Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Innovate!
The Town of Penfield continuously seeks ways to reduce energy consumption, increase use of renewable energy sources, reduce material going to landfills by reusing and recycling what we can, and adopting other sustainable practices when appropriate. For many decades, Town leadership has understood that decisions that benefit the environment also benefit taxpayers—the two go hand in hand.
To that end, in 2010, the Town Board established an Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee (EEAC) to identify, research, and advise leadership on all matters of sustainability. Areas of focus include reducing the Town’s consumption of energy and resources, use of renewables, recycling, following public policy and related opportunities, public education, and promoting environmental stewardship.
The Town is also focused on providing the Penfield community with opportunities to reduce, reuse, recycle, and manage resources in ways that help to lower residential and business expenses. This includes annual events for residential drop-off and recycling, secure document destruction/recycling, household hazardous waste collection; a community victory garden on town land; and free public electric vehicle charging stations and car shows.
Commitment to Sustainability
The Town Board is committed to working closely with the EEAC to identify and engage in practices to manage town government’s impact on the environment in ways that deliver value to taxpayers. This includes reducing energy use, increasing use of renewables, participation in state and federal programs, and adding sustainability practices to public policy including Town Code and the 2020 Comprehensive Plan Update.
Sustainability in action
Early days: Street light innovation
The Town of Penfield has a history of making innovative choices that reduce use of resources, waste, and improve efficiencies. In 1999, while other municipalities continued to lease streetlight fixtures from RG&E, the Town decided to purchase the fixtures directly from RG&E and replace inefficient mercury vapor lights with more efficient high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures. Over the years, the flexibility gained from this decision has saved taxpayers many thousands of dollars in reduced equipment lease charges and energy costs, and put Penfield ahead of the curve for using more sustainable light fixtures.
In 2018, the Town began swapping HPS fixtures with even more efficient LED lights to further reduce consumption and costs. The switch to LED is being done gradually over a few budget cycles and in neighborhoods as replacement fixtures are needed. A complete transition to LED lights is anticipated in the early 2020s.
First public Electric Vehicle charging stations in Monroe County
In 2012, the Town of Penfield installed a public Electric Vehicle charging station at the Penfield Community Center–this was the first public EV station in Monroe County. That was soon followed by an EV charging station at the Penfield Town Hall and another in Harris Whalen Park. Since 2012, the Town has hosted annual Electric Vehicle car shows for enthusiasts and interested residents.
Powering up with renewable solar
The Town’s first venture into solar power was a small self-sufficient sewer pump station that went online in 2012. Next, a solar-powered crosswalk signal was installed on Scribner Road at Scribner Road elementary school in 2013. That was followed in March 2014 with a solar panel array on the roof of the Harris Whalen Lodge that offsets nearly half of that facility’s annual electric use. This installation has the ability to expand in the future.
Most significantly, in 2019, the town completed the installation of a solar photovoltaic array at its DPW complex at 1607 Jackson Road. The system consists of 3,648 solar modules (each 345 watts) driving 38 inverters; it is expected to generate 1.2 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy annually—the equivalent of powering 120 households for one year. The solar array was commissioned by RG&E on March 29, 2019.
The energy produced by this array is directly connected to RG&E’s utility grid and is expected to offset approximately 75 percent of the Town of Penfield’s overall electrical usage at its main facilities (town hall, community center, DPW).
LIVE Solar Field Data:
1625 Jackson Road (Department of Public Works Complex)