Centre Region Energy Resource Coordinator Position on the Aug. 13 COG PSEC Agenda

Just in from Nari Soundarajjan of CITY-GREEN:

Centre Region Council of Governments Public Services & Environmental Committee Meeting August 13, 2014, 8:30 a.m. at 2463 Gateway Drive…Agenda Item 7.

PROPOSED POSITION – ENERGY RESOURCES COORDINATOR

(To be presented by Jim May, Centre Region Planning Director)

This item provides an update on the proposed Energy Resources Coordinator position in the Centre Region Planning Authority. At their meeting on May 29, 2014, the Public Services and Environmental Committee made a motion to “recommend that the COG Planning Director propose in the 2015 COG Program Plan for the Centre Regional Planning Agency a work objective that provides for the coordination of regional and municipal efforts relating to energy conservation, efficiency, and renewa[ble energy].”

In conformance with COG policy, agency directors review all new requests for positions with the COG Human Resources Committee. The CRPA Director discussed this position at the June 4, 2014 Human Resources Committee meeting. The Human Resources Committee did not take any action on the position, but did express concerns regarding the creation of the position in the 2015 COG budget. The CRPA included the proposed position in the 2014 Draft COG Program Plan after meeting with the Human Resources Committee.

The CRPA director also reviewed the request at the COG Finance Committee meeting on July 10, 2014, and the Executive Director briefly noted the request during the COG Program Plan presentation to the COG General Forum on July 28, 2014.

The CRPA Director researched a number of similar positions at local and regional governments and talked with the Director of the Energy Resource Center (ERC) at SEDA-COG to develop the draft Energy Resource Coordinator job description. The Energy Resource Center has been up and running for over ten years. Their programs can be reviewed in more detail online.

The Public Services and Environmental Committee should review and discuss the enclosed draft job description and consider the follow questions as part of the discussion:

  • Should the highest priorities of this position be to develop a Program and build strategic alliances to meet the needs of Centre Region municipalities in the first 18 to 24 months after hire?

There are many background and foundational reports, regional and municipal resolutions, university experts and resources, and highly regarded local experts in energy efficiency and use of renewable energy. The Energy Resource Coordinator however, must develop an acceptable Program, launch and eventually manage the Program because there is no adopted region-wide approach to this complex issue.

  • If the position is not approved, would the Public Services and Environmental Committee consider requesting that an Ad Hoc Committee be established to prepare a financing and staffing plan for a more extensive and region-wide program?

Energy is one component of a sustainability program. Should a region-wide program [address] long-range issues, including, but not limited to, environment loodplain management, recycling/solid waste/composting, water quality, GIS, infrastructure modeling, urban forestry, non-motorized transportation, capital improvements, subdivision design and land development review?

To proceed with the request for the proposed position, the Public Services and Environmental Committee should:

  • Review the draft job description and note areas of concern.
  • Identify the initial priorities for the position.
  • Provide guidance to the CRPA Director for how best make the case to the municipalities that the benefits of the position exceed its direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include compensation, benefits, equipment (computer and telephone), and training expenses. Indirect costs include staff support, rent, operating costs such as IT support, and copying expenses.
  • Discuss how Committee members can assist the COG staff in explaining the position to individual governing boards/councils.

The next step in that process is for the CRPA Director to make any changes in the job description from the Committee and address municipal comments regarding the position. Municipal comments will be received in late August, at which time the CRPA Director can determine if there is support from the municipalities to include the position in the detailed CRPA budget.

Editor’s Note:

I’m out of town and so can’t attend tomorrow’s meeting, but sent an email to PSEC members Sarah Klinetob-Lowe (State College); Elliot Killian (Ferguson Township) and Carla Stilson (College Township) urging the PSE Committee “to consider the Tompkins County Relocalization Project plan as a template for one of the job duties of the potential Energy Resource Coordinator.”

“More specifically, the ERC would collate existing regional data, and fill in gaps, to create and simultaneously begin implementing a Centre County-specific version of the Tompkins plan. His/her main priority would be moving municipal governments in the direction of simply understanding and acknowledging the energy predicament of the post-carbon era.

On that point, if the conversation goes badly tomorrow (in terms of municipal resistance) then I’d urge you to scale back expectations and develop a detailed one to two-year plan – including timeline for meeting attendance/presentations, etc. – for the PSE committee to educate municipal government representatives on these issues, in cooperation with CITY-GREEN, CommunityWise and any similar organizations. It’s definitely not a Democrat v. Republican issue – both national parties are equally obtuse about it, and local/regional governments are being set up to bear the brunt of the impacts.”

 

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