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alternative energy

We've heard it said many times that we need to eventually get off fossil fuels. There is growing urgency about that, but there's usually a lot less emphasis on one important word: how?

The Greater Rochester section of the National Council of Jewish Women is hosting an event this week titled, "Repairing the Planet, Starting in the Flower City." Representatives join us in studio to discuss the goals, and we hear from the Rochester People's Climate Coalition about related issues coming up later this month. Our guests:

  • Arlene Schenker, past president and current board member of the National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Rochester section
  • Mark Dunlea, executive director of the Green Education and Legal Fund
  • Linda Isaacson Fedele, Rochester People's Climate Coalition

What's going on with solar? Recent headlines offer a confusing picture. Solarcity in Buffalo on hold! Direct Energy is closing its local site! Solarize the Flower City is in full swing!

We spend the hour sorting through the latest developments, with a fresh look at the cost of solar energy. Our guests:

If we're going to try to slow climate change, or mitigate its effects, what are our options?

On Monday, February 22 at 7 p.m., the local chapter of the League of Women Voters will host a panel on New York State's legislative approaches to fight climate change. Right now, there are four different policy approaches under consideration by the New York State legislature. From a carbon tax to requiring clean energy, our panel explains the four bills that could still pass this year. In studio:

Our Monthly Science Roundtable asks: What if science could fix one of our country's big energy mistakes?

A decade ago, government was all-in on corn-based ethanol. This produced bad results on a number of levels: environmental, energy efficiency, the impact on food and crop rotation, etc. But now a team led by a researcher at the University of Rochester is zeroing in on a method to make ethanol much more efficient, and much less corrosive. Will it work? We explore the research.

  • Bill Jones, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, University of Rochester
  • Tom Baker, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, University of Ottawa

This summer, the New Yorker wrote that solar power "makes utility companies nervous." Some utilities are hitting customers with a fee if they install solar. But others, like Green Mountain Power in Vermont, are helping customers diversify their energy options. Why the disparity? And what will RG&E ultimately do?

WROC-TV's Adam Chodak sparked this conversation with a recent series of reports, including his reporting that RG&E was considering a fee, but had made no decision. Our panel explores the energy future:

Our monthly science roundtable tackles the growing research into biofuels and biomass; potential for alternative energies; impact on climate change; and more. In studio from the University of Rochester:

Susan Spencer is finishing her Ph.D. at RIT, and some day soon, she could be part of a team that brings a scalable solar energy plan to Rochester. Last month, she was one of 500 people from around the world chosen to attend Al Gore's foundation retreat in Melbourne, Australia. The five-day event was focused on two things: 1) the true cost of carbon, and 2) how to better communicate climate change. It culminated with an eight-hour lecture from Al Gore himself. In this hour, she tells us what she learned, and how solar might be the energy source everyone has been looking for.

Five big new tanks have arrived at the F.X. Matt Brewing Company in Utica. But they won't be used to make the brewery's signature Saranac brand craft beer.

Instead, the tanks will act as anaerobic digesters for the brewery's wastewater.

Special bacteria will munch on the yeast and grains left floating around. The process will get the water about 85 percent cleaner before it's discharged into the sewer system, according to CEO Nick Matt.

But the digestion process also gives off methane gas and carbon dioxide.

That methane will be used to power a generator. CEO Matt says the new system will cover up to 40 percent of the brewery's electricity needs.