Thursday, February 16, 2017

Geppetto Would Be Upset

He’s at it again. Mr Feiner has decided to increase his range beyond the coveted “GB (e-mail) List” and launch yet another snail mail blitz on behalf of a infant business. No, this not about a business that addresses things for kids. Rather, this is another politically correct “green” startup that Mr Feiner has decided to promote with taxpayer money. You will recall he has done this before with other companies. Just because someone says it’s green, doesn’t necessarily make it so. Mr Feiner always seems ready to commit our tax dollars without consequence or validation. This time the company he’s promoting is Solarize Westchester.

He did the same thing a short time ago with Sustainable Westchester, a startup energy company that was begun by a group of attorneys experimenting with Greenburgh’s residents to perfect their energy “company” to later be rolled out throughout the country. Mr Feiner had singularly decided without taxpayer input, to enter ALL RESIDENTS into an Energy Savings Consortium Organization (ESCO) called Sustainable Westchester. 

This was a three-year contract with no guarantee of savings from day one through day one-thousand and ninety-five. They were originally promising to save energy money for taxpayers’ electric and gas services. Once the Town adopted their plan, the gas portion mysteriously disappeared and was not included in the overall package. When pressed, Mr Feiner ignored the questions because if you don’t answer, he knows people will stop asking. Regardless, Mr Feiner did mailings, press releases, radio broadcasts and so claiming that participants would save from $400 to $600 dollars a year. After much scrutiny by many civic associations and Mr Ken Stahn of the Sprain Road Civic Association, it was determined that his claims were unrealistic.

When all of the calculations and math was completed, Mr Stahn declared an impasse. He was unable to see how any resident could possibly save $400 to $600 dollars given the current energy prices. In fact, he met several times with them to try to prove the claims by Mr Feiner. He could not. In fact, now that the Sustainable Westchester program has been underway for about a year now, we’ve been unable to validate those claims and have learned of only minimal savings upwards of about $30 (on the high side) having been seen by those residents he’s enrolled into the program without their approval! In fact, as we wrote this article, ABG learned that ConEd Solutions, the actual company contracted by Sustainable Westchester to provide and bill for the actual delivery of electricity, was sold to another energy company. That company claims they will honor Sustainable Westchester’s agreements. 

“Solarize Westchester has expressed interest in working with the Greenburgh Town Board screening potential solar companies – trying to come up with the most competitive pricing proposal and quality installation.” Translation from Feiner-speak into real-world English: We want a monopoly on selling and installing solar panels in the Town of Greenburgh and know if we enlist mostly Mr Feiner, but also include his Town Board, we will have an unencumbered bonanza and lock out any competition. It’s like Sustainable Westchester all over again. 

The letter that Mr Feiner mailed to residents says you might be able to save a few hundred dollars a month by placing solar panels on your roof. He then extols the benefits of one of the Town Board members’ savings, which he doesn’t quantify (nor ever will), and fails to mention there are panels on every roof surface of his home. He adds that there were no up front costs. Is that with this same company or a different one? Naturally, he doesn’t say. He also doesn’t touch on any permits that homeowners might need to pay for to do this work. He doesn’t mention any inspections that need to be done during and after the installations and he doesn’t mention how long it will take for the installation to return the investment to the homeowner. Finally, he also doesn’t mention if the panels are a purchase, lease or some other kind of financial arrangement with the homeowners. 

In the end, we are all for solar and other forms of energy savings and devices, both environmentally and financially. We just don’t think the Supervisor and his Town Board should be the “pitchmen” for a private company, no matter how laudable it may be. As Mr Feiner continues to use his office as a bully pulpit, many people may be lured into a false sense of security and ultimately get burned - such as senior citizens. This blatant salesmanship from Mr Feiner and his Board must end, as well as the lack of truth coming from his administration. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

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