Jay Egg and Keith Schue
Winners of the 2020 Constellation Prize for Policy Impact
“Their success demonstrates how the engineering profession can be operationalized to work in coalition with frontline environmental justice communities, potentially resulting in environmental protection and climate justice outcomes.”
~A.J. Schneller, nominator
Jay Egg (above left), CEO of the geothermal consulting firm EggGeo, and Keith Schue (above right), an electrical engineer and technical advisor for the Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE), receive tribute for their contributions toward Policy Impact. Their efforts have championed renewable energy, and demonstrably helped move the Empire State Plaza, New York’s center of government in Albany, away from fossil fuel combustion.
“For more than a century, Sheridan Hollow, a community within a stone’s throw of the Plaza, has hosted industrial complexes facilitating the combustion of coal, oil, natural gas, and garbage, at the expense of human and environmental health”, said A.J. Schneller, an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Skidmore College who nominated Schue and Egg.
Responding to plans by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to install gas-fired turbines in Sheridan Hollow to heat, cool, and power the Plaza, Schue and Egg analyzed what had been proposed, exposed flaws, and advocated for alternatives. Referencing state mandates for action on climate change, Egg noted, “The state would be installing a stranded asset. The gas-fired plant would be illegal before it finished its useful life.”
Solutions proposed by Egg and Schue included geothermal technology for heating and cooling, renewables to offset electricity use, and efficiency improvements. They authored technical reports on the feasibility of alternatives, gave presentations, and met with agencies, legislators, and community groups. In 2019, NYPA abandoned its plan to install gas turbines in Sheridan Hollow in favor of electric-driven chillers, a solar complex to offset electricity, and efficient lighting. Details on how their work led to changes in the state budget can be found here.
“To be successful, you need to have the science and an understanding of what is possible. But you also need activism and people to really push for what should happen. If we had either one of those things, but not the other, it would not have been enough.”