Climate Smart Task Force

Welcome to the Town of Poughkeepsie Climate Smart Task Force Webpage!

  Susan Karnes Hecht, Chair
  Katherine Espinosa
  Joan Freeman
  Richard Levine
  Stanley Merritt
  Beverly Santero
  Kristen Taylor, AICP, Town of Poughkeepsie Planner
  Ann Shershin, Town of Poughkeepsie Board Liaison
  Michelle Gluck, Environment and Energy Program Resource Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension
The task force meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7 pm at Town Hall
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Climate Smart Communities (CSC) is a New York State program that helps local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate.

CSC 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 (DEC); Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Department of Public Service; Department of State; Department of Transportation; and Department of Health. DEC 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 CSC 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.

Learn more about CSC at


The Town of Poughkeepsie is one of 275 registered communities; together these communities represent more than 8 million residents. The Town Board pledged to become a CSC on 4-18-18 and passed a second resolution creating a dedicated Climate Smart Task Force on 7-10-19.  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


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 here. 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  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.

August 2019 update

The task force has begun working towards initial certification at bronze level.  The Climate Smart Resiliency Planning Tool is nearly complete and will be presented to the Town Board in the near future.  This is a review of existing town plans and projects to identify climate adaptation strategies and policies or projects that may decrease vulnerability. Members of the task force are delving into a detailed assessment to identify and complete documentation of actions already completed and prioritize actions to be pursued.

Other links of interest

Meetings of the Dutchess County Climate Smart Task Force are open to the public.  Learn more at