Author Archives: cstrong

NY-Sun Solar Guidebook for Local Governments

The New York Solar Guidebook has information, tools, and step-by-step instructions to support local governments managing solar energy development in their communities.
The Guidebook addresses:
  • – Rooftop access and ventilation requirements
  • – Property tax exemptions
  • – Landowner considerations for solar land leases
  • – Decommissioning ground-mounted solar installations
  • – The most common solar installation deficiencies in New York State
  • – Solar Payment-In-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) toolkit
    and more.

    Download the full New York Solar Guidebook as a PDF or access individual chapters.

30-Minute Webinar: Benchmarking with Energy Star Portfolio Manager, the Basics

Buildings account for more than 60% of the energy used in New York State. Adopting a benchmarking policy to measure and share data on building energy use over time allows owners and occupants to compare energy usage against other buildings and better identify opportunities to cut energy waste.
Collecting, reporting, and sharing benchmarking data regularly helps the public and government agencies make smarter investment decisions; rewards efficiency; and drives widespread, continuous improvement. Benchmarking requires the annual reporting of energy used in municipal buildings. Large communities are also required to disclose annually the amount of energy used in large private buildings.
Although the task may seem daunting, municipalities and small businesses can learn how to use Energy Star’s free Portfolio Manager to input your energy data and analyze trends. Importing your data is a requirement of the “Benchmarking” action item for Clean Energy Communities, and this 30-minute webinar is a great way to get started with the basics for anyone looking to see their energy use trends.

10 Mid-Hudson Municipalities Participating in Climate Action Planning Institute

The Climate Smart Communities (CSC) Program is one of the High Impact Actions under the CEC Program that local governments can pursue to save money, foster a vibrant economy, improve the environment, and demonstrate clean energy leadership.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories and climate action plans are part of Pledge Element 2 under the CSC Program, and are key to establishing baselines and setting achievable goals.
The Hudson Valley Regional Council (HVRC), with the support of Climate Action Associates (CAA), has begun facilitating a Climate Action Planning working group which consists of a series of 10 monthly meetings. This project is intended for communities in Ulster County that have taken the Climate Smart Communities Pledge and have appointed their CSC Coordinator(s).
Additionally, communities that also have CSC Task Forces in place and have identified a Liaison between the local government and the Task Force, will have the greatest opportunity for success, as there is a significant amount of information-gathering and coordination that will need to occur at the local level throughout this project.
The series is designed to run in parallel with local planning efforts led by participants. The working group receives guidance via the monthly sessions and then directly engage their stakeholders. Participants have begun the process of gathering all of the energy billing data for their municipalities to conduct their own GHG emissions inventories and develop emissions reduction targets and climate action plans from these.
By working together as a team, each community can learn from one another, share strategies, and help troubleshoot issues. At the end of the process, communities will have GHG inventories, emissions reduction targets, and draft climate action plans that they can use to fulfill the Climate Smart Communities Program Pledge Element 2 actions.
Communities that participate in this project will have completed approximately one-third to one-half of the points needed to achieve Climate Smart Communities Certification. Participants can also potentially use the government energy usage data they have collected towards the Benchmarking and Clean Energy Upgrades High Impact Actions under the Clean Energy Communities Program.
For  more information, contact Europa McGovern at .

A Wave of Communities Seeking CEC Designation in the North Country

The NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities program is flourishing in the North Country as more communities continue to receive and seek designation. Local governments in New York State can use the Clean Energy Communities program to implement clean energy actions, save energy costs, create jobs, and improve the environment. In addition to providing tools, resources, and technical assistance, the program recognizes and rewards leadership for the completion of clean energy projects.
Here’s a run-down of the latest communities tackling clean energy and climate issues in the North Country:
St. Lawrence County

