Renewable Energy Now for Dutchess County sign now

Given the atrocious state of the air quality here in Dutchess County documented repeatedly by local and national experts (see below), our county government should be doing all it can to switch to
clean, renewable sources of energy instead of burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas that pollute the air with noxious emissions and greenhouse gases besides.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case, as the Daily Freeman reminded us on June 14th and June 19th.

Fact: The Dutchess County Legislature passed a resolution in 2004 that 10\% of our county government's energy needs would come from renewable sources.

Fact: No one in our county government has been able to adequately explain what's happened since that resolution passed.

Fact: Local experts have independently stated that our County Attorney's office refused to allow the county to follow through on the 2004 resolution passed overwhelmingly by our County Legislature.

Fact: County Legislatures in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester have all recently passed resolutions for 25\% of their county government's energy needs to come from renewable energy sources by 2010. There are now well over fifty different municipalities (including Rockland and Livingston counties) across the state getting a percentage of their electricity from a renewable source such as wind power.
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Fact: For the last six years in a row running the American Lung Association of New York State has rated Dutchess County air quality an "F." [see ]
Fact: "According to the DEC, Dutchess County is currently classified as a non-attainment area for the 8-hour ozone requirements under the NAAQS." [EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standards-- this from March 22nd report this year from Dr. Allison Chatrchyan, Ph. D, Environmental Program Leader for Cornell Cooperative Extension's Environmental Program; see: ]

Fact: Dutchess County's average hourly concentration of ozone has been found to be much higher than even that of New York City's, according to a recent study conducted at Millbrook's Institute of Ecosystem Studies by Dr. Clive Jones, Jillian Gregg, and Todd Dawson [this was on the front page of both the Poughkeepsie Journal and New York Times just a few years ago; see ].

Fact: "Since 1970, winter temperatures in the Northeast have increased 4.3 degrees...'This is a tremendous change in 30 years' time,' said Cameron Wake, a University of New Hampshire scientist who contributed to a comprehensive report about climate change in the Northeastern United States and adjacent Canadian provinces...conference about climate change in the Hudson Valley organized by Department of Environmental Conservation" [Poughkeepsie Journal 12/17/06].

Fact: According to the BBC last December 14th, "The top 10 warmest years recorded globally have all occurred during the last 12 years."
[see ; also "Humans Faulted for Global Warming: International Panel of Climate Scientists Sounds Dire Alarm" by Juliet Eilperin for the Washington Post Feb. 3rd: .]

Enough is enough-- sign on to this petition; email [email protected] and [email protected] and tell our County Legislature and County Executive to make sure our county government is at least doing what Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties have decided to do-- make sure that at least 25\% of their county government's power/energy needs come from renewable sources by 2010.

Joel Tyner
County Legislator
324 Browns Pond Road
Staatsburg, NY 12580
[email protected]
(845) 876-2488

[see: "Dutchess Lawmakers Reject Renewable Energy Increase"
by William Kemble (Daily Freeman 6/14/07): ]

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"It Shouldn't Be a Secret"
[Daily Freeman editorial 6/19/07]

Over the years, Dutchess County Executive William Steinhaus has rarely missed an opportunity to brag about his management capabilities.

If you were to swallow it all, you might think former GE chief executive Jack Welch, the cover boy darling of the business press, would be well-advised to take a colloquium or two from Steinhaus.

Against that background, you may be excused a little skepticism about why the Steinhaus administration has been unable or unwilling to produce records on county electricity consumption, as required by a 2004 policy established by the Dutchess County Legislature.

In 2004, the Legislature passed a policy effectively directing Steinhaus to make 10 percent of the county's electricity purchases from renewable resources.

As a policy matter, an environmental goal such as that is solidly within the normal purview of a county legislature.

As a matter of jurisdiction, it's a no-brainer - the legislature sets policy and the executive, well, executes the policy.

