June 27, 2019

“Sustainable Sue” discusses Keeping the Lights On: The What, Where, and How of Consumer Energy in New York


This past Tuesday at our third event of The Climate Report discussion series, we invited Susanne DesRoches, the Deputy Director of Infrastructure and Energy at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency and Office of Sustainability, to lead the climate change discussion. Quite the title, right? Well Susanne, also known by her colleagues as “Sustainable Sue,” certainly lives up to her title. She led an incredibly informative discussion on climate change and consumer energy in New York City. 

Attendees admiring the archival materials selected for our June event.

Some background: With the publication of The Climate Report, Melville House is committed to facilitating a network of environmental events and reading groups in bookstores, libraries, and living rooms across the country to connect concerned citizens with educators, scientists, politicians and policy makers in order to broaden our collective environmental consciousness. We have been working with libraries and bookstores across the country to create educational climate events and partnered with The New York Public Library’s Bryant Park location to host a monthly climate discussion series. Following the discussion, attendees can view selections from the environmental records of the Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Division, which are hand-selected by the NYPL’s fabulous librarian, Meredith Mann, to correspond to our discussion that day.

Our first event was on Environmental Activism in New York City, Past and Present, with discussion leader Todd Fernandez from 350NYC. Our second event was on Infrastructure, Investment, and the Environment, with discussion leader Patrick Houston from New York Communities for Change. That brings us back to our third event with Susanne DesRoches.

We were especially excited to have Susanne join us for this series because she was one of the authors for the transportation chapter of The Climate Report. She worked for close to 7 years as the Chief of Resilience and Sustainability for The Port Authority of NY and NJ before she went on to the Mayor’s office. 

Our discussion Tuesday night was based on how New Yorkers get their energy and new plans for NYC that are more focused on how climate might affect that. We spent some time learning about OneNYC, New York City’s plan to build a stronger, more resilient and sustainable city, we talked about new requirements for buildings in NYC, and Susanne provided us with information on why power sources like hydropower might be a better clean energy solution in New York City than solar power. (This New York Times article provides a nice overview for those who couldn’t make it to the event or those who need a recap.) 

One brilliant question from an attendee about hydropower was, “won’t hydropower impact the fish?” Well, equally brilliant reader, we invite you to learn the answer to this question and other water-related questions at our next event on Tuesday, July 16, at 6:00 PM for What’s in Your Faucet? Climate Change and New York City’s Water Supply with Riverkeeper’s president Paul Gallay. 

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Christina Cerio is the Manager of Direct Sales & Special Projects at Melville House.