Energize Your Home

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With winter setting in, this is a good time to remind everyone about New Rochelle’s Energize program, which provides a pathway for homeowners to reduce energy bills and make homes more comfortable.  If you haven’t taken advantage of this program to weatherize your home, you are really leaving money on the table.  Please visit the Energize website for more information or see this handy flyer.

New Rochelle vs. Climate Change

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The latest dreadful report on climate change from the UN makes for deeply depressing reading, so this is an important moment to remind ourselves that positive, effective climate action is still possible, provided we have the will.  Here’s a good local example . . .

A couple of years ago, New Rochelle joined about 20 other municipalities in the region, under the umbrella “Westchester Power.”  Together, we created the first “community choice aggregation” program in New York State, using our combined bargaining leverage to negotiate lower electricity rates for customers and to purchase “green” power through renewable energy credits.

Since then, New Rochelle has offset 82,759 metric tons of carbon dioxide.  That’s the equivalent of 17,721 cars taken off the road for a year, or 21 wind turbines running for a year, or 2.1 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years.  Our actions have helped strengthen the market for renewable energy and are contributing to a sustainable energy supply — all at a lower cost for consumers, with savings of about $2.4 million here in New Rochelle and $15.8 million region-wide.

Climate solutions like this abound.  But we need national and international action right away to scale up success stories and have a truly global impact.

A Clean, Green Energy Success Story

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Back in 2016, New Rochelle joined several other municipalities under the umbrella of Sustainable Westchester to launch a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program.  CCA is essentially the region-wide bulk purchase of electricity with the goal of driving down costs for consumers and fostering clean, renewable energy production.  You can learn more about the program here, and I wrote about the CCA launch in this prior blogpost.

So how is the program going?  Really, really well.

Through the end of 2017, New Rochelle consumers saved a total $1,325,694, while cutting harmful greenhouse gas emissions by 56,314 metric tons.  It’s a great success story, with Westchester’s positive experience now encouraging CCA programs elsewhere in the state and nation.

New Rochelle Wins Green City Challenge

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Mayor Noam Bramson, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, and the winning New Ro team.

Last year, New Rochelle, White Plains, and Yonkers entered a friendly competition.  The goal: encourage municipal employees to travel to work using greener transportation options like carpooling, mass transit, walking, or biking.

Yesterday afternoon, New York State Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul came to town to announce the winner.  And it is — drum roll, please — New Rochelle!    31% of City employees now use green options to get to work, up from 16% before the competition, edging out our sister cities.

The Lt. Governor was joined by leaders of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Metropool, which jointly sponsored the competition.

Congratulations to New Rochelle’s workforce.  Thank you for setting a great example for other large employers in the region.  And to my friends Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and White Plains Mayor Tom Roach: don’t take it too hard; there is no shame is losing to a thoroughly superior community.

More in this press release.

Depressing and Galvanizing

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In case you missed it, the powerful piece about climate change in this week’s issue of New York Magazine is getting a lot of attention.

Among the overwhelming majority of scientists, there is no doubt whatsoever that climate change will be bad news for all us and especially for younger and future generations.  There is considerable uncertainty, however, about just how bad.  As a result, scholarly journals tend to be cautious and conservative in their statements and predictions, and many of us naturally hope that actual effects will prove less dire than the consensus, mid-range projections.

But as the New York piece argues persuasively, truly catastrophic scenarios are entirely possible – and not all that improbable.  It is both depressing and galvanizing.

Take a read, and then if you have kids or grandkids, take a good, long look at them.