Executing this policy would require some fairly simple accounting. In turn, such accounting would mean that a straightforward question about whether the county is meeting the policy goal should be a snap to answer. Any administrator worth his salt is going to be able to put his hand's on the updated answer to that question in a matter of minutes, as long as he has taken care to implement the policy as directed.

Instead, says county Legislator Joel Tyner, D-Clinton/Rhinebeck, he has been given the runaround by the Steinhaus administration, leaving the Legislature uncertain whether its policy has been executed.

This is unacceptable.

The Legislature has every right and should have every expectation to obtain the information it needs to do its job. Heck, an average citizen inquiring about energy use should be able to get that answer from her county government.

Tyner claims that administration insiders say Steinhaus has deliberately blocked implementation of the policy.

If true, that also is unacceptable.

Setting policy is a legislative prerogative. Once policies have been established, the county executive is not free to pick and choose which he will execute. He is free to execute them to the best of his ability and may demand the Legislature not attempt to micromanage that implementation. But he is decidedly not free to ignore an adopted policy.

Finally, let's not forget that a much higher objective than protection of the county executive's fiefdom is at stake here.

Cleaner energy consumption is an important societal goal and one that county government can encourage by example.

Steinhaus, who has been furiously trying to paint himself greener than Kermit the Frog, needs to rein in his considerable ego and concede there's room within county government for more than one player on the field of the environment.

Maybe by spending less effort on political gamesmanship he can free a little time to execute a simple policy. Execution, after all, is part of the job title and what he was elected to do.

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"Dutchess Lawmakers Reject Renewable Energy Increase"
by William Kemble [Daily Freeman 6/14/07]

POUGHKEEPSIE - Dutchess County lawmakers, uncertain that a 3-year-old energy policy is being followed, have voted against increasing the percentage of renewable energy purchased by the county government.

A resolution to increase the percentage from 10 to 25 percent of the county government's total electric use failed in a 7-1 vote of the county Legislature's Environmental Committee last week. Legislator Joel Tyner said there is apparently no information available on energy use and purchases since a 2004 policy was adopted by the Legislature.

"Over and over and over again I did try to do my due diligence," said Tyner, D-Clinton. "I called (the county Department of Public Works) so many times and nobody could tell me."

His comments followed a complaint by Republican lawmakers that the resolution was improper because it did not contain a fiscal impact statement.

Tyner responded that the information was not available because the county had not kept records on energy costs under the 2004 policy. He added that people within county agencies have said there has apparently been an intentional effort to keep the policy from being implemented.

"Somebody who is an expert on this said, 'You know what happened in 2004, the county attorney put a kibosh on this,'" Tyner said.

Neither former County Attorney Ian McDonald, who retired in 2005, nor County Executive William Steinhaus, could be reached for comment Wednesday.

At the time it was approved, the policy was expected to result in additional costs of $25,743 based on electric use from a year earlier. It was supposed to require that a contract be signed with the firm Community Energy for the purchase of electricity from a Madison County wind farm.

Officials have reported that the county government uses between 12 million and 13 million kilowatts hours of electricity per year.

Minority Leader Roger Higgins, D-New Hamburg, said it was troubling that "nobody seems to be able to answer what I consider to be the important question: Are we following the policy?"

Committee Chairwoman Shannon LaFrance, R-Fishkill, said administrators would be asked to provide information on how to trace the amount of energy purchased from renewable sources.

"My understanding is that there is some purchase of renewable energy but I could not testify as to how much," she said, later adding that "I advised that I absolutely would invite those people to a committee meeting."

After efforts to table the resolution failed, county Legislator Fred Bunnell, D-Poughkeepsie, said lawmakers have become more interested in partisan politics than finding answers.

"We all say we proclaim our 'greenness.' Let's not get hung up on this petty debate about procedure," he said.

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Yes, I've been recently informed that the County Attorney's office stopped county-level efforts on this several years ago, saying such county government purchase would be "illegal"(!)...though many municipalities at that point had already moved to purchase wind power-- now at least 58...this was after our County Legislature passed a resolution for ten percent of county government power to come from renewable energy sources.

