Climate Smart Task Force (CSTF)
We had a great time with our partners from the Conservation
Advisory Commission at the 2022 Arlington Street Fair!
Read the full press release detailing this exciting milestone.
Recently we also achieved designation as a Clean Energy Community in New York State,
making us eligibile for a variety of grants to further our work!
The Climate Smart The Task Force meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7 pm, and meetings currently take place via Zoom. Zoom meeting details are provided on the town calendar. Please see posted agenda for more information, and watch for us to return to the Town Hall. A summary of each meeting can be found below, and full minutes are available using the link above.
Susan Karnes HechtCSTF Committee Chair
Joan FreemanCSTF - Member
Richard LevineCSTF - Member
Stanley MerrittCSTF - Member
Kristen E. Taylor, AICPSenior Planner
Feza OktayCSTF - Member
Thomas LynchCSTF - Member
Ann ShershinSixth Ward
What are Climate Smart Communities?
Climate Smart Communities is a New York State program that helps local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate.
Climate Smart Communities began in 2009 as an interagency initiative of New York State. The program is sponsored jointly by six New York State agencies: Department of Environmental Conservation; Energy Research and Development Authority or NYSERDA; Department of Public Service; Department of State; Department of Transportation; and Department of Health. The Department of Environmental Conservation acts as the main administrator of the program.
The original focus of the program was on encouraging local governments to commit to act on climate change by passing a resolution containing the Climate Smart Pledge. The certification program was added in 2014 and provides specific guidance on how to implement the pledge. Certified communities are leaders, going beyond the pledge by completing and documenting a suite of actions that mitigate and adapt to climate change at the local level. Communities earn points toward certification for each action they complete. In addition to accumulating points, each community must complete a number of mandatory and priority actions at each level of certification.
The Town of Poughkeepsie is one of over 350 registered communities; together these communities represent more than 8 million residents. The Town Board pledged to become a Climate Smart Community (PDF) on 4-18-18 and passed a second resolution creating a dedicated Climate Smart Task Force (PDF) on 7-10-19. (Appointments to the Task Force have since been updated.) In September 2021 the Town became one of 82 Bronze-certified communities. Our Task Force is now pursuing actions towards the Silver, the next level of certification.
Our town has committed to:
Set goals, inventory emissions, and plan for climate action
Decrease community energy use
Increase community use of renewable energy
Realize the benefits of recycling and other climate-smart solid waste management practices
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions through use of climate-smart land tools
Enhance community resilience and prepare for the effects of climate change
Support development of a green innovation economy
Inform and inspire the public
Commit to an evolving process of climate action
What actions has the Town of Poughkeepsie taken related to climate change mitigation and adaptation?
Mitigation means making the impacts of climate change less severe by preventing or reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere. Adaptation means adjusting to the current and future effects of climate change. The Town has…
- Committed to become a Climate Smart Community
- Adopted a Climate Change Education and Engagement Plan as a roadmap for public participation in this process.
- Created an updated Comprehensive Plan with sustainability elements.
- Completed a Natural Resources Inventory and is in the process of developing a resulting Open Space Plan with public input.
- Completed a climate change vulnerability assessment to support planning along with a climate change resiliency plan.
- Completed a set of Climate Smart Resiliency recommendations
- Installed LED street lights and a solar array on the Town Hall roof to save electricity and shift to clean, renewable energy.
- Completed a baseline inventory of its municipal fleet in order to support the process of transitioning to electric vehicles over time.
- Encouraged the preservation of open space and natural features through the implementation of a cluster subdivision policy
- Incorporated Smart Growth principles into land-use policies and regulations.
- Promoted Green Parking Lot standards in the Arlington Town Center District zoning regulations,
- Added infrastructure for biking and walking with the Raymond Avenue redesign and is currently working on the Main Street redesign.
- Provided both curbside and drop-off options for composting yard waste.
- Engaged in brownfield cleanup of three sites.
- Supported and participated in the Arlington Farmers’ Market
- Created this web page and related social media to inform and engage our community.
- Completed a Solar for All campaign to support access to community solar for income-eligible households.
- Completed several actions to qualify for Clean Energy Communities, a separate NYS program, including adoption of the Unified Solar Permit to streamline permitting for installation of solar and fulfillment of a Community Solar Campaign.
How can residents and businesses participate in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build community resiliency?
- Volunteer for the Conservation Advisory Commission or Climate Smart Task Force.
- Contact your Town Board representative to request and help with efforts such as neighborhood park upgrades.
- Businesses that have installed EV chargers, or are interested in learning more about the how-to’s and available incentives, should contact the Climate Smart Task Force to get involved.
- Get involved in the Pollinator Pathway! Plant native pollinator plants, eliminate chemicals, and rethink your lawn.
- Town residents(owners and renters) can take advantage of Community Solar opportuntiies without the need to install anything on their homes. Reduce your electric bill while supporting the transition to green energy!
What individual actions can residents and businesses take to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions?
What are some climate change resources?
- Contact your local Community Energy Advisor to learn how to save energy and money while making your home more comfortable. Visit Mid Hudson Energy Choices or contact: Collin Adkins, Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess 845-677-8223 x113 or Email Colin Adkins
- To learn more about easy ways to save energy and money visit NYSERDA - Learn More
- Consider driving an Electric or Hybrid Electric vehicle - more information for New York drivers at NYSERDA - Drive Electric Cars.
