WESTCHESTER

WESTCHESTER

Westchester County has a population of close to one million people, with a land area of 431 square miles and a population density of 2,300 people per square mile. Situated in the Hudson Valley, the county consists of six cities, 19 towns, and 23 villages. It lies in a humid temperate/subtropical region — its temperatures highly regulated by the ocean, keeping the region from being too cold or too warm

New York’s Hudson River is an estuary (i.e. where a freshwater river meets the ocean), turning the water brackish — that is, very slightly salty. Nurturing both saltwater and freshwater creatures, estuaries are one of the most important and productive ecosystems on earth. In fact, the Hudson estuary is home to some creatures New Yorkers might not think of as neighbors, including sharks, rays, and sea turtles. You can see these creatures at the New York Aquarium

Because Westchester, the 2nd largest county in NY,  is sandwiched between the Long Island Sound and the Hudson River, the county is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surges with predictions for the future significantly worse. Sea level rise for the Hudson River has averaged 0.11 inches per year from 1850 to 2017, nearly double the 1900–1990 mean global rate. Hudson River communities will not flood to the same degree as many parts of the US from the rise, thanks to the Hudson River’s steep banks, according to the NOAA’s Sea Level Rise Viewer. However, superstorms, which are becoming more common, are already seriously threatening Westchester; the County spent half a billion dollars to fix the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy alone. 

Temperatures are also expected to rise in the Hudson Valley and Catskills more drastically than most of the U.S. due to climate change, with the region seeing temperatures four-to-five degrees higher by 2050 when compared to the late 20th century. As temperatures rise and precipitation patterns change, its ecosystem will struggle to adapt. For example, “Vector-borne diseases” — those transmitted by ticks, mosquitoes and fleas — are expected to increase in the Northeast due to the broadening ranges of their hosts.

Warmer temperatures are also expected to create die-offs of conifers at high elevations, such as those found in the Catskills. Freshwater life such as salamanders, invertebrates, mussels, trout, and other cold-water fish are expected to be drastically diminished. The habitats of dragonflies and damselflies, “species that are a good indicator of ecosystem health along rivers” are expected to decline 45-99 percent by 2080 in the Northeast.

Westchester began stepping up to face this challenge early. In 2008, they passed the Westchester Action Plan for Climate Change and Sustainable Development. That plan focused on updating the Community of Westchester’s six-year-old greenhouse gas emissions inventory, recommending an emissions reduction goal, and developing an action plan for all sectors to achieve that goal. In developing the action plan, Westchester evaluated their energy, transportation, land use, water resources, and recycling industries.  In December of 2015, Westchester’s Board of Legislators voted to make the County a New York Climate Smart Community, formally committing Westchester to a pledge of GHG emission reduction, decreasing energy use, climate-smart waste practices, and community climate change adaptation.

In January of 2020, the town of Ossining, Westchester was awarded a climate action grant of $100K to administer a collaborative working group tasked with completing individual government operations greenhouse gas inventories, and climate action plans that will outline emissions reduction targets, strategies, and projects. 

Westchester’s energy system and usage is chronicled by its multiple municipalities, and thus hard to judge. However, in late 2014, a group of 17 Westchester municipalities formed a non-profit, Sustainable Westchester, which in May 2016, launched  Westchester Power, New York State’s first Community Choice Aggregation Program (CCA) and signed a novel two-year agreement with ConEdison to supply 90,000 homes and small businesses with electricity at a fixed rate generated from wind, solar and hydro projects. Utility company Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, a sister company of ConEdison Solutions, now supplies these homes and businesses with electricity at a fluctuating rate from traditional sources, such as natural gas and nuclear. Under the contract, energy users will be able to select an option of 100% renewable energy or a slightly cheaper option that includes a mix of renewable and traditional energy

Bedford, one of Westchester’s small towns (less than 18,000 people) created its own climate action plan in 2010, first calling itself Bedford2020 and now Bedford2030. In their first ten years, they reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 44% and set an aggressive new community-wide goal to reduce ghg emissions 80% by 2030 through “increasing renewable energy usage, phasing out fossil fuels, reducing waste and adopting clean and healthy water, land and sustainable food practices.

Most of Westchester has a moratorium on natural gas usage, which applies to new residential, and commercial and industrial customer gas service connections.

CURRENT NEWS

PLANS TO ACCELERATE RENEWABLES

Action Plan for Climate Change and Sustainable Development

01/10/20
According to the Westchester Action Plan for Climate Change and Sustainable Development, every resident, business, government, K-12 school or college/university in Westchester should strive to reduce its “carbon footprint” by 20 percent by 2015 and…

KEY RESOURCES

About the Westchester Natural Gas Moratorium

10/20/20
In partnership with our customers, stakeholders, and regulators, we have made great improvements to the air quality in our service area with customers converting from oil to natural gas for their heating needs. The demand…

Bedford 2020

01/10/20
Community engagement, education and the creation of grassroots support for climate change projects have been the focus of Bedford 2020 since its creation in 2010. We are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making a difference…

Sustainable Westchester

01/10/20
Sustainable Westchester is the expression of your local governments’ determination to turn our environmental challenges into opportunities to improve the quality of life, economy and future prospects of the citizens of the county. It brings…

Climate Crisis Initiative and Task Force

01/10/20
In 2008, County Executive Andrew Spano created a Global Warming Task Force that produced the Westchester Action Plan for Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Since 2008, the science on climate disruption has become more clear…

Citizens’ Climate Lobby – Westchester NY Chapter

01/10/20
Citizens Climate Lobby is a non-profit, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change.

