Newsletter, June 2015
Webinar TODAY at 12 noon on how to qualify for Solarize Westchester. To register, see Solarize report below!
Sustainable Westchester is off and running, with achievements, meetings, events, collaborations and awards happening on a daily basis. One of the major strengths of this organization is the base of concerned and informed volunteers from around the county. Please help us to extend that reach by sharing this newsletter with your neighbors and friends, and signing up here for messages that will pertain to your particular area of interest. We welcome your involvement and ideas about the future of this very new organization! Send your thoughts to GoGreen@SustainableWestchester.org
NEW LEADERSHIP FOR A NEW ORGANIZATION
In March, Chris Burdick, Supervisor of the Town of Bedford, and Mike Gordon, founder and CEO of Joule Assets, Inc., were elected co-chairs of the Board of Sustainable Westchester. Then in May, after an intense search and selection process (ably managed by Board member Sara Goddard), Leo Wiegman was chosen to serve as our first Executive Director.
As Mayor of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, Leo was a leader in the formation and success of the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium, a predecessor organization to Sustainable Westchester. Author of two books and dozens of articles related to sustainability, Leo currently serves as First Vice-President and chair of the Green Committee of the Westchester Municipal Officials Association.
In announcing Leo’s appointment, Chris Burdick said, “Leo is the perfect person to get this organization up and running. His experience in municipal governance and in the clean energy sector will serve all our members well as we develop new and exciting ways for residents and businesses to save energy and money, while protecting the environment.”
MUNICIPAL SOLAR BUYERS GROUP
Our long-awaited Municipal Solar Buyers Group has officially launched with the designation of Structured Finance Solutions, a division of PNC Equipment Finance, LLC, and GP Renewables & Trading, to serve as co-advisors on the project. At the moment, 17 member municipalities across the County have succeeded in identifying 75 potential sites for solar installations. An RFP for firms that are interested in developing solar installations on properties owned and identified by participating member communities is available at www.sustainablewestchester.org and is returnable by July 10.
The goal of the MSBG is to create cost savings through aggregated deployment of clean energy for Sustainable Westchester and its members. By aggregating many small to mid-size systems across Westchester, we expect to have a critical mass that will be attractive to solar developers and financing sources, so that the group can secure the best possible pricing for the whole.
Contact: Leo Wiegman -- firstname.lastname@example.org.
COMMUNITY CHOICE AGGREGATION
By an order of the Public Service Commission in February, Sustainable Westchester was chosen to implement the very first community choice aggregation (CCA) pilot program in New York State, a cutting-edge initiative that allows municipalities to put out for bid the total amount of natural gas or electricity being purchased by local residents and small businesses. Sustainable Westchester is empowered to negotiate rates with Con Edison and NYSEG on behalf of local residents and small businesses which can choose to opt in or out. Co-chair Mike Gordon is spearheading the effort to bring as many member communities on board as possible. Find updates on CCA at our website under “Community Toolkits,” including a draft local law for enabling CCA and the related draft resolutions.
Contact: Mike Gordon, MGordon@JouleAssets.com
NY PRIZE COMMUNITY GRID COMPETITION
In February 2015, Governor Cuomo launched the NY Prize Community Grid Competition award to fund feasibility studies for communities to develop micro-grids. As noted in NYSERDA RFP 3044, a community micro-grid exists “for the purpose of maintaining electric services for the participating customers, facilities and the community at large … at times when weather events or other emergencies severely disrupt the capacity of the local distribution and transmission system to serve essential customer needs.” News about winners of the NY Prize will be coming out soon.
Is your municipality interested in participating in Solarize Westchester? Please complete the Request for Information to be considered for selection.for Round 2. The form is available here with a June 29th deadline for submission. A webinar describing the application, the selection criteria and what makes a successful Solarize campaign is scheduled for TODAY, June 9th at noon – register at http://solarizewestchestercommunityrfi.eventbrite.com.