- Switch to LED light bulbs - more information at Energy Star
- Reduce and reuse! But if you must recycle, read this guide to learn about what can be recycled correctly in Dutchess County.
- Patronize a farmers' market like Arlington Farmers' Market, or join a CSA like the Poughkeepsie Farm Project
- Start home composting! Read this guide and purchase a backyard composting bin from the County.
- Educate yourself about climate change solutions at Project Drawdown
- Learn about the impact of sea level rise from our partners at Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson
- Monitor local drought conditions to help conserve water
- Join the Pollinator Pathway
- Help track invasive species
Climate Smart Communities (Comunidades Climáticamente Inteligente) es un programa del Estado de Nueva York que ayuda a los gobiernos locales tomar acciones para reducir emisiones de gases de efecto invernaderos y adaptar a un clima que cambia constantemente. El pueblo de Poughkeepsie es uno de 313 comunidades registrado en este programa; juntas, estas comunidades representan mas que 8 millones de personas.
¿Qué puede hacer una persona o negocio para reducir su propio emisiones de gases de efecto invernaderos?
¿Qué son algunos recursos sobre el cambio climático?
- Otros recursos para ahorrar energía y dinero en la casa visita NYSERDA – Aprende mas (para ver la pagina en español, cambia el lenguaje donde dice “Change Language” abajo del bandera azul).
- Considerar manejar un carro eléctrico o hibrido eléctrico- más información para los de Nueva York: NYSERDA – Drive Electric en el estado de Nueva York (para ver la pagina en español, cambia el lenguaje donde dice “Change Language” abajo del bandera azul).
- Cambiar a bombillas/focos de LED - más información: ENERGY STAR
- Comprar alimentos y otras cosas en los mercados locales como Arlington Farmers' Market, o inscribirse en un CSA como lo de Poughkeepsie Farm Project
- Educarse sobre soluciones de cambio climatico con Project Drawdown
- Aprender sobre el impacto del aumento de nivel de mar desde nuestros compañeros de Riverkeeper (información en inglés) y Scenic Hudson
- Monitorear la condición local de sequía para ayudar a conservar el agua.
- Hacer un jardín en su tierra para los polinizadores y lee en inglés sobre los esfuerzos del Poughkeepsie en ayudar a los polinizadores en su programa de Pollinator Pathway
- Aprender sobre las especies invasoras y que puede hacer
- Arlington Famers' Market will return for the 2023 season.
- View previous virtual workshops in the "It Takes a Town" series sponsored by our CAC on the Town's YouTube channel:
- View What's the Buzz: Creating Pollinator Friendly Communities (fall 2021 forum at Cornell Cooperative Extension in which our Town's project was featured). The presentation PDF's are also available on that page..
Climate Smart Task Force meeting summaries - look how far we've come!
December 2022 Update
The Task Force is completing a very productive year! At our December meeting we engaged in further discussion of a food waste composting pilor for our town - follow our updates! This will be a collaborative effort with our CAC and others. The planned solar array is tentatively - depending on Board approval - being expanded to all three available roofs at our Water Dept. on Cedar Avenue. This plan will increase the return on investment significantly as well as cut even more greenhouse gas emissions. The Task Force is exploring the possibility of a Community Repair Cafe here in Town. Watch for updates or contact us if you are interested in being involved.
November 2022 Update
We're excited that discussion of food waste composting is moving forward...stay tuned!
We're continuing to plan the new solar array in collaboration with our Town Board. This is a complicated process involving a state contract for our grants as well as vendor proposals.
The Climate Action Planning Institute - CAPI Dutchess - will kick off shortly after a long wait due to the pandemic and other delays. Representatives of the Town will work in parallel with those from several other municipalities in Dutchess to complete a government greenhouse gas emissions inventory (fleet, buildings, etc.) and then use that information to develop a Climate Action Plan as well as a Climate Adaptation model.
We were pleased to welcome Board Member Bill Carlos, Ward 2, to our meeting. He also serves as this year's Chairman of the Joint Water Board for the shared Town/City of Poughkeepsie water plant. We had an informative discussion about the CHPE - the Champlain Hudson Power Express - a controversial plan to bring power from Canada to NYC via a trench in the Hudson.. There are significant concerns regarding impact of trenching on the water supply, and Riverkeeper - which participates with the Town in the Hudson 7 water organization - has taken a position opposing this plan. Task Force members will be learning more about this topic in the coming days.
October 2022 Update
We were delighted to host a guest from Mothers Out Front, a non-partisan organization dedicated to helping Dutchess County move forward on climate issues, for a discussion of residential composting and organic waste management. Currently the County is considering its draft Solid Waste Management Plan, and this group is encouraging our County legislators to include plans for a shared composting facility. This would mean a significant reduction in incineration of trash, a large percentage of which is compostable and includes a great deal of food waste, resulting in a healthier environment. Discussion has also started regarding the idea of a pilot residential composting program for our Town, similar to what has recently been set up in some of our neighboring municipalities.
Our Clean Energy Communities grants, which our Town Board supported towards installation of a solar array on Water Dept. buildings to provide energy for municipal use, were approved! Stay tuned for updates on this fantastic project.
