May 14,2014 - Town of Red Hook

Minutes of Meeting
May 14, 2019
Members present: Chairwoman Laurie Husted, Sarah Imboden, Dr. Jane Ferguson,
Mike Zelie, Denis Collet (7:20 P.M.)
Absent: Susan Ellis, Anne Rubin, Karen Schneller-McDonald, Ross Gould
Guests: Susan Gillespie and Jess Scott from Citizens for Local Power
CALL TO ORDER / QUORUM: Chairwoman Laurie Husted called the meeting to
order at 7:15 P.M. A quorum was present by 7:20 P.M.
MINUTES OF THE MAY 9, 2014 MEETING: The minutes of the May 9 meeting
were approved with a motion made by Laurie Husted and seconded by Mike Zelie.
RUTH OJA ENVIRONMENTAL SCHOLARSHIP: Laurie Husted reported that it
was disappointing that no student applied for the scholarship. Anne Rubin hand
delivered the fliers with information about applications to the science teachers, and
Laurie e-mailed them all. One student started an application, but never completed it,
though he was called and encouraged to do so. It is the first year that the scholarship
was not awarded. Denis Collet asked how else the scholarship was promoted. Sarah
Imboden noted that she was frustrated that there was not a list of all the scholarship
opportunities for Red Hook and Rhinebeck schools printed in the paper. CAC members
discussed that it seems that the Guidance Counselor's office should be responsible for
that. There was additional discussion of “marketing” the scholarship – asking science
teachers to nominate likely candidates, so that they or parents could be encouraged to
apply. Laurie said that she would like a CAC member to take on the project and plan a
time line to get ahead of the process next year.
PLANNING BOARD MINUTES REVIEW: Mike Zelie reported that there was not
much relevant to CAC issues.
WASTE SUBCOMMITTEE: Laurie Husted reported that she put in a call to Julian
Lesser before the meeting. He said that he took the winter off to become a Master
Composter and is finding that it is a more difficult market than he thought. He is
working to proceed with a composting business. The Town of Woodstock made a
pledge to compost in their facilities, so they would be the first clients. Laurie added that
Julian needs community partnership help to promote this and while she can give him
names of possible clients, she thought that she would contact Lindsay Carille, Dutchess
County Recycling Coordinator to ask if the County Recycling Plan would include any
enforcement of recycling regulations that are mandated by law. Rethinking recycling
efforts might be an opening for a proactive project like Julian's.
Sarah Imboden reported that she had investigated options for holding a paper shredding
day and found that the company that does the shredding holds most of their events at
banks. She contacted them through their website, but has not received a reply. Another
possibility would be approaching banks or tax preparers to see if they would consider
sponsoring such an event.
ENERGY SUBCOMMITTEE: Laurie Husted informed Denis Collet that Supervisor
Sue Crane is interested in having an energy audit for the Town Highway Garage. Laurie
will speak further with Denis.
Climate Smart Communities: Laurie reported on the meeting held on Thursday, May 8
with Angela Vincent and Ana Gail Hagerup from Mid Hudson Climate Smart
Communities. In attendance were Supervisor Sue Crane, Deputy Mayor of Tivoli Joel
Griffith, Laurie, Susan Ellis, Sarah Imoboden and Zoie, a student representing the
Village of Red Hook. The discussion included the the request from Climate Smart
Communities for a pledge of action on seven adaptations to unavoidable climate change,
and the suggestion that the group reach out to the Disaster Preparedness Committee of
the Town. The group will review the Adaptation Tool Kit developed by Climate Smart
Intern: Laurie Husted reported that the Town approved the use of $1,000 from the
Unified Solar Permit rebate to hire an intern for work on energy issues. A Bard College
student has expressed interest.
Apple Blossom Day - May 10, 2014: Laurie Husted reported that the day went really
well, with 35 new people signing up for the home energy audit. The location was good
and Laurie would try it again.
Transportation: Laurie Husted reported that she, Brenda Cagle and Paula Schoonmaker
had a preview of the proposed plans for a new application for a Transportation
Alternatives Projects (TAP) grant to do the sidewalk on the east side of Route 9 from the
Town Hall to Hannaford's. Originally the grant request had been for $249,999, but the
new cost estimate is $800,000. An engineer is looking at it to see if there are errors in
duplication. Sarah Imboden suggested comparison of the recent sidewalk grants done in
the Village of Red Hook.
