Meeting Minutes: February 2018

Date: February 24, 2018

Officers in Attendance: President Marguerite Mickens-Mosley, Treasurer Anika Halota, and Secretary Michelle V. Rowley.

Also in attendance: Mr. Zachary Hare, Solar Energy World Representative, Candidates Mr. Matt Dernoga, Ms. Candace Hollingsworth, Mr. Ashanti F. Martinez, Ms. Deni Tavares and Constituency Outreach Officer for Councilor Tavares, Mr. Michael Harris.
Members in Attendance: Approximately 16

I. Welcome/Gathering

The meeting was called to order at 11:16 a.m. with President Mickens-Mosley presiding.
Michael Harris apologized for his absence from a previous meeting,meeting; this was a result of a recurring knee injury. The Association welcomed him and extended our wishes for continued recovery.

II. Announcements and Officers’ Reports:

  • Treasurer Halota provided an update on the Association’s account, which presently stands at $1632.00. The Association gave an end of year gift of appreciation to the church ($200.00).
  • The minutes from December 2017 were read and approved.
  • The agenda was then re-ordered to first facilitate the candidates who were present followed by Mr. Hare’s presentation.

III. Candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates (District 22), Mr. Ashanti Martinez
Candidate for the Maryland Hose of Delegates (District 21), Mr. Matt Dernoga
Candidate for County Council (District 2) Ms. Candace Hollingsworth, Mayor of Hyattsville
Candidate for County Council (District 2) Ms. Deni Tavares, Incumbent

Mr. Martinez realized that we are not in his district only after extending a request for time at the Association’s meeting. He used his time to outline why he was running for office, these reasons included the urgent need for new leadership from folks who share their community’s values and the need for new, younger energy.

Matt Dernoga then spoke to the Association. In his presentationpresentation, he centered his commitment to environmental issues and highlighted previous work done on this issue – as a student at the University of Maryland (UMD) he was a member of UMD for Clean Energy, advocating for clean energy solutions, and he worked to establish an Office of Sustainability at UMD.

At the county level (District 1) he has worked to pass thirty different pieces of legislation – some of the highlights include code enforcement, discontinuance of polystyrene, increasing minimum wage, addressing food insecurity through improved access to locally grown food.

He noted that he was running on a platform that was pro-environment and pro-labor. He was committed to maintaining A+ constituent services, and that it is possible to get hold of him within a day or two at the most.

He has continued to walk the communities and signaled his willingness to walk with the Saturday CSTCA Walking Group. His community walking sessions have highlighted concerns about litter, a desire to protect trees and environment and he identified himself as an ally on these issues.

Member Ted Hull asked the candidate about his willingness to sponsor a bottle deposit bill.

  •  Candidate Dernoga noted that there was momentum for such a bill in 2015, this died off and it would be important to think about how to re-energize the process. Momentum, he noted, is challenged by the local departments that benefit from this recycling, there is concern that such a bill might siphon resources away from those agencies.

Member Andrea Kenner asked the candidate to speak to improved options for the removal of hazard waste.

  • Candidate Dernoga noted that on an issue like that he would be willing to work with the council member to advocate for safe removal of hazardous waste because those issues are addressed at local county meetings.

Member Cynthia Bauer asked the candidate to talk about the communication strategies he uses to communicate with constituents.

  •  Candidate Dernoga observed that his preference was for door to doordoor-to-door contact and that this was going to be a feature of his time in office, not just in election years. He has found that there is no better way to find out what the issues than to walk the streets. He has also used social media and has worked to use a range of differentof different platforms.

Member Mickens Mosley (M) asked the candidate to speak to his commitment to the youth, particularly the need to have more young people involved in the political process.

  • Candidate Dernoga noted that the critical hours for young people are 3-6 p.m. when they get out of school. He noted that he intends to make a push in terms of going into schools and classroom and talking about how he got involved in politics. He spoke to the importance of working with young people of color who might serve as role models. He noted that he has been pro-active in terms of inviting young people into core campaign meetings so that they can see how the process works.

