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The Future Looks Green For The City Of Rome

Rome, Solar Panel Project
Patrick Pleul, AFP, Getty Images

Rome, NY (WIBX) - A recent report from city officials predicts that by 2024, Rome could see a multi-million dollar windfall, thanks to the green initiatives currently in the works. The city is upgrading its recycling efforts, installing solar panels at City Hall and developing a sustainability plan. In addition to the three projects, officials say there are other environmentally friendly business partnerships in the works.

Frank Tallerino Jr., Commissioner of Public Works for the City of Rome says the aim is to reduce energy costs and subsequently the city’s overall operating cost. “One of the major obstacles in any industry is the energy consumption, so what we realize right here is that before we can focus on expanding, we have to get our energy efficiency down,” Tallerino said.

A few years ago, the City of Rome entered into an energy performance contract with Johnson Control, a global technology company, that looked to improve how the city consumes energy. Tallerino says they completed phase one of the project that focused on upgrading energy usage in municipal buildings, “Like changing out lighting fixtures, boiler optimization, to make it more energy efficient and addressing air leakage issue,” he said. He adding that phase two followed a year later and focused primarily on improvements at the city’s waste water plant.

Under the 15 year agreement with Johnson Controls, the company agrees to cut the city a check every year the city does not meet its energy savings through the programs. Tallerino says part of the contract also stipulates that Johnson Controls monitor the energy savings. “Part of their project is measurement and verification, where they come in and they monitor the energy usage and savings.” He goes on to say that, “Actually right now we just finished up our first full year of installation since everything’s been installed and our energy savings are significant, they’re right around $500,000.00, both measured and unmeasured.”

In a released statement Mayor James Brown said, “Our long-term growth depends on using energy as efficiently as possible–at all of our facilities. It makes good economical and ecological sense. Through our partnership with Johnson Controls, we’ve been able to lower costs and reduce energy consumption, while strengthening our ability to support the needs of current and future residents.”

Community Development Coordinator, Christian Mercurio, who helped the city secure the necessary funding through NYSERDA, says the City of Rome is laying down the infrastructure by being efficient, open-minded, and thinking scientifically about improving the area’s economy, through environmentally friendly projects. He said, “There is no reason at all that the Mohawk Valley can’t be the renewable or sustainable development hub of New York or the Northeast for that matter, there are very few small cities that are doing what we’re doing.”

Mercurio said another project–in the works for about three years now–set to make positive head waves is the city’s efforts to bring a new company, Enviromotive, U.S. to the area. Mercurio says the company is an off-spring of Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company based in Canada. “They have patents pending on a 100-percent, zero emission electric boat, which is powered by the sun,” he said. He added that by mid summer the company will be in full production in Rome, and said it already has orders  for the zero emissions boats ready to fill.

“The cool thing was that they went all over the state, and when they met the Mayor, the mayor just completely adopted them saying, ‘look I recognize a good idea when I see one. We’re going to make this happen.’” Mercurio says the city has a great record of working with small businesses and predicts that bringing them to the area was a smart move by Brown. “The City of Rome is really trying to be progressive here, this is just one of those ideas that could be a world wide success, because they’re the first company that’s doing this.” He said the market is ready for a zero emissions boat especially in upstate adding, “because our water resources are precious.” Mercurio says The Mohawk Valley has the infrastructure and the potential to be the hub for green energy sustainability.

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