September 2022 Update
We have been exploring opportunities to add an Electric Vehicle to the Town fleet. While it is not clear if this is currently feasible (based on replacement needs, budget, and current technology) even with our grant/incentives, we will also bring a proposal to the Town Board/Committee of the Whole on 9/14 for installation of a small solar array with the Action Grant and related incentives, to offset Town electric costs. While it would be a very small contribution to the total bill, it would be 100% paid by these resources. Public attendance at this meeting is welcome. We are discussing other actions that need to be continued or initiated after the grants process is resolved.
Look for us at the Arlington Street Fair on 9/17/22, where we'll share a table with the CAC. We're excited to sponsor display of an electric Ford F150 Lightning from Friendly Ford.
August 2022 Update
We continue to focus on proposals for our Clean Energy Communities grants. For the smaller Designation Grant, we are developing a program for town business owners in conjunction with the Green Business Bureau, which would provide guidance to businesses in increasing their sustainability, in turn reducing our community's overall greenhouse gas emissions and providing a healthier local environment. For the larger Action Grant, we are exploring multiple options for pre-approved projects such as an electric vehicle for the Town fleet, a solar array on municipal property, or an electric vehicle charger in a public location. Any of these projects would decrease emissions as well as save money over the long term. Any final proposals for the grants will need to be approved by the Town Board.
We are also excited to report that CAPI Dutchess - the Climate Action Planning Institute - will finally launch in September or October after extensive delays. Over the course of this 16-18 month project we will, in parallal with several other municipalities, develop a government operations greenhouse gas emissions inventory, a resulting climate action (mitigation) plan, and also the basis for a climate adaptation plan. The County will be the lead agency for this effort, which will be modeled on the same process brought to a successful conclusion in other counties.
July 2022 Update
Our July meeting was focused on preparing to present our proposals for our two Clean Energy Communities grants to the Town Board Committee of the Whole on 7/13/22.
June 2022 Update
We continue to flesh out proposals for use of our two Clean Energy Communities grants. The Task Force is interested in (1) seeding a Green Business Challenge for Town business owners and (2) helping the Town to acquire its first Electric Vehicle for its fleet. Members of the Task Force are working hard to gather the necessary information on both topics in preparation for discussion with the Town Board.
Looking ahead, we'll be at the annual Arlington Street Fair on Saturday 9/17! Look for our table which we will share with the CAC. Stay tuned for more information.
Our partners on the Town Pollinator Pathway are launching a project to create at least one native planting area on municipal property in each of the Wards. We'll be selecting locations (neighborhood parks, for example) and advertising planting days. Join us!
May 2022 Update
Our current focus is selecting appropriate projects for use of the two Clean Energy Communities grants that we have earned by completion of our Community Solar Campaign! We've earned a Designation Grant of $5,000 and an Action Grant of $15,000. Task Force members have great ideas about how to use these funds to further the Town's progress on climate goals. We'll be discussing these ideas with the Supervisor and Board and proceeding with the grant applications. Stay tuned for more news on this exciting development!
The Task Force is engaged in the wider conversation that is occurring in the County regarding solid waste management issues and especially the need for a composting facility.
We are proud that our Task Force member Tom Lynch, who has been attending meetings of the Hudson 7 (communities which draw water from the Hudson) has been invited to join an advisory group of water quality experts that will be working on the issue of the salt front coming further north as sea level rise increases. This is a crucial issue for our communities and one which will need to be solved collaboratively.
April 2022 Update
We continued our discussion about how to move our Town towards a green fleet. We expect to be eligible for both a smaller grant, with flexible use, and a larger grant which can be used for several pre-approved projects (some of which the Town has already achieved). The members of the Task Force are very much in favor of using the smaller grant to support Green Business incentives in the Town, and the larger one to support acquisition of an electric vehicle for the fleet. SInce our Board is proceeding with the separate grant for charging stations to be installed at Town Hall, this is a wonderful opportunity.
We are doing an overall review of our Climate Smart points status to facilitate planning for additional actions. We welcome input from residents and also welcome your comments regarding issues that are being discussed in our wider community, such as electric rates.
March 2022 Update
We are thrilled to announce that we have completed our SOLAR FOR ALL Community Campaign! This is a High-Impact Action for NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities program as well as a Climate Smart Action. Completion should qualify the Town for an action grant...stay tuned for more good news!
At our March meeting, we continued to work on Green Fleet issues. We discussed a variety of waste management issues impacting the Town and County. In particular, we focused on the concept of a Green Business Challenge. We are exploring ideas to bring such a program to our local business owners, giving them the opportunity to contribute to our well-being and to take leadership in the community.
February 2022 Update
We welcomed new member, Feza Oktay, to our Task Force. Feza is a business owner who will bring valuable perspective to our work. We bade farewell to Katherine Espinosa and wish her well in her new endeavors.
We reviewed status of all actions in process and set responsibilities for moving forward. Given that we have achieved initial Bronze certification, our upcoming work will benefit from a thoughtful visioning of next priorities towards Silver, which requires significant action. Priorities for the coming year will reflect the potential impact on our community, actions already in process, and feasibility.. By establishing clear goals, we can focus our volunteer time and effort more efficiently and work with the Board most effectively. Our general consensus was that these areas are: "green fleet" issues, waste management issues including recycling and organics, and development of a green business challenge. We will also target completion of our Solar for All campaign (we are very close!) and work on developing content for a Climate Adaptation Plan.
