City of Cohoes: Early Adopter of Clean Fleets

The City of Cohoes is pursuing a NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities designation, starting with documentation of its Clean Fleets initiative.

Mayor Shawn M. Morse is flanked by city code officers Tom Cashin and Fred Laughlin as they review City of Cohoes’ EV vehicles.


Using funds that accompanied a consent order, the City purchased two code enforcement vehicles with an eye toward improving air quality within the City, said Melissa Cherubino, director, Building and Planning Department.

“The code officers love it because one charge gets them through the day,” said Cherubino. Each hybrid Ford CMAX came with a charger, which is kept at the Department of Public Works garage. Quarterly fuel costs have been reduced by about two thirds, Cherubino said.

Cohoes is a city of 4 square miles with a population that was recorded as 16,500 in the 2010 census, but it’s grown since then, according to Mayor Sean M. Morse. Cohoes is attracting people who work in Albany but prefer a walkable, greener community just 10 minutes away. More than $60 million in economic development activity is in the pipeline, he said.

“It’s important for the City to do its part to be conscientious about the world we live in. Ours is a city that really wants to be green,” said the mayor. “Looking at our fleet, we wanted to leave it better for next generation. We’re also working on plans for solar street lights, more efficient electrical power in our municipal buildings, and better building codes to encourage more energy efficient buildings from developers. We are committed to do all we can to leave the world better than we found it.” Plans call for the street lights to be powered by a municipal solar installation of 1MG or more, using a power purchase agreement. Savings of $250,000 a year are anticipated.

Cohoes also is pursuing three other high-impact actions: municipal adoption of the Unified Solar Permit; Energy Code Enforcement Training and Benchmarking.

“We started the benchmarking work a few years ago,” said Cherubino. “We identified our costs for each municipal building. Professor Mary Beth Kolosvary from Siena College has supplied us with interns to help us with the work.”

Comp Plan Gives Planners Sustainability ‘Ammunition’

As 2017 begins, the City is wrapping up the development of its Comprehensive Plan. With funding from NYSERDA through Cleaner, Greener Communities, city officials were able to research and write into the plan a set of sustainability goals. By March, zoning code changes will be ready. The City will focus on clean energy use, such as encouraging electric vehicle charging stations and other green infrastructure standards.

“When we list sustainability amid our zoning goals, it give our boards ammunition when developers come before them. We’ll consider allowing greater density, if they’re willing to be green,” said Cherubino.

The City has used New York Power Authority’s Energy Services Program to finance building energy upgrades, and completed a local government operations greenhouse gas inventory.