CITIZENS FOR LOCAL POWER (CLP): CAC members were introduced to Susan
Gillespie and Jess Scott of Citizens for Local Power, who also work at Bard College.
Laurie Husted noted that the CAC had reviewed the resolution and proposals from them
and heard that they had a good meeting with the Town Board on Tuesday, May 13.
Susan G. said that the purpose of this meeting with the CAC was to explore ways to go
forward. She felt that Red Hook needs to be playing a leadership role in Dutchess
County. Her last meeting with the CAC was the night before the Public Service
Commission (PSC) approved the Central Hudson – Fortis merger. Citizens for Local
Power is an entirely volunteer grassroots group with a mission to help create a locally
based GREEN energy economy. They have been reaching out to communities to bring
up issues such as the unfortunate development of the New Capacity Zone requirement
for energy providers. They held two public forums that were well attended to explain
how the energy grid works. They have done research to understand the New Capacity
Zone, which is very complex, and they have found that municipalities are really looking
for information. In fact, some would like to hire them to have the resource of someone
who has researched energy issues and follow what is happening with utilities and at the
PSC and federal level. They have gathered information on steps that communities can
take that are positive.
Community Choice Aggregation (CCA): Susan Gillespie stated that one of the major
ideas that Citizens for Local Power has proposed is the idea of Community Choice
Aggregation. CCA is the type of project that enables a municipality, or group of
municipalities to aggregate their citizens (there is an opt out provision), so that they can
negotiate to buy power. This gives the potential for the CCA to contract for better rates if
they have a large ratepayer base, opt for greener energy supplies and put some of rate
savings into programs that would encourage energy efficiency or renewable generation.
Denis asked what would force the utilities to negotiate with the CCA. Susan replied that
New York State would have to pass enabling legislation to grant municipalities the right
to do the aggregation. Jess Scott noted that currently the power source and distribution
are two separate parts of your energy supply. Your energy company controls the
distribution, but consumers have the option of contracting with the energy supply of
their choice. With aggregation, there would be greater negotiation for rates. Jane
Ferguson asked how many communities would need to join together to achieve the
marketing power. Susan replied that reaching out to Kingston and other communities in
Dutchess and Ulster County might give a large enough group. Mike Zelie asked if there
were enough renewable energy sources available. Susan replied yes, and there would be
more. She cited the case of Marin County in California, which signed a multi-year
option with a new wind generating company, which meant that they could get funding
for their project. Sarah Imboden asked what impact the New Capacity Zone (NCZ)
would have on the options of a Mid-Hudson Consortium for purchasing power, noting
that she was not aware of much “Green Energy” production in the NCZ. If it requires
that 80% be produced in the zone, it would limit the choices of “Green Energy” sources.
Susan Gillespie said that the Energy Service Companies (ESCO) could probably get
around that, because they are aggregators who purchase from many different suppliers.
Consumers who have chosen to pay a “green fee” on their energy bills are already using
“Green Energy.” Susan G. said that a CCA could start by purchasing from an ESCO
and then look into new generation opportunities. Susan G. suggested that a customer
feasibility study would be a good start. It would take more than just lower rates to
interest communities; there needs to be a County- wide effort.
Solar Energy Opportunities – Net metering and Solar Farms: Denis Collet said that if
shuffling the decks and trying to give more options gives the same infrastructure that
exists today in order to lower costs, then he isn't interested. He wants to see the PSC
give enabling legislation to municipalities to develop solar farms. As it is now, Central
Hudson controls distribution and requires the meter to be on the property that it serves.
Susan G. noted that there are two bills under discussion in Albany to promote net
metering and community solar, and the CAC should consider pushing for them. Denis
said that since there are only 30% of residences with adequate solar exposure, there must
be support for opportunities to solarize a community, perhaps using brownfields or other
suitable sites to not only reduce costs, but improve distribution and prevent disaster. But
it can not be done at this time. Susan G. suggested looking at Freedom Solar Alliance, a
group which sources community funds ( not really donations or investments) into a bank
account for establishing a large solar project. The alliance has purchased a piece of
property near Kingston for just such a possibility. Denis felt that more energy needs to
be spent pushing the PSC to do its job. Susan G. said that with the New York Energy
Plan and REV process trying to rethink the energy system, the PSC seems to be more
open to some of these ideas. But there is more discussion of the market conditions,
rather that specific ideas for action. Jane Ferguson thought it hard to believe that in rural
counties there is enough rate base. But if cities, and counties join together, there would
be enough leverage.
