More residents near NYPA facilities to benefit from additional STEM, energy services programs
The New York Power Authority formalized a new, five-year plan to provide an expanded slate of meaningful programs in energy education and technology as part of its commitment to communities that neighbor its power facilities, including Western New York and St. Lawrence County.
“NYPA is proud to be a good neighbor. We do everything we can to minimize any potential impacts of our power facilities, especially on low-income and underserved communities,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “The concept of environmental justice is more important today than it’s ever been, and at NYPA it’s not just window-dressing. We provide resources that the communities decide would be of benefit.”
The 2019-23 environmental justice (EJ) plan extends NYPA’s reach into more communities by increasing the radius for entities eligible for EJ projects and programs. Previously, NYPA had a limited scope to within two miles of a NYPA facility in an urban area and within six miles in a rural area, according to criteria defined by the New York State Department of Conservation potential environmental justice areas. The geographical boundary is now four miles from a NYPA facility in an urban area and 10 miles in a rural area.
The effort supports Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s commitment to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education by enhancing student awareness of technology and innovation, and teaching skills in sustainability and environmental science. The plan aligns with NYPA’s strategic initiatives, New York state energy policy and the environmental concerns of communities statewide.
As NYPA is undertaking new strategic initiatives including large-scale transmission and renewable energy programs, the plan also expands outreach to communities impacted by such projects under development.
“We’re stepping up our efforts by casting a wider net as part of our commitment to the communities that host our facilities,” said Lisa Payne Wansley, NYPA’s vice president of environmental justice and sustainability. “Our forward-looking plan, which was developed through collaboration with local partners, will ensure that even more people benefit from our robust slate of meaningful programs in energy education and technology.”
Through its corporate responsibility efforts, the environmental justice program provides STEM education, mentorship and energy-efficiency initiatives to empower neighbors to make life choices that will improve the quality of their lives.The plan specifically targets programs in four strategic areas:
•Enhanced STEM education and workforce development. NYPA will continue to provide energy-related curriculum enrichment for K-12 students, and college students will benefit from additional STEM education opportunities that offer links to real-world job opportunities. A digital platform will be developed to allow engagement with interested students and the ability to provide guidance on career-related decisions. NYPA also plans to expand its support of greenhouse science labs, which help students learn about environmental science, energy efficiency and sustainable food production.
•Additional community energy literacy workshops. Home weatherization workshops will be held for low-income homeowners and renters and community educator workshops for teachers, afterschool educators and parents. Participants will learn about energy efficient use and increase awareness about NYPA’s strategic initiatives, including renewable energy technology, an electric vehicle initiative (EVolve NY) and advances in the utility industry.
•New energy services projects. NYPA recognizes the need to include marginalized communities in the benefits that accrue from a clean energy economy. Upcoming projects are expected to expand support of demonstration clean energy, energy storage and electric vehicle projects for the benefit of the authority’s EJ communities.
•Community outreach and advocacy. New initiatives will be developed based on community need and NYPA’s priorities in different regions. Community fairs and public events will educate the public about NYPA programs and initiatives, including the value of clean renewable energy. A mobile energy classroom, to be completed in 2019, will offer interactive displays and simulations.
Watch this video to learn more about NYPA’s environmental justice efforts.
NYPA is the largest state public power organization in the nation, operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. More than 70 percent of the electricity NYPA produces is clean renewable hydropower. For more information, visit www.nypa.gov.