Identifying key actions to address causes and effects of climate change
Sullivan County convened a Climate Action Advisory Board in August 2012 to identify critical effects of climate change in the region and to formulate mitigation and adaptation strategies in the areas of energy, transportation, materials use, and land and water use. The resulting Climate Action Plan was approved by the SC Legislature in April 2014. In March 2022, the County reported on progress meeting the goals of the 2014 plan and outlined a new slate of priority projects for mitigation and adaptation.
Energy efficiency for County operations
The Office of Sustainable Energy works with the Division of Public Works to identify priority projects to improve energy efficiency at County buildings and facilities and in the County fleet. These projects reduce energy costs and GHG emissions from County operations. For example:
- A major energy retrofit at the Government Center in Monticello was financed and implemented through the New York Power Authority (NYPA). Completed in 2018, the retrofit included replacement of the building’s aging HVAC systems and interior and exterior lighting upgrades to LED.The project will result in a 29% annual reduction in electricity use and a reduction of 4,559 gallons of fuel oil each year. NYPA financing guarantees positive cash flow from year 1 because the energy cost savings are greater than the cost of the project.
Renewable energy projects
Sullivan County is transitioning to renewable energy for County-owned facilities.
- The County’s first solar PV installation, developed in collaboration with the SC Division of Planning, is a 14.96kW demonstration project at the Mobility Management Facility in the Town of Bethel. Installed in 2008, this solar array continues to produce approximately 17,900 kW hours of electricity each year.
- In 2012 the County installed a 49.92 kW photovoltaic system at the Robert B. Travis building on the County’s Health and Community Services campus in Liberty. This project was fully funded through a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, secured in collaboration with Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development (SASD). In its first year of operation, the County-owned facility produced 80,000 kWh of electricity, and saved the County $8,000 in electricity costs.
- In 2017 the County completed a 2.4MW PV system at the Care Center at Sunset Lake in Liberty. This project, financed under a power purchase agreement with Solar City (now Tesla), powers the all-electric Care Center at Sunset Lake and will result in substantial cost savings each year.
- In 2016, the County initiated a power purchase agreement with Gravity Renewables to purchase 4,000,000 kWh of electricity per year from a small hydro-electric plant in upstate NY. With the completion of this arrangement, the County will achieve 70% of electricity for government operations from renewable energy sources, surpassing the goal established in the 2014 Climate Action Plan (50% by 2020) 2 years ahead of schedule.
Sullivan County is committed to annual benchmarking and reporting of energy use, energy costs and the total GHG emissions generated by County-owned buildings. The process of benchmarking allows Sullivan County Government to learn about the energy use of its buildings, to see which buildings are performing well in terms of energy efficiency, and to identify buildings to be studied for potential energy retrofit work to improve energy performance.
Fleet Efficiency Policy
The County Legislature has adopted a policy designed to ensure that the most fuel efficient and appropriately-sized vehicles with be selected for the County fleet. The policy requires tracking of fuel efficiency for each County vehicle, sets goals for the integration of hybrid and all electric vehicles into the fleet as appropriate, and promotes safe and fuel-conserving driving practices for County staff.
The Climate Act
In 2019 the New York State Legislature passed comprehensive climate legislation: The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), also known as the Climate Act. The Climate Act sets ambitious goals for a carbon-free electricity system statewide by 2040 and an economy-wide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions 85% below 1990 levels by 2050. In December 2022, working groups released their Scoping Plan for implementation of the CLCPA, outlining specific strategies in the sectors of transportation, buildings, electricity, industry, agriculture and forestry, and waste, as well as detailed policies to ensure a just transition from fossil fuels, and climate justice for disadvantaged communities.
To learn more about the Climate Act, click here: https://climate.ny.gov/