Category Archives: Clean Energy Communities

Knox Volunteers Help Implement High Impact Actions

Amy Pokorny at the Altamont Fair

The Town of Knox proves that no community is too small to be awarded the title of a NYSERDA Clean Energy Community. When Town Board Member Amy Pokorny learned about the program, she mobilized a group of local volunteers and neighbors to help them achieve the Clean Energy Communities (CEC) designation. The Town has limited staff capacity and a population of fewer than 3,000 residents.

The group of volunteers ranged in terms of energy literacy, and several were experts in engineering, building science and renewable energy policy. Each volunteer took the time to learn about the NYSERDA High Impact Actions (HIAs) and organized on the best way to present them to the local leadership and move forward with implementation. NYSERDA has developed toolkits for each HIA and has contracted with local coordinators to assist communities interested in the program. Amy credits the help of the Eastern NY Clean Energy Communities team:

“Robyn Reynolds (CEC Coordinator) made it all possible for us with her guidance, enthusiasm and encouragement, and Greg Mumby is expertly coaching us through the next steps,” said Ms. Pokorny.  “It is a very satisfying experience to be accomplishing such useful work and achieve such important goals at the local level where we can really make meaningful changes. “

Through a creative and collaborative process that proved to be fun and productive, the group was able to win the Town’s designation by taking on Benchmarking, researching and meeting the requirements of the Unified Solar Permit, helping to promote local Solarize Campaigns, attending the Energy Code Enforcement Training and coordinating on energy issues with other towns and the City of Albany.

The Town of Knox completed five of 10 High Impact Action Items:
  • Benchmarking – Adopt a policy to report the energy use of buildings
  • Solarize – Undertake a local solarize campaign to increase the number of solar rooftops

Where there is passion, there is success. Congratulations to the Town of Knox and the volunteers that made it possible: Dee Woessner, Betty Ketcham, Laure-Jeanne Davignon, Robert Price, Rich Weltzin, Debra Nelson, Tara Murphy, Dan Sherman, Vasilios Lefkaditis and Dennis Barber.

The Tally: 32 Clean Energy Communities To-Date

Congratulations to the 32 municipalities that have been designated as Clean Energy Communities in Upstate Eastern NY. Each has completed at least four of 10 “high impact actions” that save energy and money and contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions – activities such as tracking energy use in municipal buildings, training for improved energy code enforcement, and enactment of policies to support solar energy.

Under the program, grants are available to 18 communities in each region of the state.  All city, town, village, and county governments, Indian tribes and nations may apply.  The grants range in size from $50,000 to $250,000 depending on the community’s population.  No local match is required.

The municipalities being recognized by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)’s Clean Energy Communities Program are:

CAPITAL REGION: Albany County, Town of Bethlehem, Schenectady County, City of Cohoes, Town of Niskayuna, Town of Knox, City of Albany

HUDSON VALLEY: Ulster County, Town of New Castle, Village of Dobbs Ferry, City of Kingston, Town of Red Hook, Town of Rosendale, Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, Village of Croton-on-Hudson, City of White Plains, City of Yonkers, Town of Ossining, Town of Somers, Town of Marbletown, City of New Rochelle, City of Beacon, Town of Mamaroneck, City of Peekskill, Village of Goshen

MOHAWK VALLEY: City of Gloversville, Village of Ilion, City of Rome, Village of Boonville

NORTH COUNTRY: Lewis County, Town of Franklin, Village of Canton

Clean Energy Communities

Congratulations to the newest municipalities that have been designated as Clean Energy Communities in Eastern NY. Each of these communities has completed at least four of 10 “high impact actions” that save energy and money and contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions – activities such as tracking energy use in municipal buildings, training for improved energy code enforcement, and policies to support solar energy.

Under the program, grants are available to 18 communities in each region of the state.  All city, town, village, and county governments, tribes, and nations may apply.  The grants range in size from $50,000 to $250,000 depending on the community’s population.  No local match is required.

