3rd Annual Summit Featured Student Organizing and How to Reach New York’s Groundbreaking Climate Goals

After holding events in Rochester in 2017 and Syracuse in 2018, the grassroots Climate Solutions Summit hosted its 3rd event in New Paltz on September 21st. This year’s event, co-sponsored by dozens of organizations and hosted by SUNY New Paltz, brought record breaking turnout with more than 300 attendees. The summit took place during a week of global climate strikes and actions in solidarity with youth school strikes known as “Fridays for our Future” and “School Strike for the Climate.” The summit attracted a large number of students with its special student track of workshops.

The Student Climate Coalition launched at the Climate Solutions Summit.
Student Climate Coalition launch panelist from Greening Forward
ESF student presenting on the Greening Your School panel to student groups from Ellenville High School and Dream Charter School
Senator Jen Metzger with students from Ellenville High School with Go Beyond Greatness and students from NYC’s Dream Charter School. The Student Climate Coalition and Greening Forward are also represented here.

The summit aims to build a larger movement across the northeast that is prepared to take action to implement effective climate solutions. The annual event provides an opportunity for organizers and people from communities across the region to come together to share projects, case studies, resources, experiences and skills to tackle climate change and implement solutions.

Mark Lowery from the Office of Climate Change of the NYSDEC speaking on Scaling Climate Solutions from the Community Up

The summit’s opening panel, entitled, “How to Accomplish New York’s Clean Energy and Climate Goals,” featured State Senator Jen Metzger, First Assistant Secretary for Energy and the Environment to the Governor Amanda Lefton, Executive Director of Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) Anne Reynolds, Ulster County Legislator and Clearwater Environmental Director Manna Jo Greene and Environmental and Advocacy Coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice Stephan Roundtree. See the live streamed opening panel video here.

Stephan Roundtree from WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Manna Jo Greene from Hudson Valley Sloop Clear Water, NYS Senator Jen Metzger, Amanda Lefton from the Governor’s Office, and Anne Reynolds from Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY)

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said, “We must do everything we can to combat the existential threat climate change poses to our communities. Discussions, like those held at the Climate Solutions Summit, are essential in gaining support and finding real solutions to address our climate emergency. Defending and protecting our climate and introducing innovative ways to address the climate crisis is one of my top priorities, and I am eager to continue fighting for a greener future here in Ulster County and beyond.”

Anne Reynolds of the Alliance for Clean Energy stated, “To show leadership on climate change, New York needs to get renewable energy projects built. And the imperative to build wind and solar projects depends on communities welcoming these projects into their towns. It was great to take part in discussions at the Climate Solutions Summit about community support and real solutions for New York.”

Amanda Lefton from the Governor’s Office, and Anne Reynolds from Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) on the Summit Opening Panel

“This excellent and timely Climate Solutions Summit demonstrated unequivocally that the transition to a Renewable Energy Economy with storage and efficiency is not only possible, it is both necessary and powerfully in progress as we speak,” said Manna Jo Greene, Ulster County Legislator and Environmental Director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. “That said,” she continued, “renowned climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann, cautions that we must stop burning fossil fuel now to be sure that climate solutions can and will be effective. Let’s join together to create a Regional Renewable Energy Implementation Plan as a roadmap to ensure the goals of New York’s ambitious  Climate Leadership and Community Protect Plan (CLCPA) are actually attained by 2030.”

Stephan Roundtree from WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Manna Jo Greene from Hudson Valley Sloop Clear Water on the Summit Opening Panel

The panel’s moderator, Betta Broad, director of New Yorkers for Clean Power that led the Summit organizing said, “We are thrilled to bring together so many people who are committed to climate action and implementing solutions in their own communities. New York State has the opportunity to lead the nation in climate action but it’s going to take all of us to make our goals a reality on the ground. Working together we can do it and it’s not too late.”

The workshops and panels focused on renewable energy technologies like solar and heat pumps, energy efficiency, clean transportation, climate justice, clean energy careers, and organizing in our schools and communities for climate solutions from renewable energy planning to transit-oriented development.