Candidate Dernoga was followed by candidate for Council, Candace Hollingsworth.

Candidate Hollingsworth, current Mayor of Hyattsville, provided an overview of her background. She is originally from Memphis, Tennessee, she moved to Hyattsville MD, and her children are in the local public school system. She is driven by the desire to build a community that her children, when adults, will see as a place that they would like to come back home to – a place with professional opportunities, cultural assets, and diversity. Will work collaboratively toward change.

She highlighted the importance of customer service – and that county administrators needed to take the lead on this. She emphasized her aversion for poor public service and committed to leading by example on this.

Member Michelle Rowley asked the candidate to speak to the young people caught in the Deferred Action Child Arrival (DACA) debate as well as deportation threats to members of the Salvadoran community.

Candidate Hollingsworth observed that responses to these issues were indicative of a community’s moral compass. She noted that in her capacity as Mayor of Hyattsville, one of her very first meetings was with CASA de Maryland. She has worked collaboratively to gauge interest in extending community based votes to no non-citizens, to strengthen community policing so that individuals can report crimes without fear of retribution, and to establish an Immigration Services Working Group – tasked with coordinating resources so that various departments can have greater synergy with each other. This Working Group she noted was subsequently supported with funds from the Vera Justice Center and support from Councilor Taveras.

She also noted that Hyattsville has signed on to the amicus brief emerging out of San Francisco. This brief aims to push back against removal of resources for cities that have been identified as “sanctuary cities.”

Incumbent Councilor Deni Taveras then spoke briefly. She pointed to her very active presence in the community for the last four years. She pointed to the tangible examples of her commitments, these included key pieces of legislation and initiatives such as “Take Pride in our Community Initiative,” her work to curb willful evictions, attention to trash collection, curbing the presence of prostitution brothels and beer houses. She also pointed to her work on to reduce residential overcrowding in rentals, as well as her support for immigration services and language access. Councilor Tavares also noted that she has been very aggressive in asking for funds for the District and has brought 1millon dollars into community and has invested 50 million into repaving roadways.

She concluded by reiterating her support toward the protection of the Cool Spring Forest. She encouraged the membership to reach out to her with our concerns.

IV. Zachary Hare, Solar Energy

Mr. Hare began his presentation by thanking the Association for the invitation and noting that inthat in light of increasing environment threats – chemical leaks, fracking, oil spills, climate change – there are significant advantages to going green.

He noted that in terms reducing greenhouse gases solar is second only to wind. In one month, Mr. Hare noted that a 1 kWh solar system prevents 170 lbs. of coal from being burned and 300 lbs. of CO2 from being released.

He also noted that 35 million Americans have made switch to solar power and that solar costs are now down given that demand has increased.

He also noted that the recent administrative 30% tariff that was placed on solar related imports will not affect his company’s pricing.

Solar, he informed, is installed every 2.5 minutes in the United States. It is reliable, given that the satellites are powered by solar, it is easily adaptable, there is no need to have someone come out to do maintenance, they monitor the system from afar if something goes wrong.

Member Andrea Kenner asked Mr. Hare to speak to the structural integrity needed, e.g. if the roof secures a leak what happens. Mr. Hare noted that the company offers a roof penetration warranty and that they do not install on roofs that do not have the right integrity. If the owner wishes to change their roof at a later date, the company will come out to remove and replace the system, nominal charge for the service. He also noted that Solar Energy emerged out of a merger between a solar company and a roofing company. If a new roof is needed prior to installation, they are able to replace the roof at cost.

He further explained that the installation method used by Solar Energy avoids damage, when bolts are used they can sometimes explode – his company uses a “rail system.” They do not offer systems that track the sun and HOAs he noted can restrict the mode of installation but legislatively, they cannot refuse homeowners who wish to install a system.

