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

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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.


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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



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.

DEC Makes Second Aggregate Purchase of Zero-Emission Vehicles

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in conjunction with Office of General Services (OGS) is in the process of developing a second aggregate purchase of zero-emission vehicles this winter. This initiative will increase the number of fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly assets in government fleets across the state. During the aggregate purchase in spring 2016, the initiative allowed for the purchase price of 63 Chevy Volts at roughly an 11 percent discount, and significant savings are anticipated in this round as well.

There will be a few changes from the previous aggregate purchase, including:
Instead of choosing one type of vehicle for the mini-bid, a more generic minimum set of specifications will allow bids from different automakers, increasing the competition to lower the end price.

Two separate aggregate purchases will be awarded, one for plug-in hybrids and one for pure battery electric vehicles.

Municipalities may save even more on their vehicle purchase through the Climate Smart Communities Municipal Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) and ZEV Infrastructure Rebate Program, which offers rebates to municipalities for costs associated with the purchase or lease (for at least 36 months) of eligible clean vehicles.

OGS and DEC are in the early stages of organizing this aggregate purchase and will have more details soon, including the vehicle specifications. Orders will be due to OGS Fleet Management in Mid-February. The specific date has not yet been released. If you have any questions or comments please contact or .

Mohawk Workshop Sparks Interest in PACE NY

Six Mohawk Valley municipalities are now studying the adoption of Energize NY Finance. Clean Energy Communities Coordinator Dan Sullivan reports he is in discussions with the cities of Amsterdam, Rome and Utica and the counties of Montgomery, Herkimer and Otsego County, as a result of a Nov. 16th gathering hosted by Mohawk Valley Economic Development District (MVEDD), where Sullivan is based.

Energize NY Finance leverages PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing to help commercial and non-profit property owners undertake deep energy improvements.
Projects include energy efficiency and renewable energy for commercial, multi-family, light industrial and nonprofit owned buildings.

In attendance were, from right: Joseph Del Sindaco, Energize NY/Energy Improvement Corporation and regional PACE-NY representative; Dan Sullivan, Clean Energy
Communities Coordinator, MVEDD; and Karen Sullivan, Otsego County Planning Director. Also in attendance were Joe Caruso, Executive Director, MVEDD, and Jack Spaeth, Utica Industrial Development Authority director.