“It was fantastic that the location for the Climate Solutions Summit was held in New Paltz this year because we are making huge strides in our community to become Climate Smart and I found that the summit panels and workshops gave us inspiration for new solutions,”  said Janelle Peotter, the Coordinator for New Paltz Climate Smart.  “It was great to be able to cap the end of the summit with our second annual Zero Emissions Parade showcasing electric vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians only two days before our community leaders do an intensive all day workshop on Complete Streets.”

Welcome and Opening Panel in the Multipurpose Room of SUNY New Paltz

“Housing is the predominant land use in most urbanized areas and also a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.There is a continued need for affordable environmentally friendly housing. Highlighting sustainable strategies to achieve zero-net energy housing will showcase two projects currently under construction in Ulster County to provide needed housing for residents and reduce harm to the environment,” said Guy Kempe, VP for Community Development at RUPCO, Inc.

“As the climate crisis has advanced, so has climate action as an arena of expertise and creativity.  Whether you are a scientist modeling the impact of solutions or an entrepreneur designing battery production facilities, there is a dynamic world of work to be done and it’s growing,” said Melissa Everett, Executive Director of Sustainable Hudson Valley and moderator of the Climate Careers panel.

Melissa Everette from Sustainable Hudson Valley, Sarah Womer from North Star Recycling, and Ashley Knox from Go Beyond Greatness during the Climate Solutions Careers Panel of the student track for this Summit.

“By focusing on solutions,” said Dr. Kathleen Nolan, Research Director at Catskill Mountainkeeper, who attended the conference, “we shift our narratives from grappling with problems to shaping and enlivening our future.” She continued: “As we adopt new behaviors and think more creatively about how to live well in homes, and cars, and businesses powered by renewables like solar and wind and while also generating less waste, we are finding ourselves in closer touch with our families and communities, as well as with our earth itself.”

“To meet the ambitious mandates set forth in New York’s new climate legislation, we need an all hands on deck multi-sector approach to move New York communities, buildings, cities, and businesses towards the future we all want: a decarbonized society that puts people over fossil fuel profits. Governor Cuomo would do well to show up at the Climate Solutions Summit and learn from an amazing list of speakers working on the frontlines of our green energy economy!” Andrew Pezzullo, Hudson Valley organizer at Food and Water Action and Food and Water Watch.

Ashley Knox from Go Beyond Greatness and Cal Trumann from SunCommon during the Climate Solutions Careers Panel of the student track for this Summit.

“2019 is a critical time for climate action, and an exciting time to be doing that work in New York state. Ulster County is a leader in climate policy statewide, and New York is pushing some of the most ambitious action on climate change in the country. Figuring out what works right here in New Paltz and the surrounding area can inform the climate agenda of the whole country, so it’s pretty powerful that this forward-thinking little town is hosting the summit this year.” Cal Trumann, Solar Community Organizer for SunCommon, Hudson Valley-based renewable energy B Corp.

The summit included a green vendor fair, a waste-free and vegan breakfast and lunch, and the second annual Zero Emissions Parade organized by New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, featuring marchers, bikers, and electric vehicles.

Andra Leimanis from Alliance for a Green Economy tabling as a green vendor at the Summit.

The 2019 Climate Solutions Summit was Co-Sponsored by SUNY New Paltz, New Yorkers for Clean Power, ACE NY, Sustainable Hudson Valley, The Climate Reality Project, New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, AGREE NY, New Paltz Climate Smart, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Hudson Valley Regional Council, Food & Water Watch, Catskill Mountainkeeper, SunCommon, RUPCO, Scenic Hudson, Marbletown Environmental Conservation Commission, NYPIRG, Environmental Advocates of NY, and Protecting Our Waters.

Summit Sponsors and Supporters. (Ulster County Executive, Pat Ryan, walking across the stage to contribute welcoming remarks)

More info at www.ClimateSolutionsSummit.org 

Full photo album here

The Student Climate Coalition was initiated by the regional high school interns of New Yorkers for Clean Power and an expanding network of students and young people from around the Northeast. The Coalition works to connect, educate and empower students on sustainable practices and renewable energy projects; and establish common goals based on climate solutions and sustainability for local schools and communities.