St. Lawrence County is the most recent community to have completed four High Impact Energy Actions (HIAs) and has been named a Clean Energy Community by NYSERDA. Local governments must complete four of 10 High Impact Actions to earn a Clean Energy Community designation and qualify to apply for grant funding. At least two actions must have been completed after August 1, 2016. The County received the designation for completing the following high-impact clean energy actions:

  • – Benchmarking – Adopted a policy to report the energy use of buildings
  • – Clean Energy Upgrades – Achieved 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from buildings
  • – Clean Fleets – Purchased a plug-in hybrid and installed an electric vehicle charging station
  • – Solarize – Managed a Solarize marketing campaign to encourage residents to install solar installations with more than 40 units installed countywide.
“It’s wonderful that we have been designated as a Clean Energy Community. We will continue to be mindful of our energy usage and will look for new ways to save energy and promote energy conservation,” said Legislator John Burke, Norfolk. Burke first introduced the idea of the county becoming a Clean Energy Community in 2016.
The designation gives the County an opportunity to apply for up to $250,000 toward additional clean energy projects, with no local cost share.
Village of Canton
 
The village of Canton was designated a Clean Energy Community earlier this year and has received a $100,000 grant from NYSERDA to install new energy-efficient blowers at its wastewater treatment plant.
“This funding came at a most opportune time,” Mayor Michael Dalton said. “The blower upgrade at the wastewater treatment facility is desperately needed. The existing equipment is failing and in need of frequent repair.” Canton received the designation for completing four of 10 high-impact clean-energy actions:
  • – Climate Smart Communities – The village and town boards passed resolutions to become a Climate Smart Community and progress is being made toward certification.
  • – Energy Code Enforcement Training– Code enforcement and other municipal officers completed training on best practices in energy code enforcement.
  • – Solarize –  Canton’s Town and Village Sustainability Committee launched a successful Solarize campaign, resulting in close to 40 residential installations of solar panels.
  • – Unified Solar Permit– The village adopted the state’s Unified Solar Permit, streamlining local approval processes for solar projects.
The village is also pursuing conversion to LED streetlights and benchmarking energy use in municipal buildings.
 
Town of Waddington
Lastly, the town of Waddington is awaiting Clean Energy Community designation from NYSERDA.  The four high impact actions completed by the town were:
As it awaits designation, the town has begun considering clean energy project ideas that meet grant funding guidelines under the Clean Energy Communities Program. One project idea is to improve the energy efficiency of older buildings such as the Town Hall and the library. It also hopes to expand on the 55-kilowatt solar array behind the town office.
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Currently there are 28 remaining awards in the North Country region.  NYSERDA manages an online dashboard that provides regularly updated information on the number and amount of remaining grants in each region by community size. Communities in the North Country can email Jaime Rogers at  for assistance navigating the program.

New Energy Efficiency 2025 Target is Equivalent to Energy Used by 1.8 Million Homes

On April 20th, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an ambitious acceleration of energy efficiency in New York, including a comprehensive plan to achieve a new target for significant greenhouse gas emission reductions, decrease consumer energy costs and create job opportunities. Meeting the new energy efficiency target will deliver nearly one third of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to meet New York’s climate goal of 40 percent reduction by 2030. This announcement is part of the Governor’s State of the State proposal to develop a milestone Earth Day energy efficiency target and comprehensive strategy.

In the April announcement, the Governor said that energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way for New Yorkers to lower utility bills, curb harmful emissions and battle climate change.

And as the federal government abdicates its responsibility to safeguard our environment, New Yorkers must continue bold action to reduce emissions and protect all New Yorkers, today and in the future, from the devastating effects of climate change.

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Round Three to Invest in 10 Additional Downtown Neighborhoods Across New York

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched the third round of the transformative Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), investing $100 million into 10 additional downtown neighborhoods across the state.

Participating communities are nominated by the state’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) based on the downtown’s potential for transformation, and each community is awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community’s vision for revitalization.

The DRI is chaired by New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, and supported by private sector experts funded by Empire State Development, and a state agency team from the Department of State and the NYS Homes and Community Renewal. Other agencies are also involved in reviewing and implementing projects.

