Saratoga Springs Moves Aggressively To Meet Paris Climate Accord Goals 

The Paris Climate Accord Goals called for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2010 levels by 25% by 2025.  Unbeknownst to most of us,  Saratoga Springs has been moving aggressively toward meeting those goals by reducingthe city’s use of fossil fuels.


In the fall of 2012,  Larry Toole, who at the time was on the board of Sustainable Saratoga, with the help of his son Cameron, wrote a proposal to create a solar grid on the land that had been used for the city’s landfill.  Mr. Toole did a presentation to the City Council and Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan volunteered to work with Sustainable to make the project a reality.  


Commissioner Madigan created a committee to assist her in crafting a Request for Proposals (RFP) and in moving the project forward.  The committee was made up of Larry Toole (Sustainable), Lynn Bachner (Finance Department Deputy),  Christine Gillmett-Brown (Director of Finance), Mark Torpey (New York State Energy Redevelopment Authority), Shauna Sutton (Deputy Mayor), Tim Wales (City Engineer), and Matt McCabe (past Commissioner of Finance).  

The project was a huge success.  Today 40% of the city government’s electricity needs are provided for by solar power from the grid at the landfill.


Currently, at Commissioner Madigan’s initiative and with full Council support one of the key elements in the city’s reconstruction of city hall will be retrofitting the structure to reduce its carbon footprint through structural enhancements and through the establishment of a heating and cooling system that uses state of the art technology. The city will also be moving ahead with changing the city’s street lights to LEDs.

It is important to note that the city’s automobile/truck fleet still generates a significant amount of carbon emissions, but with Mayor Kelly’s recent announcement of the settlement of the legal disputes involving the Geyser Road Trail, the city is taking another significant step forward in encouraging people living in and visiting the city to walk and bike rather than drive where possible.


At last Tuesday’s City Council on April 16th Commissioner Madigan and Tina Carton, Administrator of Parks, Open Lands, Historic Preservation, and Sustainability announced the establishment of a “Sustainability Hub” soon to be up on the city’s website. This site is meant to both highlight the city’s achievements in combating carbon emissions but also to make the public aware of programs available to the city’s citizens to assist in this critical goal.


While there is always more to be done, Saratogians should be encouraged by the steps city officials, particularly Commissioner Madigan and Mayor Kelly, are taking to move our corner of the world toward a more sustainable future.

This is a link to Commissioner Madigan and Administrator Carton’s presentation on the new “Sustainability Hub”.  


Here is a press release on the presentation.


City of Saratoga Springs to Unveil Sustainability Hub during April 16th City Council Meeting

Saratoga Springs, NY — At the regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Tuesday April 16th, Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan and Administrator of Parks, Open Lands, Historic Preservation, and Sustainability Tina Carton will deliver a presentation highlighting all of the sustainability progress made by the City to date, and unveil a new “Sustainability Hub” on the City website.


The initiatives that will be highlighted include the Spa Solar Park, the City-owned electric vehicle (“EV”) charging stations, alternative transportation options, and legislation that fosters green, energy-efficient programs within the City. Commissioner Madigan will also discuss sustainability-focused future efforts aimed to benefit both the City budget and Saratoga Springs residents, as well as the City’s collaboration with Sustainable Saratoga, a local not-for-profit that has played a key role in the City’s sustainability efforts.


Madigan stated, “The City Council has taken a variety of steps in recent years to make Saratoga Springs a model community in terms of sustainability and resiliency, and projects like the Spa Solar Park have shown that these types of projects are not only good for the environment but also can positively impact the City’s bottom line. The new Sustainability Hub will highlight all the good work done by the City, and provide a one-stop shop for residents interested in learning about everything from where EV charging stations are located to how they might qualify for an energy-efficient property improvement loan through the Energize NY PACE Finance program.”

The City Council meeting held on April 16, 2019 will begin at 7:00 PM at the Recreation Center (15 Vanderbilt Ave.) and will also be streamed live on the City website.

A copy of this release can be found on this City website:


Michele Madigan

Commissioner of Finance

City of Saratoga Springs

474 Broadway

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

5 thoughts on “Saratoga Springs Moves Aggressively To Meet Paris Climate Accord Goals ”

  1. Hey kids!

    “Today 40% of the city government’s electricity needs are provided for by solar power from the grid at the landfill.”

    Just a few questions come to mind…

    What is the city’s municipal electrical demand consist of; exactly?
    Street lights? City buildings, et al?

    If the city changes the USA-made sodium bulbs to the new China-made LEDs, will the LEDs be color corrected? Will 5G wireless be incorporated into the new street lights?

    Has ANYBODY researched the effects on trees and wildlife regarding the anxiety promoting, high-pulse, LED technology? Is this all absolutely necessary??
    Maybe…keep the old technology and use it more effectively?

    Some of us think everything is getting all too extreme.
    And, it is highly doubtful the city is saving some 40% on that Solar Farm on Telly Tubby Land.
    Those panels are frosted over all winter. And, we won’t even get into the obvious problem of airplane pollution (lines in the sky) and cloud cover 1/2 the year.

    Climate change?
    George Carlin said it all in his Save the Planet diatribe.

    One last thingy from the peanut gallery:
    Why do we need so much light, anyway?

    The Saratoga Racecourse installed new super bright LED floodlight panels that are squarely aimed at drivers on Union Avenue. And they are on all night.

    Why is that?
    Some say this new technology is getting annoying.

    Just sayin.’



    1. To clarify, we are not saving 40 some percent on our utility expenses, solar still cost money to build, operate, and maintain, what we can say is 40 percent of our energy is now offset with renewable sun energy. However, an added bonus is that we have seen an annual savings in the first year of approximately $68,000 which is great for a city our size. We can do a lot with annual savings. The savings would indeed be better (and we would see an increase from the 40 percent offset) if we lived in a spring / fall like environment year round as they are the optimum solar generating months, but alas we do not. Still this solar project has and will continue to be successful for the city.

      Michele Madigan, Commissioner of Finance.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Excellent explanation, Commissioner.
        Glad we’re on the same page.
        (Reality speaking… lol).

        Thank you.
        (You have my vote!)


        Liked by 1 person

  2. Commissioner Madigan deserves credit for her efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. The solar array is a great use of the landfill property that will save our City money while providing a working example of local environmentally responsible energy production. Other departments in City government can do more to protect our environment. As City owned motor vehicles are replaced with new models, electrics and hybrids should be purchased where possible. Such vehicles are well suited for the local driving needs of many of our City employees.

    I have been driving hybrid vehicles since 2005. They are reliable and incredibly fuel efficient

    Chris Mathiesen

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nice work, JK, but you overlooked the contributions Commissioner of Public Works Skip Scirocco and his department are also making to these great efforts. Commissioner Scirocco and his department have been managing those city hall renovations and have been involved in installing EV charging stations on city owned parking lots. So nice to see a real team effort in city hall!!

    Here’s a link to an article in the Saratogian covering all this. A nice way to celebrate Earth Day!


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