January 2022 Update
The Task Force began the new year with a review of all in-process and planned actions to take the Town towards the next level (Silver) certification. These include:
- Reviewing the final, adopted Comprehensive Plan to determine details of its submission for Climate Smart credit
- Developing a Fleet Inventory maintenance policy as a tool for transitioning the town fleet to electric vehicles
- Supporting Town personnel to participate in updated NYSERDA Energy Code Enforcement Training, which will help us reach our Clean Energy Community action goal and position us for additional grants
- Monitoring adoption of the Natural Resources Inventory and Open Space Plan and submitting the updated information for Climate Smart credit
- Monitoring grant application for installation of EV chargers on municipal property
- Outreach to our business community regarding charging station opportunites and other potential actions for a Green Business Challenge
- Clarifying issues related to recycling in our municipal offices
- Completing our Solar for All campaign and submitting it for both Climate Smart and Clean Energy Community credit
December 2021 Update
In lieu of our monthly meeting, the Task Force members participated in the final public workshop for the Open Space Plan (see link to recording above).
November 2021 Update
The Task Force is setting its sights on new, significant actions. This includes EV charging infrastructure on municipal property as well as supporting our business community with installation of chargers on private property. We are examining "Green Fleet" and municipal operations recycling policies adopted by other towns in preparation for developing both here in Poughkeepsie, Our Solar for All campaign is getting close to the finish line, which will position the town for significant grant money.
Our Task Force members will participate in the upcoming third and final public workshop for our Open Space Plan and encourage all town residents to join us! This will be in lieu of our December meeting on 12/2. Watch town information for meeting information.
October 2021 Update
This month we celebrated our huge achievement: Bronze certification! We reviewed all of the actions that we currently have in process to move forward towards the next level. The Town has completed the Comprehensive Plan update and should complete the Open Space Plan by the end of the year. We are still awaiting initiation of "CAPI Dutchess" - the Climate Action Planning Institute - in which we will partner with several other towns to complete an inventory of municipal greenhouse gas emissions. Each town will complete its own inventory, working together using proven strategies, which will lead to a plan for reduction.We are looking at ways to upgrade recycling in our municipal buildings. And we are especially focused on helping the Town to install EV charging infrastructure at municipal sites, for our residents as well as to facilitate the Town transitioning its fleet to EVs over time.
Many of the actions being completed for Climate Smart also qualify the Town for credit in the Clean Energy Communities program, a separate NYS effort. Once we complete our SOLAR FOR ALL campaign (see info above on this page) we will qualify for a significant grant from the State that can be used to further our efforts.
September 2021 Update
We continue to await a response to our application for initial certification; however, we know that several new or revised actions have been approved. In addition, the town’s NRI/Open Space Plan will be completed late 2021; the Comprehensive Plan will be voted on by the Board in the fall. Both of these major actions will go towards a higher certification level, as will the Unified Solar Permit (completed) and Solar for All campaign (when completed). We await the delayed initiation of CAPI Dutchess. The Task Force hopes to move forward regarding the town fleet, to start to identify opportunities for rightsizing and EV transition.
The Hudson Valley Regional Council announced a Clean Energy Communities Institute, which will create a 12-month program with a monthly focus on one selected high impact action for which extra resources will be provided to communities. We have already fulfilled some of these actions; this fall we hope to learn more about the New York Stretch Code and Energy Code Enforcement Training.
We are also looking into the possibility of partnering with other communities for an EV education and group purchase program coordinated by Sustainable Hudson Valley.
August 2021 Update
We anticipate a response to our Climate Smart Certification submission by 8/27/21 - we hope to receive good news and follow up with a press release.
Our August meeting was our first in-person meeting in a very long time. We reviewed all of the actions in process that will potentially figure into the next certification level. In addition to existing plans for our Natural Resources Inventory/Open Space Plan, Comprehensive Plan, and CAPI Dutchess, we have been approached by Vassar College as a stakeholder for a community resilience assessment.
In parallel with Climate Smart, the town continues to progress towards Clean Energy Communities goals by virtue of completing relevant actions, many of which overlap with Climate Smart (in fact, receiving initial certification is in and of itself a step towards the additional designation). We have also been approved for our Unified Solar Permit and LED Lights. Certain high-impact actions, as well as overall point totals, have the potential to bring a substantial amount of grant money to the Town.
Our task force member Tom Lynch is now engaged with Hudson 7 (Hudson River Drinking Water Intermunicipal Council). He reported extensively from the July meeting, where crucial and pressing issues impacting our drinking water were discussed.
We are making plans to see you at the Arlington Street Fair, scheduled for 9/18.
July 2021 Update
Following a month of focused work, we were thrilled and elated to submit our completed, updated application for initial “Bronze” level Climate Smart Communities Certification during our meeting. The group reviewed all of the updates and – although virtually – was present to click on the “submit” button in the New York State portal. We took a few moments to savor and celebrate all that has been accomplished! We then reviewed additional actions already in the Town pipeline that will bring additional points (which, we hope, will set us on the path to “Silver” level certification). These include:
- Participation in the Dutchess Climate Action Planning Institute which will begin shortly
- Working with the Town staff and board to adopt the Unified Solar Permit (also an action for Clean Energy Communities)
- Completion and adoption of the Comprehensive Plan with sustainability elements
- Completion of the Open Space Plan and adoption of the Plan and Natural Resources inventory
- Completion of the Solar for All community campaign
The group also intends to begin working in earnest on supporting EV charging infrastructure in the Town and looks forward to hosting a public event for business owners later this year.
