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Skaneateles-area farmers discuss renewable energy at agricultural program meeting

Mike McMahon (second from left), of E-Z Acres dairy farm, is awarded the 2013 Environmental Steward Award. E-Z Acres, located in Homer, has participated in the watershed program and United State Department of Agriculture’s conservation programs since 1998. “There is no greater reward than to be recognized by your peers,” McMahon said after thanking the room for honoring him. “We do these things because it’s the right thing to do, not for the accolades,” he said.

Mike McMahon (second from left), of E-Z Acres dairy farm, is awarded the 2013 Environmental Steward Award. E-Z Acres, located in Homer, has participated in the watershed program and United State Department of Agriculture’s conservation programs since 1998. “There is no greater reward than to be recognized by your peers,” McMahon said after thanking the room for honoring him. “We do these things because it’s the right thing to do, not for the accolades,” he said.

Tucker, whose farm is in Skaneateles, said that he had studied the town’s zoning laws as a member of the town planning board and found that the community would only be OK with turbines of a certain height. At 120 feet, his turbine is within the town’s limits and is able to take advantage of the high winds on his property.

The turbine generates all of the farm’s power annually and will be paid back in savings after about seven or eight years, Tucker said.

Erin Luchsinger Hull, of Cornell Cooperative Extension, presented on high-efficiency LED light fixtures. Though more expensive to buy and install, LEDs are 80 percent efficient, operate well in the cold and have a long life compared to other types of fixtures, making them a smart choice and a money saver, Luchsinger Hull said.

Nearly all of the farmers mentioned that the initial investment for their systems was greatly reduced due to grants offered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Though New York’s utility companies don’t offer the high sell-back rates of other states, programs like NYSERDA make New York a leader in renewable energy funding, Stork said, who also presented on funding options for renewable energy.

Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at editor@skaneatelespress.com.

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