From the Town of Clinton's own Ron Kamen ([email protected])...
Subject: Wind Purchases

"Dutchess could purchase wind energy for a premium of 1.5 cents per kwh - the
same price that Nassau County is paying for 10 million kwhs per year (about
10\% of their electricity).

I took a look - Dutchess is using about 12 million kwhs per year.

[10\% next year for our county would cost $18,000-- a small price to pay to go in right direction towards 25\% by 2010!]

New York State's goal is to increase the amount of renewables supplying our
electricity from 19\% (basically all hydro) to 25\% by 2013.

1\% of the 6\% incremental goal (19\% + 6\% = 25\%) is to come from voluntary
purchases by government agencies, municipalities, non-profit organizations,
and residents. The other 5\% is being made by NYSERDA.

Starphire currently supplies 10 million kwhs of wind energy to over 4,000
residential customers of NYSEG Solutions and Energetix, plus another 10
million kwhs to Nassau County. We also supply 68 milion kwhs of other forms
of renewable energy to the New York Power Authority."

[email protected]
Phone: 845-266-3723
Cell: 917-453-5740
Fax: 800-495-8048

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From Citizens Campaign for the Environment...

[see ]

Nassau County
In March 2004, the Nassau County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution for the County to purchase no less than 25\% renewable energy by the year 2010.

Suffolk County
In April 2005, Suffolk County passed two renewable energy resolutions! The first is a long-term goal to purchase 25\% renewable energy by the year 2010. The second is an immediate 5\% purchase of wind energy.

Westchester County
In December 2003, the Westchester County Legislature passed a resolution calling for the purchase of no less than 25\% renewable energy by the year 2010. The resolution was introduced by Martin Rogowsky ( D-Harrison) and Michael Kaplowitz (D-Somers) and was passed by a vote of 15-0.

Rockland County
Rockland, in the Lower Hudson Valley region of New York State, passed a resolution on October 21, 2003, calling for 18\% of the Countys energy needs to be produced using renewable energy resources by 2010.

Livingston County
In July 2004, the Livingston County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling for the purchase of 10\% wind energy. The resolution stated that purchasing would begin August 1, making it the first county in New York State to actually purchase wind energy.

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[Here's the resolution Co. Leg.'s Tyner and Ray submitted in mid-May for June-- that unfortunately did not get passed.]

WHEREAS, in 2003, the Westchester County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution calling for the purchase of no less than 25\% renewable energy by the year 2010, and

WHEREAS, in 2004, the Nassau County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution for the County to purchase no less than 25\% renewable energy by the year 2010, and

WHEREAS, in 2005, the Suffolk County Legislature passed a resolution for the County to purchase no less than 25\% renewable energy by the year 2010, and

WHEREAS, Dutchess County still gets far too little of its energy from renewable resources such as wind and solar energy; the overwhelming percentage of Dutchess County's energy is derived from dirty fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas; these sources of energy lead to acid rain, global warming, smog, asthma, respiratory illnesses, and nitrogen loading into our already distressed estuaries, and

WHEREAS, the use of clean, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and tidal has many benefits including in-county production opportunities such as local use of solar technology, minimal environmental impacts, increased income for local producers including small farm interests, economic development support and dramatic air quality improvements, and

WHEREAS, municipalities such as Dutchess County need to be leaders in advancing renewable energy throughout New York; Dutchess County should set an example to all their towns, villages, and residents, emphasizing that energy independence starts here and now, and

WHEREAS, increasing local demand for clean, renewable energy production helps to redirect regional, state and national energy policies, and therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Dutchess County Legislature hereby makes a commitment that Dutchess County shall purchase no less than 25\% renewable energy by the year 2010, and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to County Executive William Steinhaus and County Department of Public Works Commissioner Michael Murphy.

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