It will be several weeks until we receive a decision on our application. Watch this space for news!
June 2021 update
Beverly Santero resigned from the Task Force due to her plan to move out of the area. Susan spoke with the Town Supervisor, we can work towards appointing a new member but in the meantime the focus is on resubmission.
Our new liaison for Clean Energy Communities is Eleanor Peck; she was previously the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Beacon and functioned as the CSC Chair, so she is very familiar with the municipal end of the process. Susan met with Eleanor to review our CSC application following this meeting. Numerous updates are being made to our application at this time.
We discussed the need to encourage the Town Board to follow through with approval of the proposed Climate Change Education and Engagement Plan and Unified Solar Permit, as well as to support the Solar for All campaign.
May 2021 Update
We reviewed our initial certification submission. Currently we have 108 points overall of the 120 required, 2 of 2 mandatory actions, and 2 of 3 priority actions. The next submission date, and the final one for 2021, is 7/2/21. Our focus in the short term is on this deadline, and this meeting produced a “punch list” to accomplish this.
The new Town website is expected to launch within days. Susan was given access and training and will be able to accomplish the needed updates to our page to qualify for this action.
We discussed the need to move forward with planning an EV event for business owners particularly in light of the federal and state push to add infrastructure. Following resubmission, this should be our next focus. We already have extensive lists of existing charger locations and business types that should be approached. We will develop a script for reaching out to the former, first, to ask for their participation.
We’ve collected more background information on local composting.
April 2021 update
The Climate Smart Task Force is moving forward in a robust fashion! This month, we reviewed the Office of Climate Change’s response to our initial application for certification, which was submitted in January. Due to pandemic-related delays, as expected, we were unable to complete several actions within their original time frames. However, we are optimistic about being able to revise and update several items, as well as provide additional actions, in time for a July resubmission.
Our Solar for All community campaign has been approved by NYSERDA, and the campaign is formally launching on April 1st, to be completed by the end of June. We are doing an initial information push through town media channels and local partner organizations. This is an action for Climate Smart as well as a potential high-impact action for Clean Energy Communities which could lead to a grant for the town to pursue additional clean energy upgrades. Solar for All is a utility bill assistance program to advance the scale-up of solar and move NYS closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. The program offers income- eligible households the opportunity to subscribe to a community solar project in their area without paying any costs or fees. Residents that have participated in Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and EmPower NY are already income-qualified for the program. For more information on Solar for All eligibility or to receive assistance with sign up, please contact Danielle Salisbury, Community Energy Advisor (Cornell Cooperative Extension) at (845) 677-8223 ext 138.
We are participating in a county-wide discussion about the feasibility of collaborating on a composting site. Stay tuned for more as this develops.
We continue to push forward to back the development of EV charging infrastructure not only on municipal property, but also in our business community. Our goal is to create a group of town business owners who either have experience with installing charging stations, or are interested in doing so, to support this process. If you are business owner with interest in this area, please contact us.
March 2021 update
We learned that our application for initial certification, while not yet approved, did qualify for 108 of the required 120 points for completed actions. Considering that several robust actions that would bring this to fruition have been delayed by up to a year due to Covid and other factors outside of the Town, task force members are very pleased with what has been accomplished so far. A great deal of specific feedback on our application was provided which will serve to inform our next submission, and we continue to anticipate reaching the requirement during this calendar year.
This month the task force had a very productive meeting with a representative of NYSERDA’s Transportation Group. We learned a great deal about strategies and incentives to promote EV ownership and infrastructure in both public and private sectors and are enthusiastic about bringing this information to our Town Board and business owners.
On 3/10/21 our Clean Energy Communities liaison from the Hudson Valley Regional Council will address the Committee of the Whole in order to help us all be educated about CEC opportunities, how they overlap with the Climate Smart program, and how they can position the town for grants.
February 2021 update
While awaiting feedback from the NYS Office of Climate Change regarding our application for initial “Bronze” certification, the Task Force continues to work on planning additional actions. One focus is the area of EV charging infrastructure, and how we can help to educate both our business community and our elected officials and town staff in this area. Next month, we’ll host a speaker from NYSERDA to help us identify appropriate steps.
We’ve started to discuss Clean Energy Communities, a separate NYS program with its own actions and point system which can position us for grants to do further work. The CEC program has just been reissued with updated actions. Several Climate Smart actions overlap CEC, including obtaining our certification. We plan to invite our CEC liaison from the Hudson Valley Regional Council, who has extensive expertise, to address key town stakeholders in order to create shared context for any discussion of pursuing the separate designation.
The Dutchess Climate Action Planning Institute, delayed several months, remains imminent. Currently the municipalities involved await completion of final contract steps involving the Dept. of Environmental Conservation.
There is a beginning discussion about composting occurring across Climate Smart representatives from several communities in Dutchess…please stay tuned for an update.
