Public hearings have started in New York State to discuss its draft energy plan that was approved by the state Planning Board in December.NEW YORK, NY, US, 2002-02-11 [SolarAccess.com] Nine public meetings are planned to offer an opportunity for the public to voice comments and concerns regarding future energy. The draft plan strongly advises that the state take advantage of innovative and cleaner energy technologies to sustain energy security and to boost economic development, job growth and environmental protection. Innovative technologies such as solar photovoltaics, fuel cells and microturbines can supply on-site power efficiently, typically with fewer environmental impacts than conventional power plants, while reducing the need for central power plants and relieving some of the burden on the state’s transmission infrastructure, the document explains. The chair of the Planning Board, William Flynn, says New York is leading the United States by example toward a more secure energy future using sound policies that will “decrease our dependancy on imported energy, preserve and protect our environmental resources, as well as spurring economic development and job growth.” The state imports 90 percent of its energy from out of state, at a cost of US$38 billion a year, he adds. One approach to lessen the need for imported energy and exposure to changing energy markets, is to continue to develop renewable and indigenous energy sources. The report uses the Madison County windfarm as an example, noting that the largest wind facility east of the Mississippi River has contributed to the 40 MW of wind energy to come on-line within the last 16 months. As well, the draft plan includes investment in a bio-fuels industry in New York State to produce home-grown energy and reduce the need for imports. The plan calls for an assessment of the risks to the state’s energy infrastructure, including power plants, transmission lines and pipelines. The terrorist attacks of September 11 emphasize the urgency and need for such an assessment, given the vital role that energy plays. Written comments will be accepted until March 15.