The first round Solarize campaigns (Bedford-Mt. Kisco, Cortlandt-Croton, Larchmont-Mamaroneck, Ossining-Briarcliff) are concluding this month and have been a great success thus far. Well over one thousand people have explored installing solar and many of those have signed contracts or are in the process of signing contracts. Solarize Westchester makes it easy for both homeowners and commercial property owners to obtain high-quality solar installations at reduced cost. Federal and state tax incentives, incentives from NYSERDA and low negotiated pricing through the Solarize Westchester program make this an optimal time to install solar. Questions? Contact Nina Orville, Program Manager, at Nina@AbundantEfficiency.com.
The Energy Committee has been busy developing several initiatives, some of them as first-in-New York-State, including the Community Choice Aggregation program and the Municipal Solar Buyers Group. The Committee has also worked to facilitate applications by nine Westchester cities, Towns and villages for the NY Prize Microgrid Competition. We expect the Governor’s office to announce the winners of these fully funded Feasibility Studies shortly. (See the Program Reports above for more details.)
Co-chair: Jean Hamerman, Jean.Hamerman@gmail.com
Co-chair & Board Liaison: Mike Gordon, MGordon@JouleAssets.com
This committee is enthusiastically moving forward to promote waste reduction and recycling practices with such programs as “Moving to a Near-Zero Waste Community” and a discussion of NYS’s Beyond Waste Report recommendations. Subcommittees on Education/Outreach and Organic Waste/Composting have been formed. The Committee is finalizing a survey to get baseline data on waste practices, share best practices and develop case studies as well as creating a textile recycling toolkit for municipalities. Watch for upcoming events including a movie night and a session on “How to Organize a Waste Reduction Campaign for your Town and School.” Interest is running high on the proposed County-wide plastic bag ban. Please contact Millie Magraw, County Legislator Catherine Parker’s aide at email@example.com for information on how your municipality can support for the legislation. Please join our mailing list!
Co-chair: Petra Kandus, firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-chair: Jean Hamerman, email@example.com
Co-chair: Braeden Cohen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Board Liaison: Sara Goddard, GoddardSW@gmail.com
TRANSPORTATION & LAND USE
Our members have been busy with their own local projects and initiatives such as New Rochelle celebrating the addition of the first electric car to their fleet and Pound Ridge reviewing their Scotts Corners pedestrian redesign. Initial exploration of Metropool services has yielded a proposal for a Rideshare portal at Harrison School District and a shuttle in Lewisboro's Vista Hamlet.
SW finds the greatest potential and leverage in projects that connect multiple members and are therefore very excited that some of the River Towns are coming together to transform the Rte 9 corridor, using a Complete Streets training event to kick things off and bring the towns up to the same level of understanding. SW is offering support and as usual will seek opportunities to create replicable models in the process. The committee was a proud sponsor of the Pedal & Party on the Bronx River Parkway last weekend on Sunday, June 7.
Co-chair: Dan Welsh, Dan.Welsh@runbox.com
Co-chair & Board Liaison: Peter McCartt, PMcCartt@GreenEastchester.com
Sustainable Westchester’s Water Committee will hold its first meeting on Wednesday, June 24, from 7:00-8:30 pm. This will be an organizational meeting open to all, with participatory discussion and activities to explore what topics are of greatest interest to potential committee volunteers—i.e., who wants to work on what! Refreshments will be served (please bring your reusable cups/bottles if you have them). Location: Greenburgh Town Hall, 177 Hillside Ave., Greenburgh, NY in the cafeteria (all the way to the back of the building). For more info or to RSVP (helpful for a head count but not necessary), contact: Co-chair Nikki Coddington at Nicola@abundantefficiency.com, 914-325-0058.
Co-chair & Board Liaison: Nancy Seligson, email@example.com
Please feel free to share this newsletter with friends and family, as well as those who are already involved in sustainability issues at the local level. Not on our mailing list yet? Click here to sign up! And don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and check our website www.sustainablewestchester.org frequently for the latest news and updates. We want to hear from you -- the power of the Sustainable Westchester concept is that we are all in this together!