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Moving on a 'clean energy corps'

By Larry Rulison
Times Union

Group urges U.S. Rep. Tonko to help create federal program

ALBANY Members of the political group met with U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko on Friday afternoon to thank him for his support of renewable energy policies.

They also wanted to pitch him on the idea of the federal government creating a clean energy corps that will be to the energy markets and the environment what the Peace Corps is to the Third World.

Its really a plan to try to get millions of Americans involved in service, training and volunteerism to create the green energy jobs of the future, said Joe Seeman, a local MoveOn volunteer coordinator.

MoveOn says it has about 17,000 members in Tonkos district, which includes Albany, Troy and Schenectady.

The idea for a clean energy corps was hatched last year by a number of advocacy groups and think tanks, including Apollo Alliance and Green For All, both of which promote what is known as the green collar economy.

The corps would retrofit homes to become more energy-efficient, such as by adding more insulation to reduce heating and air conditioning costs.

The groups believe that $10 billion in spending on the effort can sustain 120,000 jobs annually, and they want to create a $50 million revolving loan fund to finance projects.

Those who came up with the idea envision the clean energy corps being part of a new federal Energy Security Council that has cabinet-level status.

It does need federal funding, Seeman said.

The meeting between MoveOn and Tonko was closed to the public, but Tonko spokesman Beau Duffy said afterward the session was productive. Tonko supports the idea of a clean energy corps, he said. That is something that Paul is trying to put together.

Among the MoveOn members who met with Tonko was David Borton, a solar energy expert and an adjunct professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.

Borton told Tonko there needs to be more support for passive-solar systems in homes using a well-placed sunroom with high-efficiency windows to heat a home.

Borton said he gets about two-thirds of the heat at his Brunswick home from his passive-solar system. That accounts for half of all the energy he consumes.

Passive solar has a huge constituency that has no lobby, said Borton, who also uses solar panels at the house. Nobody knows about it. Its an educational thing. They dont know how good it is.

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