On the lighter side, we reviewed Climate Smart logo designs submitted by the Graphic Arts students in DCC’s Service Learning program. We have several strong contenders and will soon have our own logo gracing our web page and other communications. Opportunities for students to support us, while also honing pre-professional skills, are an added benefit to our work.
January 2021 update
A major milestone was reached at our January 7th meeting, when we submitted our application for initial “Bronze” certification to the NYS Office of Climate Change. The Task Force is extremely grateful to its members whose hard work has brought us to this juncture and to the Town personnel who supported our efforts. A period of several weeks is expected to elapse before we receive a formal response, and it is anticipated that some “completed” actions may require further documentation. It is also anticipated that we will have additional completions to add to our application at that point, in time for the next submission deadline in April. We will continue to move forward with planned actions nonetheless and look ahead to the next certification level. We’ll take some steps to publicize this wonderful accomplishment to our community.
December 2020 update
Despite unavoidable delays due to the pandemic, the Task Force is full steam ahead and still anticipates submission for initial “bronze” Climate Smart certification in January. Our expectation is that our application would be reviewed and feedback provided about any actions requiring more work or documentation, with the next deadline in April. To this end, we are focused on collecting needed documentation and uploading it into the NYS CSC portal. In the process we have discovered a few unexpected points for which we can apply, and are also continuing to envision next steps that we can pursue towards “silver”, taking our Town even further towards sustainability.
November 2020 Update
Our hard-working Task Force personnel conducted a complete review of our draft application in the NYS Climate Smart Communities portal to pinpoint where work and documentation stand for each completed or planned action.
The start date for our Solar for All campaign is on hold while we await NYSERDA’s update to this action, enabling us to proceed in a way that may make the town eligible for additional grants to support sustainability.
In collaboration with the CAC, work has begun on our Pollinator Pathway, which will be part of the Northeast pathway (visit https://www.pollinator-pathway.org/). We have representation from our town committees, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Vassar Environmental Cooperative/Ecological Preserve, Peach Hill Park, Waterman Bird Club, the colleges and school districts that lie within the town, and others. In the near future, we will begin public outreach to enlist individual residential properties to join the Pathway.
The amazing Visual Arts students at DCC will be designing new logos for both Climate Smart and our CAC during the spring semester. We look forward to this collaboration and to placing the new design on our page and social media.
October 2020 Update
Task Force personnel are now in the process of reviewing our eventual application for certification, which occurs in a NYS online portal, and uploading required documentation for specific actions.
Recently, some additional actions have become feasible thanks to the interest of student interns at Vassar College, particularly in the area of mapping.
Progress is occurring on our town’s “fleet inventory” which is a critical data collection step that we need as a baseline for future planning of emission reductions. Town personnel are extremely supportive in partnering with the Task Force on this project. We hope in the near future to do an informational presentation on EV infrastructure for members of the Board, Planning Board, and department heads so that we can work together towards increasing infrastructure for both municipal and public benefit.
Climate Smart certification will benefit from progress on the Natural Resources Inventory and Open Space Plan, which is being managed through the Conservation Advisory Commission (CAC). CAC and Climate Smart work collaboratively on shared goals.
We continue to prepare for our Solar for All campaign. Recently, we received updated guidance from the state that will allow us to proceed with this action in a way that may make the town eligible for additional grants to support sustainability. We are holding this campaign until the new information is complete in order to take advantage of this opportunity.
On October 14th we will sponsor an updated presentation on Community Choice Aggregation and Community Solar for the Committee of the Whole at the Town Board.
Finally, we continue to plan for the Pollinator Pathway and have numerous participants committed to an initial steering committee from our local school districts, colleges, and other relevant organizations. Interested town residents should contact the Task Force chair.
September 2020 update
At our September meeting we noted that the Town Board unanimously passed a resolution on 8/19/20 supporting the Solar for All Campaign. The required “scoping document” for NYSERDA has been completed, identifying how the campaign will be publicized to residents and what other groups will support that process. The document will now be submitted to NYSERDA for final approval before the campaign can be implemented.
We continue to gather information about the town’s vehicle fleet for eventual inclusion in our greenhouse gas emissions inventory. We’ll be refocusing on efforts to bring EV infrastructure to both town and private business properties through providing education on types of installations and financial incentives.
The Task Force now has an informative brochure. Look for a copy on your next visit to the Town Hall or other public settings.
August 2020 update
At our August meeting the Task Force took steps forward on the Solar for All campaign for our town. We’ll be submitting required information to NYSERDA, with the campaign itself happening a little later this year. While a formal resolution is not required, nonetheless our liaison to the Town Board will be presenting one.
A Request for Proposals, to engage a consultant for our Natural Resources Inventory and Open Space Plan, is going out. With the support of our Conservation Advisory Commission, we expect the project to come to fruition in 2021. Watch for news of public comment sessions on this important initiative.
We have joined the Pollinator Pathway and are reaching out into the community for stakeholders interested in serving on a steering committee to develop a target pathway map and take next steps. One important collaborator will the Environmental Cooperative at Vassar College, and we will also be working with students in the Environmental Studies program. Please contact us if you have an interest in working with this committee.
The Task Force is learning more about CCA: Community Choice Aggregation, prior to developing a consensus regarding whether or not we wish to recommend that the Town Board consider it.
