developed by the Pace Energy and Climate Center.

In going forward, what do you plan on doing differently?
We realize how important local context is for each of these events. All across the State, there are people who have been working in energy efficiency and clean energy for decades. This is our ‘small army,’ and their leadership and the projects they’ve helped build need to be highlighted and called out. I’d really like to build digital and analog case studies for each of these regional ‘showcase projects’ because even though this is a very tight-knit community, some of these projects deserve a much brighter spotlight and an opportunity to share their accomplishments across the State and beyond.

For those interested in attending, what do you think is important for them to know before attending?

So much is happening to make NYSERDA more market-focused and to accelerate the uptake of clean energy and energy efficiency throughout New York. The scope is really pretty amazing when you look at NY Prize as part of a bigger picture, which is what the Energy Tour is all about. We launched a new, market-driven approach to expand solar power in the state with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $1 billion commitment to NY-Sun and are moving toward a self-sustaining solar industry. We introduced Community Solar NY to help make solar more affordable for all New Yorkers, and launched Renewable Heat NY to build a high-efficiency, low-emission wood heating industry in the State. We also announced our first transactions for the NY Green Bank, a key part of our strategy to overcome barriers to financing and to deploy more private capital that leverages ratepayer dollars.

As an organization, we really are making great progress on making the State’s energy infrastructure cleaner, more affordable, reliable and resilient for all New Yorkers.

What have you learned so far during this energy tour?

I’ve learned how much people care about building a clean energy future in the communities where they live; where they’ve chosen to raise their families. I’ve learned that we have a significant potential to provide some real economic development in communities that are struggling, and that local contractors want to engage. I’ve learned that college students are doing some hard thinking about their role in achieving our energy and environmental goals.  I’ve also come to appreciate what my wife has been telling me since we first met: when you listen carefully magical things can happen.

Join us on the Statewide Energy Winter Tour. After the stop at SUNY Potsdam on Jan. 13, there are only five more stops to go:

  • SUNY Purchase on Thursday, Jan. 22.
  • University at Buffalo on Tuesday, Jan. 27.
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse on Thursday, Jan. 29.
  • SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Utica on Wednesday, Feb. 4.
  • The Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Albany on Wednesday, Feb. 4.

If you would like additional details about these stops or to register to attend, visit our Statewide Winter Energy Tour website.