In May 2013, Mayor William Hallenbeck announced, with considerable fanfare, that the City of Hudson was going to save money and help the environment by switching to 1oo percent locally produced wind energy, purchased from Viridian. "Today, we embark on the future of Hudson," said the mayor at a press conference, "saving taxpayers' hard-earned dollars whenever we're able to, while doing something right for the environment and our state's economy." Hudson, he declared, would be the only municipality in New York to be exclusively powered by wind energy.
In February 2014, the mayor announced, once again at a press conference, that in the first five months with Viridian as its energy supplier the City had saved $26,030, saving in only five months 63 percent of what the City was projected to save in the first year. If the rate of saving continued, the mayor said, the City would save $62,472 in the first year.
In April 2014, the mayor made a unilateral decision to switch from all wind power to a combination of wind power and solar power--the solar power also to be purchased through Viridian. At that time, the mayor spoke of installing solar panels on the Central Fire Station, on City Hall, and on the new police and court building being planned. (Almost a year later, none of these things has happened.) At that time, too, he made assurances that the City remained "on track to meet its savings goal of $40,000 for the year." (The annual saving of $62,472, predicted in February, had apparently been abandoned.)
Then in September 2014, it was revealed that the City's energy bill for the prior year was $113,782 more than the previous year--an increase of 33 percent. It was also revealed that, far from being "exclusively powered by wind energy" or by some combination of wind and solar, only some of the City buildings were involved. The Department of Public Works and the Police Department were getting their energy from Viridian, but the Youth Department and the Fire Department continued to buy energy from National Grid. It's not clear where the power to City Hall was coming from.
There was much consternation over whether increased usage or higher rates accounted for the increased cost to the City in 2014, but the mayor defended his action. He was quoted in the Register-Star as saying, "Regardless of if we save thousands or tens of thousands we did the right thing. We took a leadership role and led the county and Hudson Valley, and now there are Democratic and Republican-led towns and councils who followed Hudson's lead of price stability and green energy, all choosing Viridian."
Last week, in Connecticut, inspired by a civil lawsuit brought against Viridian in Maryland and more than a hundred complaints about the company in Connecticut, FoxCT News did an investigative report on Viridian Energy: "FoxCT Investigates: CT energy company accused of misleading customers."
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