More information about the Downtown Revitalization Initiative may be found at www.ny.gov/dri.

Orange County Recognized for Reducing Energy Use, Cutting Costs and Driving Clean Energy 

Local governments in New York State can use the Clean Energy Communities program to implement clean energy actions, save energy costs, create jobs, and improve the environment.

The solar panels at 5 Spoke Creamery on Pulaski Highway in Goshen. This was the first Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financed energy project in New York State. Photo provided by Energize NY.

Orange County, in the Mid-Hudson region, was recently designated a Clean Energy Community by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Work on this initiative was led by the County Planning Department with key support from County Executive Neuhaus, the County Legislature and Department of Public Works.

“We are pleased to receive this recognition from NYSERDA,” Neuhaus said. “The CEC program provides a wonderful example of what we can do to foster local climate and clean energy action, while saving local governments and residents money on their energy bills, creating local jobs and realizing the tremendous opportunities provided by expanding the green economy.”

The County received the designation for completing the following high-impact clean energy actions:

  • – Benchmarking. Adopting a Legislative Policy and Initiating Benchmarking of energy use of County buildings.
  • – Climate Smart Communities Certification. Earning Climate Smart Communities (CSC) Certification through actions reducing the community’s impact on the environment. Orange County was the first County in New York to earn CSC certification.
  • – Energize NY Finance. Establishing an Energize NY Finance Program that enables long-term, affordable Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at commercial buildings and not-for-profits.
  • – Solarize. Undertaking two community-based Solarize campaigns (in Warwick- Goshen and Countywide) to reduce solar installation project costs through joint purchasing.

After NYSERDA approves a community’s four actions, the community can submit a grant application online for additional clean energy project funding. Orange County received a Block 3 award. They plan on using the funding to support the work of the Mid-Hudson Sustainability Coalition.

“NYSERDA’s Clean Energy Communities program helps further the County’s goals of reducing energy consumption and encouraging clean energy use in our community,” said David Church, Orange County’s Commissioner of Planning. “This initiative builds upon, and complements, the County’s DEC Climate Smart Community Certification, the first in New York and received in 2013 and is consistent with the goals of the County’s Comprehensive and Mid-Hudson Sustainability Plans.”

Mohawk Valley Communities Exploring LED Street Light Conversions

The Mohawk Valley Economic Development District (MVEDD) and Courtney Strong, Inc. co-hosted the LED Street Lights workshop on April 11, 2018. The event was a big success for the region. There were 39 municipal officials in attendance.  It was the largest attendance MVEDD has ever had in its 52-year history!

Undertaking a LED street light conversion can help communities reduce street light energy use by as much as 65 percent, generating cost savings and emission reductions. In addition, street light projects can contribute to creating a well-lit, safer, and more attractive community. LED street lights last up to 100,000 hours and require much less maintenance than conventional ones. The opportunity to incorporate smart, connected technology such as dimming functions, enhanced law enforcement response, and parking management offers a world of possibilities. Even those communities that do not own their streetlights have options for converting those in their jurisdiction to LED.

Converting street lights to energy efficient LED technology is one of the 10 High Impact Actions to help your community earn a Clean Energy Community designation.

Casey Mastro, Energy Manager- CNY for the New York Power Authority, speaks to attendees about NYPA’s street lighting program. 