Currently the Coalition is planning it’s participation and official launch at the Climate Solutions Summit at SUNY New Paltz on Saturday, September 21st. The coalition’s membership ranges from high school and college students with some middle school and graduate student partners.

Members of the Student Climate Coalition will be presenting their experience with environmental and sustainability projects and their plans for the future at the Climate Solution Summit.

If you are interested in participating in the Student Climate Coalition or want more information, reach out at studentclimatecoalition@gmail.com or mic@nyforcleanpower.org

Happy Earth Day! Today we celebrate our planet and all that it provides for us by considering how we can give back. At NYCP, we are focused on preserving our natural environment by expanding and utilizing renewable energy, efficiency and EVs, but there are many ways we can contribute to a healthier, more sustainable world. Take this Earth Day to make some eco-friendly changes in your life.

First Steps to Energy Efficiency

A strong start to reducing your carbon footprint is by making sure the energy you already use in your life is being used efficiently, and not going to waste.

1. Conserve Energy: Turn lights, TVs and other electronics off when not in use. Reduce “phantom” power by plugging in your appliance to a power strip and switching it off when not in use. Get a programmable thermostat!

2. Sign up for an Energy Audit: Get an assessment of where your home is wasting energy (free for most New Yorkers)! Check out our Energy Efficiency page for more info & a link to an audit.

3. Do an Energy Retrofit: Add air sealing & insulation to your building & switch to LED lighting.

Renewable Air Source Heat Pump

4. Go Renewable! Sign up for community renewables like community solar. If you get a Con Edison bill check out Power Market community solar, or if you get a National Grid bill check out Common Energy community solar! You can also find a renewable installer near you by visiting our Solar, Wind & Clean Heating and Cooling pages.

5. Choose Clean Transportation

Make your next car electric, take public transportation, ride a bike, walk, or carpool with a friend! And if you have to fly, “offset” the carbon emissions with Green-e® certified renewable energy & carbon offsets.

6. Eat Clean: Whether it’s Plant-based, vegan, vegetarian or meatless Mondays, decreasing your meat consumption & incorporating more plants into your diet is the biggest way to immediately reduce your carbon footprint. And it’s healthier! It is also important to eat organic, locally grown foods as often as you can. Support your local farmers market or join a Community Support Agriculture!

Related image

7. Compost & grow your own food: learn to compost and start a garden that’s eco-friendly! In an urban area? Consider a vertical garden.

Reduce, Repair, Reuse & Recycle! Saves money and reduces waste

8. Reuse: buy second hand, donate your old stuff, and consider hosting a clothing swap in your community.

9. Repair: instead of throwing it away, try to fix it. Utilize your local repair cafe or start your own!

10. Use alternatives to single use plastic and styrofoam: like reusable water bottles, bags, utensils, to go containers etc.

11. Recycle: in addition to paper, plastic & glass, learn how to recycle your electronics, refrigerator & AC units

12. Get involved! Take action with New Yorkers for Clean Power and other green organizations. You can subscribe to our email list for resources & info about upcoming events. Another great way to take action is by contacting your local elected officials about clean energy & climate action. Your voice and vote matters!

This list was made in collaboration with the dedicated NYCP interns of Suffern High School Environmental Activism Club! You can download this list as a brochure here.

Please support our work by donating to NYCP. Without your support and enthusiasm for a cleaner New York our work would not be possible.


Saturday, September 21st 9AM
Student Union, SUNY New Paltz
1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz, NY


Click here to register today!

Communities across the northeast are facing the reality of today’s climate challenges and are implementing solutions. The Climate Solutions Summit, on September 21st, provides an opportunity for organizers, students and people from all communities to actively collaborate on the climate solutions needed to protect our society and transition to a sustainable world. Starting at 9:00 AM, the Summit will provide a space to share projects, artwork, case studies, resources, experiences and skills to tackle climate change and implement solutions.