Westchester Power

01/10/20
Westchester Power (Community Choice Aggregation, a/k/a CCA) is a community-based bulk energy purchasing program intended to lower costs and increase the use of renewable energy in Westchester County. Westchester Power is a program initiated and…

Energy Sage: Best solar companies in Westchester County, NY for 2020

01/10/20
Solar installers ready to help in nearby locations.

Clean Transportation Project

01/10/20
Sustainable Westchester has fully embraced the challenge of the 27% of our greenhouse gas footprint that is transportation. We are very enthusiastic about the resurgence in interest in non-automobile mobility, and have actively promoted public…

MORE NEWS

Rivertowns Energy Upgrades now Easier with Heat Pump Permit Fee Waivers

By Lily Carey   03/16/22  
The Vil­lages of Tar­ry­town, Irv­ing­ton and Sleepy Hol­low have col­lab­o­rated to waive pro­ject fees for the in­stal­la­tion of eco-friendly home heat­ing sys­tems, mak­ing it far eas­ier and cheaper for home­own­ers to lower their car­bon foot­print.

100 Upstate NY Groups Call on Gov. Hochul to Support Immediate Gas Ban In New Buildings Via State Budget

03/10/22  
Today, days before One-House budgets are expected to be announced, 100 organizations from upstate New York issued letters to Governor Hochul urging her support for an immediate gas ban in new buildings via her state…

FROM YONKERS TO YORKTOWN, WESTCHESTER SAYS NO TO 17% CON ED RATE HIKE

By Dan Murphy   02/12/22  
The outrage to a proposed 17% Con Edison rate hike has spread across Westchester and New York State, at the same time as residents in Yonkers are being offered a renewable energy rate from Westchester…

YONKERS ANNOUNCES 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY SUPPLY PROGRAM FOR RESIDENTS

01/09/22  
On Jan. 5, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano announced the launch of the Westchester Power Community Choice Aggregation program in Yonkers, known as Westchester Power, which will provide 50,000 Yonkers households with locally sourced 100% renewable…

Westchester Power Switches to Constellation Energy

By Carol Reif   01/08/22  
Sustainable Westchester’s energy buying machine just got a do-over. The nonprofit had to “pause” Westchester Power – its Community Choice Aggregation program – after the contract with its supplier, Eligo Energy, ended in November.

County Executive George Latimer Signs 2022 Westchester County Budget

12/14/21  
Westchester County Executive George Latimer has signed the 2022 Westchester County Budget officially cutting the County Property tax levy by $7 million dollars. This is the third County property tax cut in a row for…

NY Small Towns See Opportunity to Address Climate Change Locally

By Emily Scott   12/03/21  
HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- One of the major takeaways from last month's big climate conference in Scotland is, all levels of government need to collaborate to address climate change. One small New York community is trying…

The Westchester County Association Celebrates New Clean Energy Portal

By Duke Ratliff and Joe Cesarano   11/30/21  
As one of the leading economic development and business advocacy organizations in the county, the Westchester County Association (WCA) recently partnered with the Pace University Energy and Climate Center to launch a Clean Energy Portal.

Town Of Mamaroneck Declares Climate Emergency

By Jeff Edwards  Photo: Jeff Edwards , Patch   11/22/21  
On November 17, the Mamaroneck Town Board adopted a Climate Emergency Declaration, following the lead of Westchester County and the City of New Rochelle. New Rochelle and Westchester County officials adopted similar declarations earlier this…

Ida aftermath continues: Insurance policies, mitigation options sought in Scarsdale

By Todd Sliss  Photo: Valerie Abrahams   10/07/21  
After lower Westchester County residents’ properties got flooded by the unexpected record-breaking rain brought on in a short time by the remnants of Hurricane Ida on the night of Wednesday, Sept. 1, insurance agents got…

Sleepy Hollow Woman to Make History as New Riverkeeper Leader

By Rick Pez­zullo   09/30/21  
A Sleepy Hol­low res­i­dent has been cho­sen to be the first woman to lead River­keeper, the non-profit en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion of the Hud­son River and its trib­u­taries, as well as the wa­ter­sheds…

To power NYC in an era of climate change, look to nuclear

By Leonard Rodberg  Photo: Seth Wenig/AP   09/26/21  
Sunday is the end of Climate Week, which is why many are focusing more than usual on the damage climate change is causing in the New York region. Unfortunately, in its woefully incomplete, overly ideological…