News & Noteworthy

Stovetop Cook Off: How Induction Stoves are healthier, faster and more energy efficient!

By | News & Noteworthy

Stovetop Cook Off: How Induction Stoves are healthier,
faster and more energy efficient!

Home is where the heart is. Cooking at home brings delicious meals, but it can also bring a host of air contaminants and unsafe cooking conditions. Conventional gas stoves lead to unhealthy indoor air quality in your home. They emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and other harmful chemicals, which is exacerbated when gas stoves are not paired with an exhaust ventilation hood.

A study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University found that gas burners contribute 25-39% higher concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and 21-30% higher concentrations of carbon monoxide. When high levels of these toxins are introduced into our living environment, they can pose a significant threat to the health of our loved ones. They can worsen or trigger respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, especially for those with asthma, emphysema, or other preexisting health conditions.

You may ask then, what are alternative options to gas stoves? There are three main types of stoves: gas, electric, and induction. The chart below compares these three technologies, in terms of health, energy efficiency, cooking capacity, and environmental impacts.

Induction stoves prove to be the best alternative to conventional gas and electric stoves. These stoves are healthier, faster, safer, and the most energy efficient and environmentally-friendly out of all the options. To power the range, the induction stove works by sending electromagnetic currents directly into your pots and pans – therefore, heating your food directly rather than just the cooktop surface. In addition to these benefits, there are no open flames to worry about, so there’s less fretting over accidental fires, messes, or safety risks for your children.

There are a few things to keep in mind when making your next purchase. Induction stoves are generally more expensive and less available than electric or gas stoves. However, in recent years, prices have dropped significantly due to their growing popularity – making them a more attainable investment for the future of your health and the environment. Additionally, induction stoves are limited to certain cookware. They can’t be paired with copper, aluminum, and ceramic wares, but they work with anything that is magnetic. This includes most stainless steel, cast-iron, non-stick and other common cookware.

Electric stoves are also a good option compared to conventional gas stoves. Similar to induction stoves, they don’t release harmful particles into your home and environment. However, they can also be the least energy efficient option and be the slowest to heat up.

Whether you’re looking to replace your old gas stove due to usability or environmental reasons, now is the time to switch! Using a conventional gas stove to cook your meals 3x a day contributes to high levels of toxins from the burning of fossil fuels. To avoid this, switch over to stoves where you can eliminate harmful emissions. You can also reduce your carbon footprint even further by pairing these electric systems with a renewable energy source like solar, making your kitchen more efficient and your home EnergySmart!


The Power of the Sun for Everyone through Community Solar!

By | News & Noteworthy

The Power of the Sun for Everyone
through Community Solar!

Leo Wiegman, Director of Solar Programs,
Sustainable Westchester

What if everyone could have access
to renewable solar energy without installing solar?

Powering our lives through renewable solar energy has become more accessible and affordable than ever before.

In fact, the number of solar installations on homes and businesses is growing rapidly, and by the end of 2021, more than 8,300 homes and businesses in Westchester County will have installed solar systems, chiefly on roofs.
Just over 330,000 households call Westchester County home. Even if rooftop solar on homes in Westchester increased tenfold to 83,000 solar systems, that still leaves over three quarters of our households without direct access to the benefits of solar energy.

Between 2014 and 2018, twenty-two municipalities hosted Sustainable Westchester’s Solarize Westchester campaigns. Over 600 homeowners were able to install solar systems through this Solarize effort, which has been a great success.

However, during these Solarize campaigns, we found that almost 8 out of every 10 homeowners who inquired about solar on their homes were not able to proceed.

A household may not be able to install its own solar panels for many good reasons: The home may have too much shade from trees; The roof’s orientation may not be sufficiently south-facing; The roof size may not be adequately rectangular or large enough; The household may be a condo, co-op or rental unit without access to the roof; Or the household may not wish to borrow needed funds.
But did you know that these same homeowners can still reap the benefits of energy-efficient solar power? That’s where Community Solar comes in!

What is Community Solar?

In a nutshell, Community Solar is a statewide program that allows households to subscribe to their allocated share of a larger solar project (a.k.a. “solar farm”) located elsewhere within their utility’s service territory. Each subscriber earns solar credits each month that saves them money and supports renewable energy efforts.

The solar farm could be on the roof of a large warehouse or office building. It could be on canopies in a large parking lot of a nonprofit. It could be mounted on the ground at an old landfill. In fact, in Westchester County today, we already have these three examples of community solar projects from Yonkers to Ossining and Mount Kisco.

In each case, the site owner-such as a commercial property owner, nonprofit organization, or local government-enters into a lease agreement for that space with a solar project developer. The developer agrees to pay the site owner a lease amount to develop, install and maintain the solar farm at the developer’s expense. After the solar farm gets permission to operate from the local utility, the energy production is divided up among all the participating households or small businesses.

Who benefits?

First, the utility benefits from avoiding the production of that energy itself and the site owner is now earning a lease payment for a roof or other area that was not earning revenue before. Second, the solar developer is getting subscribers who want to benefit from solar and the subscriber benefits from a monthly savings on each bill from the solar credits that their share of the farm has earned. In the end, all parties receive some form of benefit from the development of Community Solar.

Access and equity for all!

Community Solar opens up access to the benefits of solar energy to every household that pays an electric bill. Customers who enroll in Community Solar will see monthly savings for twenty years or longer. With no cost to join or cancel and no solar installation on the subscriber’s property, Community Solar removes the barriers for households who rent or live in multi-family buildings.

How do solar credits work?

New York has put in place strong new policies to decarbonize the energy sector. In fact, New York has mandated that each bill for customers participating in a Community Solar project must produce a savings of at least five percent for the net credits (a.k.a. “solar credits). Some Community Solar projects have been able to offer up to ten percent savings for the solar credits.

Let’s follow the dollars! On a typical monthly electric bill, you get a bill from the utility and pay it. You may be using an energy supply company for the supply of electricity. If so, that supply amount is shown on the bill and added onto the utility’s delivery charges for a total amount.

When you subscribe to Community Solar, the solar farm reports to the utility how many kilowatt-hours of electricity your share produced that month. The utility multiplies that energy amount by each month’s energy rate, which yields a dollar value for those solar kilowatt-hours (that it received from the solar farm grid injection).

Bottom line, your subscription produces a savings on your monthly energy bills for twenty years or longer. And, your subscription to a Community Solar project can be cancelled at any time, without a fee, and costs nothing to join.

New York has also mandated that every utility must do the billing for community solar projects just as they have been doing for energy service companies for many years. Once our local utilities implement this consolidated (or “net credit billing”) in 2021, your solar farm credits and savings will show up on the same monthly electric bill you always get. And you pay for it however you currently pay your electric bill.

RFI Issued to CDG Developers for Sustainable Westchester’s New Opt-Out CDG Program

By | News & Noteworthy

Sustainable Westchester welcomes responses to the RFI from CDG developers seeking customer acquisition channels for community solar projects or other CDG assets in Con Edison and NYSEG territories. The Opt Out CDG program will allow for enrollment at scale and enhance project economics, allowing developers to become eligible for NYSERDA’s newly proposed NY-Sun Inclusive Community Solar Adder. Interested CDG developers can learn more HERE.

Westchester Power and Transparent Energy Make History Via First-Ever Use of Online Auction Technology by a CCA!

By | News & Noteworthy

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The Westchester Power program was able to add an additional layer of competition and transparency to the bidding process with this renewal process. This unprecedented strategy helped us achieve the best possible results for our participating municipalities and their residents. As the articles show, we are on our way to increasing our environmental impact! Take a look at who’s talking:

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