The newest municipalities being recognized by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)’s Clean Energy Communities Program are:
MOHAWK VALLEY: City of Gloversville
HUDSON VALLEY: Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, Town of Rosendale, Village of Croton-on-Hudson, City of White Plains, City of Yonkers, Town of Ossining
CAPITAL REGION:  Albany County, Schenectady County, Town of Bethlehem

These communities join Ulster County, Kingston, Dobbs Ferry, Red Hook, and New Castle, which were previously designated.

Community Solar Takes Off – With a Home Heating Oil Company Leading the Way

One of the first Community Solar projects in New York State is on line, developed by an

Tom Kacandes, President, Inside Track Solar, Inc.

Ulster County building owner who employed a sophisticated tax strategy in the construction of a unique solar array. The discount electric power was then marketed to a small group of customers already doing business with a home heating oil company.

SMCBC, LLC hired Inside Track Solar, Inc. to lead the contracting, development, and construction of 532 bi-facial panels on a medical arts building at 918 Ulster Avenue, Kingston.

The solar panels were made in nearby Highland by Prism Solar Technologies, Inc.Inside Track Solar President Tom Kacandes specified the system to maximize the amount of power produced by elevating the panels higher above the roof than any previous system so that the bi-facial panels can make additional power from light reflected by a white roof installed for the purpose. The roof not only adds to the solar kilowatt-hours per year, but also rejects infrared solar rays to keep the building cooler in the summer, reducing cooling demand and improving tenant comfort.

Building owner Robert Ryan made an additional investment in new, more efficient HVAC units on the joint advice of his real estate consultant, Joseph Deegan, principal, SVN Deegan-Collins Commercial Real Estate Associates and Kacandes. The solar kilowatt-hours produced by the new system go directly to the grid and are allocated by Central Hudson Gas & Electric to two dozen residential customers of HeritagEnergy, a home heating oil company, via their new affiliate Heritage Solar, which charges a discounted rate for the solar credits they receive. Heritage Solar plans additional Community Distributed Generation or CDG projects now allowable under new state rules to serve many more of their 10,000+ residential customers.

The Ryan development is currently the only community solar project in Central Hudson, Orange & Rockland, Con Edison and PSEG Long Island territories. Kacandes now is helping the owners of HeritagEnergy commercialize a solar panel rack technology that allows panels to form a waterproof roof. More information about this technology, for which he holds two patents, can be found at

Buying Power 101: Municipal Solar Workshop

Building a more energy resilient New York starts with creating clean energy opportunities for communities.  Local governments can encourage smart and cost-effective energy choices in their communities, not only in government operations but in homes, businesses, and community institutions.

New York State municipalities can help decrease the cost of government operations through municipal solar, solar legislation, group purchasing, and locally-organized community education and outreach.

The Hudson Valley Regional Council is hosting a municipal solar workshop on May 9th, from 8:30am – 12pm at The Episcopal Church of St. Mary-in-the-Highlands in Cold Spring, NY, to help local governments understand the opportunities available to increase the number of solar rooftops in their jurisdiction through legislation, group purchasing, locally-organized community education and outreach.

Community Choice Aggregation speakers will include, from left, Jen Metzger, Citizens for Local Power; Glenn Weinberg, Joule Assets; Javier Barrios, Good Energy; and Louise Gava, MEGA.

Attend the Buying Power 101: Municipal Solar Workshop to:
– Learn about municipal and large scale solar and community choice aggregation.
– Access resources such as templates for legislation, procurement, and contracts.
– Take advantage of available funding and technical assistance opportunities.

