$2.2 million grant aids solar effort

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Some 60 political leaders and business executives met behind closed doors Monday in advance of an announcement that another $2.25 million is federal aid has been earmarked for The Solar Energy Consortium, which today plays host to a conference of thermal

U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, announced the funding before a group of company executives, marketing professionals and elected officials at the Skytop Restaurant.

“This latest allocation of $2.25 million in federal funding … will greatly support TSEC’s operations and enable the consortium to bring in yet another solar company to the Hudson Valley,” Hinchey said.

Officials with the consortium declined to identify businesses that are considering locating in the region.

Established as a nonprofit organization with funding secured by Hinchey in 2007, The Solar Energy Consortium board includes representatives of IBM; Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corp.; City University of New York; Airport Properties, which has worked with trade unions involved with Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; the law firm of Tarshis, Catania, Liberth, Mahon & Milligram, which has worked on labor law cases; and Wilber National Bank, a commercial institution that works with real estate developers.

In a press release, Hinchey said the consortium has partnered with SUNY Binghamton, the City University of New York, Clarkson University, Cornell University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and SUNY New Paltz in programs that combine business needs and technology research.

“Through its unique partnerships with businesses, higher education institutions, and marketers, TSEC has created an umbrella organization that is fostering the strong growth of the solar energy industry in New York,” Hinchey said.

To date, Hinchey said, $20 million in federal funding has gone to consortium initiatives during the past two years. With addition funding “to be announced in the coming weeks” he said, that figure will increase to nearly $30 million.”

Monday’s gathering, which was closed to reporters and the general public, included state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston; Ulster town Supervisor Nicky Woerner, a staff representative for U.S. Rep. John Hall, D-Dover; and a representative for Gov. David Paterson. It was conducted in advance of a symposium today, led by The Solar Energy Consortium, which is expected to draw industry experts for panel discussions.

“We had a huge industry and government agency response,” said organizer Frank Falatyn, president of FALA Technologies.

“It sold out so fast that we didn’t have an opportunity to have as many established mechanical, plumbing, HVAC and oil companies from the (Hudson Valley region) attend as I had hoped,” Falatyn said. “Their participation will be one of the important keys to creating this new industry in New York state.”

Falatyn said The Solar Energy Consortium expects to lead additional symposiums as part of a “four-month initiative to create a (state) solar thermal roadmap” linking groups that use the technology with agencies that write laws and institutions that conduct research.

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