In order to reach the greenhouse-gas emission goals set by Governor Cuomo, New Paltz village officials have to change how government business is done. The goals set by the governor reduce greenhouse gases by 85% by 2050. The plan pitched by Janelle Peotter and Amanda Gotto of the New Paltz Climate Smart Task Force calls for more electric vehicles in the village fleet, finishing the conversion of street lights to light-emitting diodes and cutting energy consumption in the water and wastewater treatment plants especially.
The greenhouse gas inventory revealed that 636-and-a-half tons of carbon or its equivalent were produced from village assets and facilities in 2016 and from that baseline this plan would reduce that by 335 tons over the next five years. Much of that — 266 tons — has already been achieved by trustees switching electricity providers in the time since the inventory data were collected. What’s left will take more effort than a simple vote, but work is already in progress. The LED conversion of street lights has been ongoing for more than two years, for example, and an architect was hired to find ways to green-up the design for the new firehouse to be built next year. Mayor Tim Rogers talked about plans to build solar arrays at both water and wastewater treatment plants; this would in no way reduce the tremendous amount of energy necessary to pump water and compress raw sewage, but both locations are promising for siting arrays to use to offset those consumptive processes.
Rogers said that there won’t be electric alternatives for the largest trucks needed for some time, but seeking to procure smaller vehicles that are fully-electric is a possibility. Alongside that, trustees can pass a policy on idling. “There’s no need to warm up modern cars,” deputy mayor KT Tobin said, and few reasons to leave any village engine idling for any period of time. State law does limit how long truck engines are allowed to idle, but the new policy would likely be more restrictive in terms of time and more inclusive in terms of vehicle types. Gotto predicted that such measures could also end up saving taxpayers $60,000 a year in fuel expense.
Current trustees are willing, but the changes are becoming more difficult to find. William Wheeler Murray was skeptical about how much energy savings could be found in the treatment plants, and whether it’s feasible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10%. Rogers said that all the “low-hanging fruit” in the village’s energy tree had already been picked. Nevertheless, Tobin applauded the fact that they can now base these discussions on “real data” from the inventory.