Workshop Agenda

Register Now

Rome Uses Real-World Scenario To Demonstrate High Impact Action

Under the leadership of Mayor Jacqueline Izzo, the City of Rome has been working steadily toward achievement of four High Impact Actions (HIA) that will allow the city to qualify for $100,000 in NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities funding. The city initially documented its success with Clean Fleets, Benchmarking and Unified Solar Permit. Chief Code Inspection Officer Mark Domenico then took an innovative approach when he agreed to tackle Energy Code Enforcement Training as a fourth HIA, working with T.Y. Lin, an independent contractor to NYSERDA.  Two teams of local design professionals were at the time seeking city building permits for a convenience store and a commercial building retrofit, respectively. Domenico drew T.Y. Lin into the review process for the two projects as a way of providing hands-on code training for both his staff and the design teams.
Following site visits, T.Y. Lin, led by Scott Copp, audited the design documents for compliance with the newly updated state energy code, which went into effect in October, 2016. Deficiencies were noted and a follow-up meeting was held to review the findings.
“It provided a great learning experience for the design professionals,” said Domenico, who also is a registered architect.  “And it was a great way to make the design community aware of T.Y. Lin’s services, which are free of charge.”
Domenico’s team experienced benefits as well.
“Code enforcement officers have a heavy burden in that they need to be knowledgeable about all aspects of the building trades,” Domenico said. “The design professional is responsible for applying the state regulations and creating documents  but our challenge is to understand the plans, in a comprehensive way and issue building permits for construction . And the new energy code makes more measures mandatory than before.”

“Many design professionals have marginalized the submitted drawing materials and are producing plans based solely on what the owner is willing to pay for rather than submitting the complete information that is required to be shown as prescribed by state law,” Domenico said.  “This makes the task of performing adequate energy code reviews very difficult and typically results in resubmissions and project delays, he noted. On an annual basis, code enforcement officers must submit to the New York Department of State confirmation of the plan review and construction of specific energy features that were included in buildings constructed the prior year.
Wider outreach to design professionals is needed, Domenico said.  Regional chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the New York State Building Officers Council (NYSBOC) are well positioned to provide it.
Mayor Izzo commented,  “I’d like to thank NYSERDA and Mohawk Valley Economic Development District (MVEDD) with their assistance to the City of Rome to help further our mission to reduce emissions and implement energy savings projects. “

Village Incorporates Energy Code Training Into ‘Goshen Goes Green’

Goshen Mayor Kyle Roddey is justifiably proud that his Orange County village (population 5,454) is on its way towards becoming a NYSERDA Clean Energy Community.

“It’s part of a comprehensive plan that we call Goshen Goes Green,” said Roddey, who has been mayor for six years. “It grew out of our 2015 visioning process. Everyone helped  – from the village engineer who wrote the electric vehicle grant application to our volunteers.”

Most recently, Village Building Inspector Ted Lewis and two Department of Public Works employees attended energy code training. Consultants went on site with them to assess the Village’s five municipal buildings and used them as the basis for training the workers in the state energy code, which was updated in October, 2016.

The four High Impact Actions (HIAs) pursued by Village of Goshen are:
1-    Energy Code Enforcement Training
2-    Benchmarking
3-    Unified Solar Permit
4-    Clean Fleets (via Electric vehicle charging stations)

Roddey plans to fund a conversion to LED street lights with a $50,000 grant the Village anticipates receiving from the Clean Energy Communities program, once they complete the four HIAs.


CEC In The News

Here’s a selection of news stories from around the Eastern New York Territory that demonstrate the great work that communities are doing, as they learn about and join the Clean Energy Communities Program:
December 2016 Sullivan County Pushes For Clean Energy
Orange County Receives More Than $8.9 Million in Econ Development Grants
Rosendale to Offer Free Charging Stations for Electric Cars
January 2017 Scarsdale Announces New Food Scrap Recycling Program
NYSERDA Announces New Castle is First Small Community in New York State to Earn Clean Energy Community Designation
February 2017 Rosendale Secures $18K Grant From NYS for Electric Car Charging Station
A Clean Energy Future Thanks to Grassroots and Grass-tops
March 2017 Red Hook looks to use $100,000 grant for Town Hall to become net carbon neutral
 April 2017 Red Hook Considering Ways to Encourage Conversion to Electric Vehicles
Mohawk Valley
December 2016 Once an Oil Executive, Now a Crusader Against Fossil Fuel Stocks
February 2017 Otsego County Conservation Association will begin its “Be Informed!” lecture series from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday with a talk by Dan Sullivan of the Mohawk Valley Regional Development District.
March 2017 Ilion to Install New LED Street Lights
City Gets Clean Energy Honor
Frankfort Seeks Clean Energy Community Status
Fulton County Seeking Grant. Would Help Fund Energy Efficient Upgrade to Office. 
North Country
December 2016 Champlain Exploring Clean Energy Options
Lewis Officials Have Good Start With Clean Energy Communities Initiative
January 2017 Lowville, Harrisburg Awarded $29,000 to Review Number Three Wind Project
February 2017 Champlain Continues Push to Go Green



