Emma Jacobs

Reporter, WRVO

Former WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.

Emma Jacobs is a native of Boston. She studied history, so she went for more practical training in public radio at NPR member-stations WNYC and WBUR. She helped shape Wired's Haiti Rewired project, a 2010 Knight Batten Innovations in Journalism Awards notable initiative. 

She's contributed to NPR's National Desk, and to Living on Earth, The Environment Report, Only a Game, Voice of America, and Word of Mouth.  She now reports for WHYY in Philadelphia.

Ways to Connect

We're drilling for gas, planning pipes from Canadian tar sands, and pumping millions of dollars into green energy projects.  

But the energy mix that we'll end up with in New York State is still a work in progress. What do we want to see powering our toasters and laptops in the years to come?

We've posed those questions to a panel of experts, to find out what's being built, how the marketplace might shake out, and what the social and political ramifications are of how we produce and consume power.

Emma Jacobs / WRVO

This story is the second part of a series following New York's power lines to Canada.  You can read the first part here

People in the energy field often point out in conversation that "renewable" is not synonymous with "green." The mega-dam project proposed for Newfoundland & Labrador could be exhibit A.

The Lower Churchill Project, envisioned for a remote area of a far northern province on Canada's Atlantic coast, could provide large amounts of energy.

That  low carbon power could flow for more than a 100 years, and provide enough capacity to replace dirtier fuels.

But building the dam would also mean making permanent choices about the landscape around it, including flooding that would completely change the local ecosystem. Another, less tangible, toll would be paid culturally.

In this second installment of our series looking at the impact of New York importing Canadian hydroelectricity, we follow the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line, from the New York side of the border, to Newfoundland & Labrador.

Emma Jacobs / WRVO

This story is the second part of a series following New York's power lines to Canada.  You can read the second part here.

Say you're a big state, in need of a lot of electric power. Specifically, you're the fifth largest power consumer in the nation.

And let's also say you have a newfound zeal for shutting down a large nuclear facility, one that's unsettlingly close to a major city (for these purposes we'll call it "Indian Point").

In this scenario, if your northern neighbor swooped in with an offer to provide you with hydroelectric power, produced by massive dams, you'd say yes - right?

A dam, a plan, Canada

Nov 17, 2011

In the video above is Muskrat Falls.  It's a steep climb down the river valley to the first step of the falls - and it's not a path that's maintained for hikers.  Visitors have worn down the route to the rapids, but at one or two points, it's a nearly vertical climb down the rocks.

On the way down, my guide and I meet a group of telecom workers in florescent vests, on their way back up. Though they wouldn't say it, in all likelihood, they have come here to scout this out-of-the-way corner in advance of new construction.  

Later, as we're climbing out, we're passed by a group of office workers from the nearest town, Goose Bay (population: 8,000).  They've come by to take in the views, which are, admittedly, spectacular.  Not as big as you'd expect, but in the spray, the rapids still feel enormously strong.

This - the views, and the power of the falls - is what makes them attractive to conservationists and energy developers alike.

Emma Jacobs / WRVO

Reverend Jim Matthews says the streets outside St. Lucy's Church on the west side of Syracuse used to flood with every rainstorm.

"The sewage used to overflow and it was raw sewage and it was a mess," he recalls.

But now that the county has re-paved the church parking lot with porous asphalt, the flooding has stopped.

That improvement came after an epic court battle that resulted in Onondaga County being ordered to clean up its overflowing sewer system, to prevent the Metro sewage treatment plant from overflowing into Onondaga Lake.

And St. Lucy's is just one of 50 "green infrastructure" projects taken on by the county's "Save the Rain" initiative.