Member Carol Hurwitch asked about shade coverage, how can a potential consumer know how much of the roof will need to be covered in relation to shade and the orientation of the room. Mr. Hare noted that his company works with software that simulates shade given pitch and weather history for your zip code. They come out and do sun-eye readings before designing a system. He advised folks that it is always better to have the company come out rather than assume that your home was subject to too much shade for solar. He advised against purchasing a solar back-up battery system at this point, noting that the technology was still very much in its infancy.

Member Hurwitch asked about the company’s willingness to work with community co-ops, if there was a critical mass in order to facilitate a discount. He noted that the company does offer this possibility but the number has to be fairly substantial to be cost effective, they recently won a bid in Montgomery County, but this was a grouping of 150 people.

Federal and State Subsidies
Mr. Hare then noted that there are a number of incentives to help offset the cost of installation. These include:

  •  Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit of 30% of qualified expenses, which rolls over if not all claimed in a given year e.g. a 30,000 system would yield a 9,000 Fed. Tax credit. This is locked in at 30% through 2019.

State and Local Solar Incentives

  • $1000 Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) state grant for systems that are smaller than 20 kilowatts (kW), is located at your primary residence, and that your installer has the standard certification.
  • For residents in PG County there is a $5000 property tax grant for purchasing or a $2000 grant for leasing.

He also noted that it is possible to sell your SRECs solar credits (energy generated but not used)– he did however alert the Association to the fact that SREC credits are more beneficial in DC than in Maryland. In Maryland 1SREC = $8.00, in DC it is worth $400.00 (supply/demand – greater buy in for solar in Maryland)

Member Andrea Kenner raised the question of aesthetics– the panels just aren’t attractive, what might that do to the value of your home.

Mr. Hare noted that the newer panels are flat black and tend to be a bit more attractive. He noted that a Berkeley study found that the installation added value to the home and he also noted that it is factored into Fannie Mae appraisal of homes.

Finally, he summarized by observing that when questioning whether solar is too expensive it is important to remember the incentives, the fact that electricity rates have increased by 4.5% over the last decade, that electricity grids are old, some unsafe and the maintenance of this old system is being passed on to consumers.

He noted that his company offers a very competitive option to purchase $0 incentive financing, 18month delay on repayment to give you time to acquire your tax credit. They also offer financing at 2.99% for 12 years

For those wishing to lease this is possible with the option to purchase at a later point in the agreement. The systems come with a 20-year warranty. And for those interested in leasing, you may not be eligible for the larger incentives but you do get  $2000.00 credit from the county.

He also noted that in terms of home re-sale, it is more likely that your home will be purchased by a younger person, and generationally there is even a greater interest in solar driven homes.

V. COPS Report

President Mickens Mosley conveyed the report on behalf of Cpl. T. We were reminded that if we see something suspicious, we should call 911, if an object, do not pick it up as this tampers with evidence.

VI. New Business

Candidates’ Forum
President Mickens Mosley announced that the Association was working to host a debate for candidates running for Delegate and Council. She noted that the goal was to have it scheduled before the primaries. Invitations will be extended to surrounding associations.

The Executive Board is presently exploring a location for the event.

Member Hermitt Mosley (H) suggested the possibility of a membership meeting in the coming month (March) to help facilitate the process.

President Mickens Mosley noted that the Executive Board would consider a special meeting if planning does not align with Association’s existing schedule of meetings.

Member Carol Hurwitch volunteered to help with the organization of the debate

Clean Up/Green Up

President Mickens Mosley solicited support for the community’s clean-up day. Members who turned out in 2017 were only able to complete Cool Spring Road. Point persons for this upcoming activity are Members Kim Crews and Cynthia Bauer.

Member Hurwitch thanked the invited speakers, and reminded the membership that Tom Dernoga, father of Matt Dernoga, wrote the legal brief that helped the membership to save the Cool Spring Forest.

Motion to adjourn 1:15

Next meeting will be held on April 28, 2018.

CSTCA February Minutes 2018