High-Impact Actions In Our Communities, Large and Small


Louis W. Allstadt

In each edition of this e-newsletter, we’ll focus on two communities that are working on energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainability. This time, our spotlight is on Cooperstown and New Rochelle.

Cooperstown is a small village making a big impact. For Lou Allstadt, a trustee and climate activist who calls the Otsego County village of 2,000 home, a point of pride is that the municipality has made the business case for energy efficiency. As one of New York State’s 190 Climate Smart Communities, the Village has taken a host of actions toward sustainability, and is now deciding how to translate these accomplishments into Clean Energy Communities High Impact Actions.

“We’ve been very careful to ensure that the energy saving projects we undertake have both cost savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, says Allstadt, a former Mobil Oil executive.

The Village learned about benchmarking energy use from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Communities program and has collected baseline data on energy uses in buildings, vehicles, sewer and water plants and street lighting. The analysis of that data is now being put into a plain language report that “will be easy for anyone to understand,” says Allstadt. “However, we started working on some of the obvious candidates for reducing energy even before all the data had been collected.”

The Village also:
• Insulated the Village firehouse ceiling and doors, upgraded windows, converted to LED lighting and installed a high efficiency heat pump for cooling and heating.
• is saving fuel and electricity at the large historic village hall with heating system improvements, additional insulation and the first stage of conversion to LED lighting.
• converted a portion of its owned streetlights to LEDs, which prompted further efforts to convert the majority of streetlights owned NYSEG to achieve additional savings.
• already has regulations that provide a simple process for approval of solar energy installations on homes and businesses, which should streamline the process of adopting the New York State Unified Solar Permit, a NYSERDA High Impact Action.
• has added a cost/benefit analysis of fuel efficiencies for purchasing decisions on municipal work vehicles and trolleys.
• with a group of nearby municipalities, has been investigating a solar photovoltaic installation to supply electricity. A developer is being sought.
• has been working with Constellation Energy to analyze possible upgrades of pumps and motors at the water treatment plant and additional LED lighting upgrades, which could count toward the Clean Energy Upgrades High Impact Actions.
• is including energy efficiency in designing upcoming sewer plant upgrades.
• has identified potential locations for EV charging stations.
• passed a climate change resolution that has been picked up by several other towns.

In the Mohawk Valley, Dan Sullivan of the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District provides Clean Energy Communities assistance to municipalities. Reach him at and (315) 866-4671.

LED Leadership From New Rochelle

Two hundred miles to the south, in Westchester County, the City of New Rochelle is out ahead on the High Impact Action of changing over its 7,000 street lights to LEDs. Here are fast facts on the NewRoc project, according to Scott Pickup, operations director for the Department of Public Works:


Mayor Noam Bramson at LED street light ribbon cutting

  • The City is financing the lights via a $2.95M Energy Performance Contract.
  • The project developer, Lumen Light Solutions, will be paid $650,000.
  • Annual savings of 3 million kilowatt hours will account for a 64% reduction in energy costs.
  • Initially, the city is set to save approximately $270,000 annually, until the new streetlights are paid off.
  • Once the lights have been fully paid for (approximately year 8), the annual savings will balloon to around $638,000.
  • Over the estimated 20-year lifespan of the LED fixtures, the city will save upwards of $9 million.

In the Hudson Valley , Carla Castillo of Hudson Valley Regional Council provides Clean Energy Communities assistance to the region’s municipalities. Carla can be reached at and  (845) 564-4075.