July 2020 update
We’re excited to announce our new Facebook page. Please follow our page to stay abreast of our activities, events, and progress. Watch for our posts about other initiatives that we support such as Dutchess SUPPP (the Dutchess County Single-use Plastic Pollution Prevention Campaign).
At our July meeting the Task Force reviewed the recent public meeting for the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, which will contain sustainability elements required for certification. Participants were strongly in favor of climate smart actions such as increased renewables, local community solar, composting, and electric vehicle infrastructure.
Our Conservation Advisory Commission (CAC) is in process on a new Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) as part of the Comprehensive Plan. The NRI will lead to an Open Space Plan for the town. Currently the town is engaging a professional consultant, with grant support, to assist in the NRI process. Completion of the NRI will provide points towards Climate Smart certification.
We are excited to launch a Solar for All campaign in the coming months! This campaign is part of the overall NYS Solarize initiative and will assist low to moderate income town residents to participate in community solar, with grant funding to provide utility bill assistance under the program.
We’re also thrilled to be joining the Pollinator Pathway! Watch for more information about how individual town residents and businesses can participate.
June 2020 update
The Task Force hosted a presentation about “Solar for All”, a community solar and utility bill assistance program provided by NYSERDA. Solar power for this pilot project in Dutchess County would come from the Underhill Farm solar array in the town. The committee supports participation, and the Chair and Board representative will discuss implementation with the Town Supervisor. We made additional edits to our new Climate Smart Task Force brochure and look forward to copies being available for residents in town offices when they reopen. Fun fact: the town has converted 82% of its street lights to climate-friendly LED’s! We’ll earn points toward certification thanks to this work. Lights that are not yet converted will be changed as the old bulbs burn out. We continue to dialog with Central Hudson regarding public education about Electric Vehicles. Normally the utility hosts an annual “EV summit.” This year, due to the pandemic, plans have not yet been confirmed. The Task Force, in partnership with the CAC (Conservation Advisory Commission), has expressed enthusiasm about the town participating in the regional “Pollinator Pathway” (learn more at https://www.pollinator-pathway.org/). We can partner with our friends at the Vassar Environmental Cooperative on this beneficial campaign, which will be a fantastic opportunity to engage the public. We are also exploring the possibility of a Green Business Challenge. Watch for more information on all of these efforts!
May 2020 update
The Task Force continues to meet virtually and to progress towards Climate Smart Certification! Currently we are documenting the Town’s conversion of street lights to LEDs and preparing materials for an inventory of the Town’s fleet that will be used to help craft a Climate Action Plan. We continue to plan for educational workshops on EV infrastructure for both businesses and residents. Members are enthusiastic about hosting a pilot “Solar for All” campaign in Dutchess County, which would make community solar participation more readily available to lower-income households. We’re also exploring the idea of creating a Green Business Challenge within the Town. Contact us with your ideas!
April 2020 update
Due to the health crisis, the Task Force met online and is working hard to maintain our momentum despite the pandemic. We eagerly anticipate initiation of the Dutchess County Climate Action Planning Institute (CAPI). This 16-month program involves several municipalities working together to inventory our government greenhouse gas emissions and develop a plan to reduce them. The program will use the ICLEI ClearPath tool, already proven in use by many communities, to do inventory, analysis, and other processes. We are also continuing to develop plans for community workshops on EV infrastructure and want to address both public and private spaces. The Task Force will soon have social media. One thing you’ll see on our imminent Facebook page is information about the new Dutchess SUPPP program: the Single-Use Plastic Pollution Prevention Campaign. We’re discussing ways that we can help implement this campaign even during the pandemic. We’re also looking into the possibility of participating in a new Solarize campaign to support use of community solar.
March 2020 update
Climate Smart baseline assessments were presented to the Town Board on 2-19, providing a roadmap for our journey to initial certification. We expect to present to the Board again late in the year with more details on what is accomplished. Our Task Force chair participated in the annual Dutchess County Environmental Management Council Roundtable, at which representatives of all municipalities share ideas and progress on the environmental front. We are so proud that our town is one of the leaders in the county in seeking Climate Smart certification. We are now pivoting into the NYS submittal process. Task Force members will be gathering needed documentation for certification. We’re getting ready for the start of the Dutchess County Climate Action Planning Institute (CAPI). This 16-month program involves several municipalities, working together to inventory our government greenhouse gas emissions and develop a plan to reduce them. We’re also preparing to offer community workshops on adding EV infrastructure to both public and private spaces. We want our town businesses to be able to take advantage of the significant financial incentives for setting up charging stations, which will attract both customers and prospective employees.
Fun fact: did you know that the town has already converted the bulk of our street lights to LED bulbs? This high-impact action will count towards Climate Smart certification.
Dutchess SUPPP – the Dutchess Single-Use Plastic Pollution Prevention Campaign – has been implemented. This grant-based initiative is intended for collaboration with municipalities and will provide us with educational resources for the community. Did you know that Dutchess County has a Recycling Coordinator? And a “Recycle Right” campaign. There will be workshops for local businesses about using alternative products and compostables.
Later this year, Climate Smart will have a beautiful logo! Students in the DCC Service Program will be assisting us with design. This is a great way to engage our community.