The workshop provided an overview of the Clean Energy Communities program by the Mohawk Valley CEC coordinator, Dan Sullivan and presenters covered a variety of topics:

  • Overview of the Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium by Project Lead, Pat Courtney Strong
  • Economics of Owning vs. Renting LED Street Lights by Jen Metzger, Council Member, Town of Rosendale (Ulster County), and Regulatory Lead, Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium (MHSC)
  • Procurement, Technology and Design Best Practices by George Woodbury, MHSC Technical Lead and President, LightSmart Consulting LLC
  • The New York Power Authority Street Light Projectby Casey Mastro, New York Power Authority
  • Case Studies from communities that converted to LEDs: Village of Ilion and Village of Cherry Valley
  • Financing Considerations by Nina Orville, MHSC Finance Lead and Principal, Abundant Efficiency LLC
  • The Key Steps in Any LED Street Light Conversion

Communities have already begun exploring LED conversion opportunities. Within a week of the event, Dan Sullivan heard of communities beginning to collaborate. Todd Schwendeman from the Town of Berne Planning Board said, “the workshop provided me with lots of details to help me pursue energy and cost savings for my Town.”

If you are interested in learning more about LED street light conversions, take a look at the slides below and contact your local Clean Energy Community Coordinator. They provide free technical assistance and consulting services to local governments participating in the Clean Energy Communities program.

Download Slides

See agenda for contact information and bios

POWERful Women

From left:
Vanessa Perez and Jessica Waldorf of the New York Power Authority (NYPA), Pat Courtney Strong, Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium/Courtney Strong Inc.; Maria Szefler, Wendel Companies; Cindy Malinchak, PHILIPS Lighting; and Nina Orville, Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium/Abundant Efficiency LLC. NYPA hosted a March 29 lunch meeting in Kingston to present its street lighting program to the 18 communities of the Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium, funded by NYSERDA.

Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium Moves to Next Phase

As many municipalities are becoming aware, conversion to LED street lights offers savings of up to 65 percent. As such, it is one of the 10 High Impact Actions in the NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities program.

In December, the Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium and the town of Red Hook (Dutchess County) issued a Request for Proposals for installation and (optional) maintenance of LED street lights. Eighteen additional municipalities joined as Participants. The town expects to announce the selected bidder within the next 60 days. The selected firm(s) will enter into separate contracts with participating municipalities.

The RFP was developed by the consortium particularly for municipalities with fewer than 400 street lights. As a cost-saving measure, it does not include procurement. Rather, the consortium is assisting communities with LED procurement through the State bid system and other group buying opportunities.

Red Hook Town Supervisor Robert McKeon, Rosendale Town Councilwoman Jen Metzger, and Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium team lead Pat Courtney Strong
presented at the New York State Association of Towns meeting in Manhattan February 19.
They described the deep cost and energy savings of LED street lights (typically 65%). Red Hook, a regional leader in clean energy projects, is leading an 18-municipality aggregation that is seeking to convert to LEDs through the Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium.
More here: www.nystreetlights.org

The consortium also drafted a second RFP for communities interested in “turnkey” procurement, installation, and optional maintenance services. The city of Kingston (Ulster County) is expected to be the lead municipality for the turnkey offering, and other communities statewide will be able to join. The city plans to issue the RFP this Spring.

The RFP activity is taking place concurrently with efforts by communities such as Red Hook and Kingston to purchase their street lights from their utility companies. In 2008, the New York State Comptroller issued a report that recommended municipal purchase of street lights as an opportunity for substantial cost savings.

After contractors are selected for both RFPs, the agreed-upon pricing will be available to other communities across the State for up to one year, under a State procurement law that provides for “piggybacking.”

All New York State utilities also offer an option for municipalities to convert to utility LED lights. While local governments must continue to pay “rent” for their street lights in the form of monthly fixture charges, these charges tend to be lower than the rates for existing lights and communities would see long-term cost savings, especially when combined with energy savings. If a municipality chooses the utility LED conversion option, the Public Service Commission requires that local governments pay the remaining undepreciated value of the lights being replaced. Most utilities allow on-bill financing of this upfront cost.

Funded by NYSERDA’s Cleaner Greener Communities Program, the Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium began operations in June, 2016 and expects to be active through fourth quarter 2018. Member organizations are Courtney Strong Inc. (lead), Citizens for Local Power, Abundant Efficiency LLC, and LightSmart Consulting LLC.

More information:  and www.nystreetlights.org.