Rivertowns grant, SW Annual mtg, B2020 Food Forum
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January 2017

Here are updates news from the world of Sustainable Westchester: 
This hard-working team of passionate and knowledgeable volunteers and supportive municipal leaders has secured support for much-needed and high-potential planning work for the shared Route 9 Corridor. Congratulations!

$150,000 Grant Awarded to Rivertowns Coalition to Plan Bike and Pedestrian Improvements for Route 9
Funds from the New New York Bridge Community Benefits Program to Support Route 9 Active Transportation Conceptual Design Plan

The New New York Bridge Community Benefits Program has awarded $150,000 to a coalition comprised of the Villages of Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow to study and present a comprehensive plan to improve travel and safety along Route 9 (Broadway) for all modes of transportation, including bicycle, pedestrian, transit users and vehicles.
Read the full press release (draft at time of writing):

Annual Members’ Meeting Highlights Accomplishments, New Initiatives
The Annual Meeting of the Members of Sustainable Westchester was held Wednesday, January 18 at Westchester County Center. The many supervisors, mayors, and administrators present were clearly enthusiastic about their participation in Sustainable Westchester and what we have been able to achieve together in a very short time.
Besides the usual procedural formalities, including election of directors, the meeting featured presentations on four of SW’s innovative programs: the Municipal Solar Buyers Group, Community Choice Aggregation (Westchester Power), the Clean Transportation Project, and Solarize Westchester 2.0.

Dan Chorost gave the presentation on the Municipal Solar Buyers Group, which we featured in last month’s newsletter. “I know most of you have just started hearing about it, but it’s something on which we’ve been working really hard for the past two years,” he said. “This is one of our flagship programs at Sustainable Westchester, and we’re really excited about it.” Chorost noted the group’s goal is to have PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) signed by March, and have PV systems running in 2017. If your municipality has not yet signed on or investigated this opportunity, here is the list of contacts to get you started.

Westchester Power has continued its leadership role in Community Choice Aggregation, with Dan Welsh as Director since last fall. This first CCA program in New York State has participation from 20 municipalities with some 100,000 accounts, and 14 municipalities chose 100% renewable energy. New York State’s Public Service Commission acknowledged WP’s success by issuing statewide regulations enabling more CCAs 20 days after WP’s launch. Many surrounding counties are now following WP’s lead, and it is even serving as a model internationally, with a Japanese contingent visiting in December to learn more.
SW’s international connections grow richer - Executive Director Bob Elliott reported that board member Joe Carvin is working to bring his Finnish connections to bear on a possible joint conference this Fall. Keep watch for more news!

Welsh stressed that, while electricity rates constantly fluctuate, their historical trend is to inevitably rise. Thus, the ability for the group to negotiate a lower rate and lock it in with a multi-year contract is a great advantage for customers. Based on the amount of green power being supplied, results to date show the equivalent of a total of 164,000 tons of CO2 being avoided. “If we just stop here and do what we’re doing, we’ve accomplished some great things, but we’re looking towards the future,” said Welsh. “That means taking that leverage and using it to build local solar. We can also leverage it into energy efficiency programs, microgrids and things like battery storage, as they become a reality.”
Standing in for Ron Kamen, SW’s project manager for this initiative, Bob Elliott gave a wide-ranging presentation about the Clean Transportation Project,  one of SW’s most exciting initiatives. Focused primarily on facilitating the purchase of electric vehicle fleets for municipalities, it is based on the Westchester Climate Action Studies finding that fleets are responsible for 60% of all municipal operation greenhouse gas emissions, as well as 60% of all municipal energy costs. The rationale for electric fleets has accelerated as electric vehicles have gained range and come down in price, and a wider variety of vehicles have become available.

In addition to presenting examples of municipalities across the country that have successfully converted their fleets, Elliott highlighted timely funding opportunities, including New York State Clean Vehicles & Infrastructure offers. “A lot of this you can do yourself,” Elliott told municipal officials, “but we think it would make more sense to work through us, since we have the staff available to make these applications. We can look at your fleets, see which vehicles would work best for you, what range you need, which are mission compatible.”
Solarize Westchester 2.0 offers group purchasing opportunities for both residences and small businesses, as was explained by project coordinators Nina Orville and Nicola Coddington. When the first Solarize initiative of 2014-2016 ended, inquiries were still coming in from many people, and SW stepped forward to help launch Solarize Westchester 2.0. Orville said Solarize initiatives are designed to reduce barriers to going solar—the main ones being cost, reliability, complexity and inertia—by reducing installers’ costs and passing on the savings, and reducing the need for potential customers to navigate all the details on their own.

Important to the process is a deadline to apply, which is actually coming up very soon—community RFI are due February 2nd at 5 pm—so anyone interested is encouraged to download the RFI documents at asap!
Words of encouragement

Chair Chris Burdick emphasized that next year, attendees to the annual meeting should expect to hear about water, transportation and materials management in addition to the programs that were highlighted this year.

Mamaroneck Supervisor Nancy Seligson, a member of SW’s board, had a personal message for all: “As a chief elected official, I just want to let all of you know that it is more important than ever to be taking these steps on a local level and creating a regional effort in sustainability. We’re going into very uncertain times, and it’s really important for all of us to do whatever we can right on the ground, because we are where the rubber meets the road.”

And Nicole Coddington of Abundant Efficiency added, “Some of the programs we talked about this morning started with the work of volunteers; the work on the part of volunteers who are now part of Sustainable Westchester cannot be underestimated. As the organization goes forward, I want to encourage all of you in your municipalities to try and engage your local residents as volunteers for these topics, because we would not be here now without the work of those volunteers, and we need to organize and structure those working groups of volunteers so we can continue to build on that.”

Register now - this is sure to be a great event!
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