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County Joins Sustainable Westchester Consortium

Westchester County has entered into a partnership with a consortium of local governments that facilitates green initiatives including solarizing campaigns. County Executive Rob Astorino made the announcement Tuesday at a residence in Peekskill.

Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced that the county is partnering with Mount Kisco-based Sustainable Westchester.

“I think 25 years from now or so when they look back and it’s very common that people have solar panels all over the place, we will say, back here in 2017, the leadership then, the communities and the people, really took the right steps to do that,” Astorino says.

The partnership will allow Sustainable Westchester to tap into various county departments. Executive Director Bob Elliott says this will let Sustainable Westchester expand its scope and capacity.

“Sustainable Westchester’s energy programs, as has been pointed out by the county executive, not only save energy and save money, but they are an economic driver,” Elliott says. “One of the fastest-growing sectors in our economy is the renewable energy sector, and Westchester is doing its part.”

Astorino says that through programs like Solarize Westchester and the county’s sales tax exemption for solar panels, installations have increased.

“Now the number of residential homes and small businesses with solar panel installations has skyrocketed from around 100 in 2010 to about 1,200 installations per year today,” says Astorino.

Nina Orville is principal of Abundant Efficiency, which administers Sustainable Westchester’s Solarize campaign.

“To date, close to 440 homeowners and commercial property owners have contracted to install over 4 megawatts of solar through Solarize Westchester,” says Orville. “And those installations are going to produce power that is worth about $30 million over the life of those installations. So they have a significant economic impact.”

Astorino and the others spoke about solar and other green initiatives in the Pentas backyard in Peekskill, where 27 solar panels line the roof from a January installation. June Penta says her house is powered 100 percent by solar and the decision to go solar was powered not only by potential cost savings.

“Just trying to go green, that’s all, just trying to do something better for the country,” says June Penta.

Richard Penta takes credit for convincing June to make the energy conversion.

“I was the one,” Richard Penta says.

“I wanted to do it many years ago, but we, we had a different roof then so once we got a normal roof we were able to do it,” June Penta says.

“Right,” says Richard Penta.

“But he talked me into it,” June Penta says.

Again, Abundant Efficiency’s Orville.

“Property owners who install solar, even with no money down, can lock in an effective cost of electricity of up to 70 percent less than current utility rates,” Orville says. “And they can benefit from those low rates for many years to come.”

Democrat Mike Kaplowitz is chairman of the county Board of Legislators.

“We recognize that good environmental policy can also be good economic policy and that the savings to the homeowners is an incentive and the reason to do it with the savings to the environment individually and cumulatively really makes a big difference for us here in Westchester County,” Kaplowitz says.

Republican Francis Corcoran sits on the county Board of Legislators and his district includes Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge and part of Somers.

“The costs have come down. People can now see the economic benefits to solarizing and other forms of alternative energy,” Corcoran says. “And, most importantly, it helps to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and other types of fossil fuels.”

Meanwhile, in the second round of the Solarize Westchester campaign, residents and small businesses in Peekskill, Greenburgh, Pound Ridge and Lewisboro have until June 5 to sign up for solar installations.

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