The transition to renewable energy and sustainability from a fossil fuel economy requires a solutions-focused movement. The Climate Solutions Summit fortifies existing momentum while inspiring new advocates to take action and lift up their communities. By inviting young people across New York State to participate in the Summit’s planning and organizing, we are ensuring that workshops and activities engage and empower youth attendees. This Summit’s intergenerational approach will expand the success of today’s environmental leaders while passing on experience to prepare the leaders of tomorrow.

Past Summits featured powerful keynotes, panels and workshops on renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, movement building and environmental justice. Like the first two, this year’s Summit will be inclusive and intersectional, inviting organizers, students and advocates from different backgrounds and regions of New York. The Climate Solutions Summit is working its way across the state, with the first summit in Western NY, the second in Central NY and the next in the Hudson Valley at SUNY New Paltz.

You can check out last year’s program here

If you are interested in participating in a workshop or event planning please contact us! We especially welcome and encourage students and youth to join the Summit planning.

Some of the organizing groups include: New Yorkers for Clean Power, Alliance for Clean Energy New York, SUNY New Paltz, Environmental Advocates of New York, New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, Hudson Valley Regional Council, Sustainable Hudson Valley, Scenic Hudson, NYPIRG, Clearwater, and the Alliance for a Green Economy.

By Michaela Ciovacco, NYCP Organizer

Solar power has become a lot more popular and affordable, however, renters and those who live in apartment buildings may have been feeling a bit left out. Until now, that is! Community solar projects are a new way for New Yorkers to buy renewable electricity — to choose energy that’s clean, plus save some green! Whether installing solar panels on one’s home or signing up for a community solar project, solar saves money! Instead of relying on dirty energy, residents can sign up for free to acquire the electrical output from a local solar project that is fed into the local power grid and credited directly to their monthly utility bill. It’s easy, saves money, and supports local clean energy development.

New Yorkers for Clean Power (NYCP) recently partnered with PowerMarket to help Central Hudson customers choose from a variety of renewable energy projects. In Westchester, PowerMarket launched ConEd’s first Community Solar Project: the Hawthorne Solar Warehouse. 25 households receive 100% of their electricity from clean solar power and the average household saved $255 in the first year, or about 10% on their electricity bills. Founded in 2016 and based out of Brooklyn, PowerMarket makes a wonderful point —  “Communities are becoming increasingly focused on local products. We now get our food, and beer locally. Why not electricity?” Sign up here if you’re a Central Hudson customer and here if you’re a National Grid customer and start saving money while supporting local, clean energy! If you live in another region of NYS, check out NYSERDA’s new tool to find a community solar project near you.

Something important to keep in mind with community solar projects is that they are not the same as Energy Service Companies/Suppliers (ESCOs) out there in the market. ESCOs can cost more than standard electric rates and are typically the go-between for residents and renewable energy projects in other states, whereas community renewable projects allow you to subscribe to local clean energy providers for a discount on your current electricity rate.

As we turn our back on fossil fuels in the vital shift to a renewable energy economy, it’s important that the transition is inclusive. NYCP is excited for the launch of a new state initiative to make community solar accessible to more New Yorkers. “Solar for All” is a NYSERDA program that’s specifically geared towards eligible low-income customers; the income limits for participants is  $27,816 for a household of 1 person, $36,372 for 2 people, $53,484 for 4 people, and so on. With Solar for All, there’s no cost at all for participation (there are no subscription fees or additional bills- a feature which can be appealing for those overwhelmed in the juggling act to pay bills on time). According to NYSERDA’s Elizabeth Tremblay, “customers will receive a no-cost subscription that will provide them approximately $5-$15 of savings off their monthly electric bill.”  This program is a great step in the right direction, towards a clean energy economy that benefits everyone. Here’s to all New Yorkers having the chance to think globally, act locally, decrease their carbon footprint & save some dough in the process!

For more information and resources, visit our Solar Power page.

