A 2017 study found Plattsburgh residents try to conserve energy; city explores more incentives

Local News

A study of Plattsburgh residents’ attitudes about energy use and energy conservation is coming to light, five years after it was conducted.

In 2017, Dr. Curt Gervich, a SUNY Plattsburgh earth sciences professor, and four students surveyed 8,000 customers of the city’s Municipal Lighting Department. They received 680 usable responses.

“The good news of this survey is that almost everybody in Plattsburgh says they’re trying really hard to conserve energy,” Dr. Gervich said. “I think home energy conservation — there isn’t a ton of space to improve. It sounds like people are turning off their lights and not leaving their devices running, things like that.”

But, he added, there are opportunities to promote conservation through incentives such as rebate programs for Energy Star devices and home insulation.

The Lake City’s low electric rates pose some challenges, Gervich said. They can lead to a perception that investments in energy infrastructure have too low a rate of return to make much financial sense. And they can attract energy-intensive businesses that don’t generate much employment, such as cryptocurrency firms like Bitcoin. (In March 2018, Plattsburgh imposed a moratorium on such firms that was lifted after a year.

Mayor Chris Rosenquest asked MLD manager Bill Treacy for recommendations on educational programs specific to conservation. He said the department may not be able to do much. For example, he said, any language on an electric bill has to be approved by New York State.

“The only thing I can think of is putting supplemental information in with the billing, but we have done some of that in the past and I would say 90% of the people toss it in the trash,” Treacy said. “I mean, some of them don’t even look at their own bill; they just automatically pay it.”

Starting on Monday, all Plattsburgh municipal boards and committees — including the Common Council — will meet in person at City Hall again.

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