- – 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) toolkitand more.
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.
- – 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.
- – Benchmarking – Monitored energy use of local government buildings to find ways to lower it
- – Clean Fleets – Built an electrical charging station
- – LED Street Lights – Converted street lights to energy efficient LED technology
- – Unified Solar Permit – Adopted a standardized permit application designed to streamline the approval process for installing solar in the community.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
The town of Keene has embarked on an ambitious plan to undertake a host of high impact energy actions, capably led by an all-volunteer team.
Acting on a recommendation from Supervisor Joseph P. Wilson, Jr., the town board passed a resolution establishing the Keene Clean Energy Group as a volunteer advisory and working committee dedicated to assisting the town in achieving clean energy goals.
Carolyn Peterson, a former mayor of Ithaca, and Dan Mason, a retired oil industry executive and a founder of the North Country Clean Energy Conference, are joined by Jim Bernard, Amy Nelson, Monique Weston, Jackie Bowen, Bunny Goodwin, and Josh Whitney.
“Everyone has a project they’re excited to be working on,” said Supervisor Wilson.
The town has been designated as a Clean Energy Community for having achieved these High Impact Actions:
- – Benchmarking: adopt a policy to report the energy use of buildings.
- – Unified Solar Permit: streamline the approvals process for solar.
- – Solarize: undertake a local solarize campaign to increase the number of solar rooftops.
- – Energy Code Enforcement Training: train compliance officers in energy code best practices.
The town hopes to receive a $50,000 Clean Energy Communities award. Possible projects include solar PV for three of their four municipal buildings; interior LED light lights; and energy audits, especially at the town water plant. Mason estimates he PV project alone is an opportunity to save $3,000 a year. Post-award, the group plans to work on LED street light conversion, EV charging stations, a town electric bus, and more. The group also plans to move forward with an effort to bring Keene into the Climate Smart Communities program and is already achieving single-sort recycling, a program requirement.
“The Clean Energy Communities award for a community our size is very significant,” said Peterson. About 11 percent of Keene’s approximately 450 year-round homes and businesses have solar installations, indicating a relatively high level of community engagement with sustainability issues.
To inform its policy direction and activities, the group has met with Mothers Out Front, a chapter of the national organization that raises awareness about climate change.