Municipalities of any size can benefit from the NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities program, as these stories demonstrate. Don’t delay – apply for Clean Energy Communities today.


Meet the Clean Energy Communities Coordinators

From left: Dan Sullivan, Jamie Rogers, Robyn Reynolds and Carla Castillo

From left: Dan Sullivan, Jamie Rogers, Robyn Reynolds and Carla Castillo

– Regional planning expertise
– Capital CarShare board member
– Solarize Albany team member

Robyn joined the Capital District Regional Planning Commission staff in 2016 as a Senior Planner. Robyn previously worked in the private sector as a sustainability planner, assisting municipalities with renewable energy implementation and sustainable development. Robyn has a B.A. in International Relations and Environmental Studies from SUNY Geneseo and a Master of Regional Planning from the University at Albany, SUNY. Robyn is a board member for Capital CarShare . 518-453-0850

HUDSON VALLEY: Carla Castillo
– Town of Cornwall Conservation Advisory Council
– Community development expertise
– Middle school mom extraordinaire
– School recycling advocate

Prior to joining Hudson Valley Regional Council, Carla worked in Philadelphia, where she led the transformative sustainability and neighborhood revitalization efforts of NKCDC. With Recyclebank, Carla inspired city-wide residents to recycle more through Philadelphia Recycling Rewards. At the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and the Reinvestment Fund, she stabilized distressed neighborhoods through the development of 550+ homes as an affordable housing lender and technical assistance provider to community development corporations. Also at the Reinvestment Fund, Carla worked with internationally-based microfinance CEOs to advance the micro-finance industry.

Carla volunteers in the Town of Cornwall, chairing the Cornwall Conservation Advisory Council and working with select Cornwall Central School District schools to implement school-based recycling programs.  (845) 564-4075

HUDSON VALLEY: Europa McGovern
– Educator
– Environmentalist
– Biker

Europa previously worked for NGOs and both state and national parks in the Hudson Valley and beyond. Europa has participated in research in the tidal wetlands and the fisheries of the Hudson River Estuary, and she has shared our rich local history of environmental activism and conservation with schoolchildren and the public alike. She has also worked with dedicated volunteers to enhance programming and essential public support in our parks, including Walkway Over the Hudson State Park and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Historic Site. Her interests also include sustainable agriculture and waste management, alternative transportation, green urban planning, and environmental justice. When not working in support of the Clean Energy Communities program, she may be found riding her bike to her local farm or about town, or in the many beautiful outdoor spaces of the Hudson Valley hiking or biking.

– Educator
– Coach
– Organic Farmer
– Chair, Town of Ritchfield Comprehensive Plan Committee
Before joining Mohawk Valley Economic Development District, Dan had a 40-year career as a high school English teacher and coach (high school and NCAA Divisions I and III Track & Field and Cross-Country). In 2011, Dan and his wife Teresa took up organic vegetable farming at their farm in Richfield Springs.

Dan is a member of the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank Committee; Chairman of Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful; Member of the Town of Richfield Planning Board; Chairman of the Town of Richfield Comprehensive Plan Committee, and a trustee of both the Otsego Land Trust and Otsego 2000. (315) 866-4671

– Former mayor, Lake Placid
– Essex County IDA board member
– Maple syrup maker
– Sportsman

Prior to joining Adirondack North Country Association in 2010, Jamie served as mayor of Lake Placid, where he implemented innovative municipal energy saving programs that reduced the municipal electric load by a whopping 10 percent. He brought a free public transportation system to the village and developed a multi-year budget system coupled with asset management planning. Jamie leads ANCA’s implementation of NYSERDA’s Green Jobs, Green NY program and through this work has helped hundreds of homeowners and businesses access free energy assessments and incentives for efficiency upgrades.

Jamie is a member of the boards of Essex County Historical Society, Essex County Industrial Development Agency, and the Upstate chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. When he is not working, golfing, skiing, fishing, or sailing, he can be found making maple syrup at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid. (518) 891-6200