The goal: in 2018, 100 Ulster County businesses, organizations, or municipalities will complete an energy retrofit, install solar or other renewable energy, or implement another action that will both save money and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Dreaming Green”
Flanked by the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River, Ulster County is famous for its beautiful outdoor landscapes and increasingly, as a leader in sustainability. Featured prominently in “Dreaming Green,” a special supplement in National Geographic, showcasing the County’s environmental efforts ranging from its extensive network of rail trails and electric vehicle charging stations, local agricultural projects, to procuring 100% of its electricity from renewable energy credits. Recently, the County turned on its new utility scale solar project sited on an old landfill. Under the leadership of County Executive Mike Hein, with the help of his dedicated staff including the Department of the Environment coordinator, Amanda LaValle, Ulster County is showing that sustainability goes hand in hand with economic development.

Now, with the Green Business Challenge (GBC), Ulster County will engage even more people to take action and address the climate crisis while investing in the local, green economy. The GBC is initiated by the Ulster Climate Smart Committee and spearheaded by its chair, Manna Jo Greene, an Ulster County legislator and longtime environmental leader in the Hudson Valley. Other members include the Climate Smart Committee, a team of volunteer GBC Ambassadors and local experts, with the support of the Ulster County Department of the Environment and the Office of Economic Development.

The purpose of the Ulster County Green Business Challenge is to help Ulster County businesses, organizations and municipalities reduce greenhouse gas emission, mitigate climate change, and in most cases, reap considerable savings doing so. Also of paramount importance is supporting local green building contractors, renewable energy providers and other businesses that implement sustainability practices.

New Yorkers for Clean Power is a proud partner of the Green Business Challenge and hosts GBC steering committee meetings at our Kingston storefront. Ultimately, we hope that this pilot project can serve as a model for other counties across New York State. Please contact betta@nyforcleanpower.org if you’re interested in starting a Green Business Challenge in your community!

For more on the Ulster County Green Business Challenge, visit

Watch this short video featuring the father and son who are working hard to make Bread Alone Bakery a thriving, green business!

Green Business Challenge Actions

Actions that businesses can take to become an Ulster County Green Business Leader:

1)    Energy audit: Undertaking an energy audit is usually the first step because that will help GBC participants to understand and prioritize the most effective actions to take, however the audit must be followed by one or more of the following actions:

2)    Energy retrofit: Undertake an energy retrofit, which can include: Air-sealing and insulation; Installing ground-source (geothermal) or air-source heat pump for heating and cooling; switching to LED lighting: interior, exterior or municipal street lighting

3)     Install a solar array or other renewable energy system to generate your own power: Wind or small, low-impact hydroelectric would also qualify.

4)    Purchase 100% renewable energy from a LOCAL source of renewable energy, such as a Community Solar Project or hydroelectric facility.

5)    Purchase an electric vehicle or install one or more electric vehicle charging stations. Switching to EV fleets is a great way to improve transportation, especially if combined with renewable energy generation

6)    Food waste reuse or composting: Restaurants and other food waste generators implement food waste reuse with Food Bank of the Hudson Valley and/or composting via local haulers who will take it to the UCRRA or other composting facilities.

7)    Other actions: Significantly reducing single use plastic and host of other actions that reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, or otherwise addresses climate change are welcome.


Kicking off the Green Business Challenge with Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and allies!

Learn More & Register

Top photo: Front row (From Left):  Ron Leonard, Climate Smart Community Member; Betta Broad, Outreach Director, New Yorkers for Clean Power; Amanda LaValle, Coordinator, Ulster County Department of the Environment; County Executive Mike Hein; Ulster County Legislator Manna Jo Greene; Kale Kaposhilin, Co-Founder, Tech Meet-up and MoonFarmer. Back row: Nels Leader, Vice-President, Bread Alone Bakery; Doug Comeau, Director of Engineering, Monhonk Mountian House; Bob Ryan, President of Ryan & Ryan Insurance Brokers, Inc.; Tom Holsapple, CEO, Frost Valley YMCA; Jeff Domasnski, Senior Manager, Energy & Sustainability Group at IBTS – Institute for Building Technology and Safety; Lisa Mitten, Campus Sustainability Coordinator, SUNY New Paltz.