February 2020 update
Climate Smart baseline assessment is complete! This will be presented to the Town Board on 2-19 and provides a roadmap for our journey to initial certification. We’ve identified actions that the Town has completed, those that are in progress, and others that should take priority for implementation. We’re excited that Poughkeepsie will be part of the Dutchess County Climate Action Planning Institute (CAPI), working with several other municipalities as we each inventory our government greenhouse gas emissions and create related climate action plans. We’re planning our next steps to inform and engage town residents, so watch for new publicity outlets with information about our progress and events. In addition, the task force is in a robust discussion about EV (electric vehicle) infrastructure. We hope to support the town in this area, to make it easier for residents to transition to renewables and for employers and businesses to provide this amenity.
January 2020 update
Members of the Task Force participated in a presentation on Community Choice Aggregation. CCA is a policy, enabled by NYS legislation, that allows a municipality to source energy on behalf of its residents and businesses. By forming a large buying pool with other municipalities, customers can save money, opt to use renewable energy, and receive consumer protections. Our speaker was from Hudson Valley Energy, which is participating in the Hudson Valley Community Power aggregation involving several municipalities (City of Poughkeepsie, Beacon, Cold Spring, Fishkill, Marbletown, Red Hook, New Paltz, and others). The pilot project in NYS was Westchester Power, which aggregated several communities in that county. A municipal board can pass a law enabling exploration of CCA without making a commitment until the final stages of the process. Currently several municipalities in our region are exploring forming a new aggregation. Customers can also enroll in community solar through the CCA, resulting in the creation of a Sustainability Fund which the municipality can earmark for a selected purpose.
The completed Climate Smart Planning Tool will be presented to the Town Board on 2/19/20. The Climate Smart Certification Assessment is in the final stages of completion and will also be presented in the near future. With completion of these two steps, the Task Force will be in a position to identify actions that are completed or in progress, prioritize next actions to implement, and begin documentation towards initial certification. We continue to benefit from our partnership with professional staff at Cornell Cooperative Extension.
The Task Force also received the good news that grants supporting the 2020-21 Climate Action Planning Institute (CAPI Dutchess) were approved. CAPI will take participants (several municipalities including Town of Poughkeepsie) through development of the Local Government Operations GHG Emissions Inventory and draft Government Climate Action Plans (CAPs), which are key actions for the Climate Smart program. A similar project was deployed in Ulster County in 2018-19 and successfully walked eight communities through the process.
December 2019 update
The Task Force reviewed a draft of the Climate Smart Resiliency Planning Tool Summary and Recommendations, which will shortly be presented to the Town Board. Completion of the Planning Tool is a specific action towards certification for which the Town will earn points in the Climate Smart Communities program. The Planning Tool is an evaluation of existing Town plans and policies to identify risks and adaptation opportunities to reduce vulnerability to climate hazards. The Task Force will be providing the Board with feedback regarding prioritization of recommendations.
We continued our work on the Climate Smart Assessment checklist with a discussion of possible approaches to prioritizing actions towards certification. Once the Assessment is complete, we’ll be full steam ahead towards initial certification. The Town has a number of completed actions as well as several already in progress. Actions have to be documented in accordance with the Climate Smart program, with the actual application for certification done once this is in place.
We also talked about ideas for developing our presence in the community beyond this web page. Stay tuned for our outreach!
November 2019 update
At our November meeting, we reviewed the Climate Smart Planning Tool which is in draft form and will be finalized and presented to the Town Board within the next couple of months. The Planning Tool is one action within the overall Climate Smart Communities program and was developed based on a model created in New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. It reviews a broad range of municipal functions in the context of climate issues such as community plans, means of public outreach, vulnerability, preparedness and recovery, and hazard mitigation. The final document will include specific, prioritized recommendations and provide essential information for our path forward.
We also completed a review of our Climate Smart Assessment checklist, which correlates directly with the Climate Smart Communities program. The Assessment is a working document which helps us to establish a baseline for municipal status on the various pledge elements and specific actions as a starting point towards certification as well as to organize relevant documents, contacts, and responsibilities.
Many of us, whether working on environmental issues or just reading the news, have noted the proliferation of confusing acronyms and buzz words denoting groups, legislation, scientific concepts, and numerous other terms. We’re developing a helpful guide to all of this terminology; look for it to be posted here in the near future and contact us if you have something that you’d like included.
October 2019 update
At our October meeting, task force members were provided with an update on the Dutchess County Task Force’s progress. The County recently achieved bronze-level Climate Smart Certification and is committed to moving forward and to supporting municipalities. We reviewed our participation in the recent Arlington Street Fair and ideas for increasing our public profile and outreach. We discussed the status of our certification assessment and continued to plan for obtaining the needed detailed baseline information that will enable us to make specific recommendations to the town and begin documenting our actions towards certification.
September 2019 update
At our September meeting, task force members benefitted from a discussion of the Comprehensive Plan process. They identified areas of interest and committed to pursue updating the town assessment in those areas. Note was made of our new webpage, direct email and linkage to the NYS Climate Smart portal, where our actions towards certification will be documented. We also established a liaison to the Dutchess County Climate Smart Task Force and, for the near future, the planned Dutchess County Climate Action Planning Institute. We discussed initial opportunities for public outreach and education. We’ll be at the Arlington Street Fair on 9/21 and the Peach Hill Park Cider Ramble on 9/28, along with the CAC.