With environmental protections being rolled back at the federal level, now more than ever it’s clear that lasting change needs to come from the ground up. Combining research, education, advocacy, and project coordination, CLP supports community and municipal engagement in energy decision-making, transforming energy policy and practice to strengthen local economies, mitigate climate change and increase resilience. Given the increasing pace of global warming, 2018 was a busy year for us.
What CLP Did in 2018
We helped to secure the first-ever reduction in Central Hudson’s fixed customer charge. In the summer of 2017, Central Hudson submitted a new rate plan, asking for permission to charge residents and small businesses more for electricity and gas beginning in 2018. As a party to the rate proceeding, CLP submitted testimony and actively participated in settlement negotiations, led by our indomitable director Jen Metzger (now Senator Metzger!). Seeking a reduction in the fixed charge was a top priority of CLP’s in this rate case, in addition to fighting the rate increase.
CLP, working with other community and non-profit groups, played a major role in getting the NYS Public Service Commission to approve a three-year rate plan that includes the first-ever reduction in the utility’s fixed residential customer charge. Central Hudson’s fixed charge of $24.00 per month—the highest in the state—will drop by $5 by 2020. While CLP would have preferred to see a steeper reduction, the agreement among the parties to reduce the fixed charge is a step in the right direction and an unquestionable win for residential and small business customers.
The Joint Proposal also calls for a more modest overall rate hike than first proposed, an end to the natural gas expansion program, more money for renewables, and a geothermal credit. Nevertheless, CLP thinks the rate increase is still too big -- especially in the third year, when customer bills will increase by an average of $5 -- and we did not sign on to the final agreement.
We are helping to fight the Lincoln Park fossil fuel plant proposed for the Town of Ulster. In late 2017 a proposal was made by Chicago-based company GildePath to build the “Lincoln Park Grid Support Center”—a 20-Megawatt fracked-gas-driven peak power plant with lithium-ion battery storage and diesel back-up—in the Town of Ulster. The grassroots groups KingstonCitizens.org and the newly formed TownofUlsterCitizens.org jumped to action and formed a coalition of partners to help guide the public in the SEQR process.
As part of that coalition, CLP’s Evelyn Wright participated in numerous public forums and webinars, educating citizens about the New Capacity Zone, which has made this location a prime target for peaker plants, and about how this project would directly affect our communities and what towns can do to prevent other, similar ones. CLP also submitted comments on the draft scope for the project and the draft environmental impact study.
CLP continues to work with the coalition to educate and involve citizens, oppose the Lincoln Park Project, and seek out alternatives to new fossil fuel development.
We participated in the Mid-Hudson Streetlight Consortium. A NYSERDA-funded project allowed CLP, working with Courtney Strong, Inc., to help create an affordable pathway to LED streetlight conversion for municipalities in Central Hudson, Orange & Rockland, and NYSEG territories. The Mid-Hudson Streetlight Consortium was formed to help municipalities convert their streetlights to LED lights -- a change that offers significant savings especially when towns elect to purchase their lights. The final report—to which CLP’s Jen Metzger and Evelyn Wright contributed significantly—was published in later 2018. As a result, more than 20 municipalities are moving forward with converting their streetlights to more energy-efficient LEDs, and we are confident that many more will follow.
We continued to educate about the potential and challenges of Community Choice Aggregation. In 2017, CLP participated in a state-level working group that, in January of 2018, published a Community Choice Aggregation Policy Recommendations Report. The report outlines a model for CCA in New York State and policy recommendations addressing barriers to CCA development and effectiveness. CLP, which played a role in persuading the PSC to enable CCA in New York, has long advocated for CCA “2.0” in New York—a version of CCA that enables communities to invest in local green energy supply and other services aligned with local needs and goals. But state policy is not there yet. As the PSC began to approve “generic” CCA implementation plans, CLP compiled a list of recommendations and questions for elected officials and residents to ask if their municipality is considering joining a CCA.
We worked with and supported our energy allies throughout the state. From various working groups to sign-on letters, to coordinated press conferences, CLP engaged with like-minded organizations to push for a green economy in New York State.
Where We Go from Here: Community Energy!
In September of 2018, Kingston Mayor Steve Noble announced a $3 million investment in the Kingston City Land Bank to support its economic community development initiatives in the Midtown neighborhood by purchasing and renovating foreclosed homes. CLP sees this as a great opportunity to build a community energy project that will, among other things, provide local job training and create a “Green Jobs Pipeline” in the Hudson Valley. Thanks to a generous grant from the Sparkplug Foundation, we have begun work to engage grassroots groups, city leaders, and the Kingston Land Bank to ensure that the renovation of foreclosed homes maximizes green energy tech while training & employing residents; avoids gentrification, and fosters democratic knowledge and skills for a locally based clean energy economy.
2019 brings with it significant changes for CLP as well. After a hard-fought campaign, our co-founder and Director Jen Metzger has been elected to the New York State Senate to represent District 42. Although we’re sad to see her step down as Director, we are very excited to have her representing us in Albany. As ever, Jen is committed to building a clean energy economy that protects our environment, and we are sure she will work hard to affect change at the state level to ensure a greener New York for all of us.
In 2013, CLP was founded by 10 women who affectionately referred to themselves as the "kitchen cabinet,” meeting weekly in the president’s kitchen. Six years later, our organization continues to be run by a small group of committed volunteers. If you’re interested in getting involved, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to work with you.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, we depend on generous donations from community members to further our mission. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution today. Your generous donation will be used for staffing support, development of education and outreach materials, and to continue our work to create a locally based clean-energy economy in the Mid-Hudson Valley.
Tax-deductible contributions can be made to CLP at https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/general-contributions
Thank you so much for your continued support. We look forward to working together to affect big changes in 2019.
Citizens for Local Power Board of Directors