Heatsmart Business Meeting

With a natural gas moratorium in the Town and Village of Lansing likely to be permanent developers have already been taking advantages of incentives for installing heat pump technology in residences and residential complexes.  But the Heatsmart program is not only for homes.  Program administrators are planning a forum next Wednesday (September 11) for commercial and non-profit businesses to talk about special options available for renewable heating and cooling that are specific to Lansing to mitigate the moratorium.

"The program is focusing on Lansing this year because the needs are greater in Lansing than in the surrounding communities because of the natural gas moratorium," says Solar Tompkins Board Chairman Brian Eden. "We're going to be talking about the technologies, cost and financing."

Some firms require natural gas for special needs of their businesses.  As existing gas customers, both residential and commercial, move to alternative technologies, their portion of the overall capacity of natural gas that is already being delivered to Lansing will be available for new businesses that do require natural gas for specific processes they must use.  Eden says that Heatsmart is subcontracted for the commercial and industrial portion of the Lansing program through Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD), and adds that the Business Energy Advisor will be launching a program for Lansing businesses with facilities larger than 10,000 square feet in early October.

Wednesday's meeting will focus on incentive programs, financing, and technologies that are available to businesses.  New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Clean Heating and Cooling Group Program Manager Scott Smith is expected to attend.  Local energy activist and Fossil Free Tompkins coordinator Irene Weiser says he will be able to speak to the special opportunities for non-profits and government entities who can't take advantage of tax incentives because they don't pay taxes.  a New York Power Authority (NYPA) representative will be present to talk about programs NYPA can offer that manage advantageous financing options.

"There are differences both in the technologies that may be able to provide solutions, and in the types of incentives that exist now, or we hope will come available within the next year," says Weiser."The third thing is the level of difference that a commercial property can make versus a single household, in terms of the impact on reducing the amount of natural gas used, so it frees up gas for essential uses.  It's probably about 45 to 50 households that equal the energy use of a single small business."

Eden says the meeting is part of a long-term initiative to help businesses prepare for the time when they must replace aging heating and cooling equipment.  The purpose is to provide information so it will be available when businesses need it.

"These are expensive decisions and they can't be made on the spot, and you make poor decisions if you make them under duress," he says. "We understand this is a long term process.  We're not expecting people to turn around on a dime.  We're expecting them to be thoughtful, to ask questions, to gather information, do more research to make a wise investment decision."

Eden says Heatsmart will continue to stay in touch with the companies that attend, as well as others that may not be able to make it to the meeting.  He says there was a  a tremendous response from Lansing residents to an August introductory event in Myers Park, and hopes to have a similar result on the business side.  Weiser says that in addition to incentives that are available for businesses now, there are more to come in the coming year.

"The Heatsmart program has been going for a few years now, predominantly reaching out to residential property owners," she says. "This the is first outreach to commercial properties that's happened."