Transmission Lines Discussions: Neither the developers nor the PSC have addressed the
question about how any of this will support distributed generation. Susan G. cited an
example of a transmission line project of Fortis in British Columbia. Fortis B.C. stated a
need for transmission upgrades and built enormous transmission towers which lower
property values. As a result, rates increased by about 60%, but there was almost no
additional energy being transmitted from these wires. It was purely commercial
growth, because the company is able to charge out cost out the new transmission on
customers' bills. Gov. Cuomo said State needs one billion dollars in new transmission.
Two private developers said that they could do it for 1.2 billion dollars. Boundless
Energy has made a proposal that is cheaper and less invasive.
New Document to review about running a municipal consortium: Susan Gillespie
presented a new document about running a municipal consortium. She said that the CLP
is not doing any formal work to develop a Municipal Consortium, but is working with
municipalities to assist their efforts. She noted that some of that effort is to encourage
unified solar permitting, which Red Hook has done.
Street Lighting changed to LED's: Another interest is working on street lights, and
Susan G. asked what the CAC members thought about that. Sarah and Laurie said that
the Village of Red Hook could use help with that. Susan G. noted that the Town of
Rosendale and City of Kingston have done studies on how much they could save, and
suggested that there be a joint meeting to discuss it. Other issues raised were if Central
Hudson owns the poles and municipalities buy the lights, who maintains them and how
to accomplish cooperative purchasing. Denis said that perhaps a private contractor
could set up cooperative which would compete with labor costs and contracts. Susan G.
noted that Central Hudson will remove their lights gratis.
Sarah asked what a consortium would do if all the Towns are in different situations.
Susan G. replied that first it would be a forum for information; then if communities
decided to work together, they could make a buyers' cooperative. Jess S. added that if
all communities did a lighting assessment it would be helpful, and the others could share
their experience. Laurie concluded that the CAC would like to have a program
organized for street lights.
Other activities that CLP would be doing is looking for the best opportunities for
Alternative Generation. There are also issues about gas production and transmission
that will use a lot of capital commitment. Whatever infrastructure is allowed for
fracking, consumers will be paying the cost for it for 30 years.
Grants and Fundraising for Municipal Energy Projects: Grant proposals need shared
goals so that different Towns do not work against each other. CLP has hopes of
fundraising to support collaboration. Sarah said that if a few people from Dutchess
County, and a few people from Ulster County would meet to agree on goals such as
saving money, saving energy and being greener, they might produce a framework for a
consortium. Denis felt that putting sweat equity into a joint grant and how to get it done
would require some formality with clear objectives and goals. Susan G. said that the
CLP and consortium would be two separate entities. The CLP would help a consortium
with educational forums, but the consortium needs to have its own agreements. Susan
G. added that CLP started with breakfast seminars which had no less than 70 attending.
What does the CAC want to happen?: Sarah feels that efficiency/ financial goals need to
be stressed first, then sustainability. Denis wants to push for municipal solar projects
and make the PSC justify rate increases. Susan G. said that at this time Central Hudson
makes it too hard to connect to the grid. New Paltz has proposed a solar site at the New
Paltz landfill; Central Hudson will assess the site and tell the municipality how much it
will cost to connect to the grid, which negates much of the benefit. Municipalities need
to focus more on taking control of their energy future. Laurie said that the CAC needs a
check list of suggestions and actions to cut the clutter of often conflicting information.
Summary: CLP and CAC members agreed that:
1) A meeting to discuss street lighting options should happen.
2) CLP and CAC members should talk again about a simple agreement to do
fundraising and starting to form a consortium. (Street lighting might be a first
project for a collective grant to see how the consortium works.)
3) CLP can put together a seminar series. It could include economic issues, what can
be done to promote feasibility of municipal projects and how to build on the
strengths that make municipalities unique.
4) The CAC and CLP should look for concrete, practical projects. (Susan G. noted
that the Town of Esopus is planning a solar farm and it should be followed.)
CAC members thanked Susan Gillespie and Jess Scott for attending the meeting and
sharing the work of Citizens for Local Power.
ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned at 8:50 P.M.
NEXT MEETING: Wednesday June 11, 2014 at 7 P.M. at the Town Hall
Respectfully submitted,
Susan H. Ellis, Secretary