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Tompkins County is committed to all our residents and all our towns, villages, and school districts. We completely understand the disruption from the downturn in tax base caused by forces outside our control – that is, changes in the global energy market – and support New York State's proposal to assist communities impacted by this kind of disruption. In fact, I've already talked with staff in the offices of Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton and Senator Pam Helming about this and will be setting up a conference call. That program needs to be set in motion.

In the meantime there are important local efforts in place and in the works: Some years ago the IDA created a tax abatement program to spur development of the Lansing Town Center area. It has not been used yet but it is available. The IDA will provide extra incentives for development using renewable energy, as we did for Lansing's Computing Center in support of its heat pump system and solar panels.

As Supervisor Lavigne notes, development is already happening in Lansing using heat pumps instead of gas. The technology is especially cost-effective for new construction. Even larger projects are in place or proposed locally where gas actually is available. In other words, these builders have chosen heat pumps even when they could have used gas. Breckenridge has been performing well for years and City Centre and Maplewood are under development. There is absolutely no reason any developer has to "wait" for a gas pipeline to be built, or use propane, which is more expensive.

Taitem, Inc. is now finalizing rigorous case studies for new home construction of the types proposed in Lansing, to compare new and life-cycle costs for gas, propane, and electric heat pump systems. As soon as that study is complete, we hope the Town will join us in bringing developers together to better understand this technology and promote IDA and NYSERDA incentives that could apply.

For individual businesses and homeowners, this newspaper covered the recent workshop in Lansing by Jonathan Comstock from Heatsmart Tompkins. We appreciate that coverage and encourage anyone who missed his presentation to contact HeatSmart at (607) 351-1752 or http://www.solartompkins.org/. Enrollment – which carries no obligation – closes on April 31 for the year.

Martha Robertson
Tompkins County Legislator, Dryden
Chair, Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee

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