Governor Cuomo Launches Grant Program for Projects to Support Cleaner, Greener Communities in Southern Tier

$30 Million in First Round of Grants to Implement Projects for Smart Growth, Improved Energy Efficiency, Green Jobs and Greenhouse Gas Reduction

June 27, 2013

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $30 million in the first round of funding for the implementation of regional sustainability plans, including the plan recently endorsed by the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council. The plans were developed under the governor’s $100 million Cleaner, Greener Communities program, a major statewide initiative to invest in smart growth planning and sustainability.

“This first round of funding will put each region’s sustainability plans to action,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through the Cleaner, Greener Communities program, regions across the state have developed plans from the bottom up, building on their assets and identifying needs, to create green jobs for New Yorkers while investing in projects that improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution. These plans will help accelerate our clean energy economy and improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.”

The Southern Tier Cleaner, Greener Communities Sustainability Plan provides the region’s vision, goals and objectives for a sustainable future, identifies a number of regional assets and makes recommendations for building on those assets. It focuses on addressing the future energy needs of the region through conservation, efficiency, renewable technologies and smart development; through new transportation and housing options; and by protecting natural systems and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A consortium of dozens of municipal leaders and organizations completed the plan, which estimates that, if recommended actions are fully implemented, the Southern Tier can achieve a 35 percent reduction in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions within 20 years.

Southern Tier plan statistics:

  • Manufacturing remains an important segment of the Southern Tier economy, employing more than 38,000 people in 2011, or 11 percent of the Region’s workforce. Despite a 25 percent decline in manufacturing jobs over the last ten years, the Southern Tier continues to rank highest among New York State’s ten regions in proportion of jobs in manufacturing.
  • The 2.6 million acres of forested land, 95 percent of which is in private ownership, support a strong forest products industry, including providing wood as the primary heating fuel to an estimated 19,000 households (7 percent of the regional total compared to less than 2 percent statewide). By one estimate, these lands sequester the equivalent of 70 percent of all GHG emissions from the region.
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy have a strong foothold in the region. There are 12 existing Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, with the largest project by far the 30 megawatt CHP plant at Cornell University, representing about 75 percent of the region’s existing CHP capacity. Three utility-scale wind farms in Steuben County account for the vast majority of renewable energy generated, with 460,000 megawatt hours of annual production.

Southern Tier plan highlights:

  • Energy conservation and renewable energy recommendation: Reduce energy consumption in buildings by 40 percent in the residential and commercial sectors and 30 percent in the industrial sector. Eleven priority actions are identified to improve energy efficiency and transition to renewable and lower GHG-emitting sources of energy. Together these actions will make the region more resilient in the face of expected energy cost increases and reduce GHG emissions in the residential and commercial sectors by 39 percent.
  • Economic development recommendation: Reinvest in our cities, villages and hamlets as anchors of our regional economy. The nine actions identified in the plan will help attract residents and development by providing a variety of housing options, services and transportation alternatives. Over time this could increase the percentage of residents living in cities and villages from 38 percent to 45 percent, thus reducing overall energy demand while responding to the needs of changing demographics.
  • Farm economy recommendation: Support the region’s agricultural economy and offer the opportunity to increase total cash receipts from farm sales from $338 million to $497 million. Building on the REDC’s strategy, additional opportunities for value-added products, biomass and other farm-based renewable energy, food production for local markets, and culinary and agri-tourism can all contribute to this potential.

The complete Southern Tier sustainability plan is available at

In accordance with the Cleaner, Greener Communities program objectives, the plan addresses the following subject areas: energy, transportation, land use and livable communities, waste management, water management, economic development and agriculture/forestry. In addition, each regional planning consortium conducted a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions study that calculated current GHG emissions and projected GHG reductions that would result from implementing the sustainability plan.

“Through Governor Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities program, the Southern Tier will significantly improve the economic development and environmental well-being of its communities. By integrating sustainable growth strategies with regional economic development, this program can create more jobs, greater opportunity and a better quality of life for the region’s residents,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO, NYSERDA.

A wide range of stakeholders participated in development of the Southern Tier sustainability plan, including 111 participants at public meetings, 139 stakeholders in topical focus groups and 611 web visits.

The coalition was comprised of Tompkins County, the Southern Tier East Regional Planning and Development Board, and the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board. Tompkins County led the planning process for the region.

The Regional Economic Development Council initiative (REDC) is a key component of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to spur economic development and job creation across New York State. In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 REDCs to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The Councils are public-private partnerships composed of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. As a result of the first two rounds of competitive awards, the State is supporting more than 1,450 regionally significant economic development and community revitalization projects. For more information on the Regional Councils, please visit regionalcouncils.ny.govLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

Funding for the Cleaner, Greener Communities program is through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. For more information on program, including instructions on submitting grant proposals through the Consolidated Funding Application, please visit

For further information on the Southern Tier sustainability growth planning process, please contact Ed Marx, Tompkins County Planning Commissioner,, Marcia Weber, Executive Director of the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board,, or Erik Miller, Executive Director of the Southern Tier East Regional Planning and Development Board,

“Governor Cuomo's Cleaner, Greener Communities program connects economic development and smart growth - both of which are critical to the long-term sustainability of the Southern Tier's economy and our environment,” said Southern Tier REDC Co-chairs Harvey Stenger, President of Binghamton University and Tom Tranter, President & CEO of Corning Enterprises. “In the same vision of the Regional Councils, the program takes a bottom-up, regional approach that has enabled the Southern Tier consortium to develop a strong platform for sustainable and smart growth initiatives based on a common vision, goals, and strategies. As we continue to implement the Southern Tier REDC's strategic plan, we are confident that the sustainability plan will serve as a valuable and important guide to regional economic development and will help the region reduce its carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency and improve the quality of life for its residents.”

Ed Marx, Commissioner of Planning, Tompkins County, said, “The Cleaner, Greener Southern Tier Plan outlines a positive vision for a renewable energy future, a revitalized economy and an improved quality of life in the Southern Tier. Change won't happen overnight, but the plan lays out a series of practical actions that can be undertaken through collaboration among partners from the government, business, not-for-profit and higher education sectors throughout the region and create new economic opportunities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Erik Miller, Director, Southern Tier East Regional Planning Development Board, said, “The Cleaner, Greener Southern Tier Sustainability Plan sets the path for multicounty sustainable economic development, affordable living, natural resource protection and land use projects within our eight-county region. A diverse group of stakeholders diligently prepared this plan, ensuring future implementation would not only be effective at reducing greenhouse gasses but be relevant to our region specifically.”

Marcia D. Weber, Executive Director, Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board, said, “The local expertise, coupled with the work of our consultants, enabled us to develop an informative, forward-looking and very readable document that will guide our region’s energy planning and sustainable development.”

Elaine Jardine, Tioga County Planning Director, said, “Since the two years that Governor Cuomo announced the Cleaner, Greener Initiative in his State of the State address, there has been a multi-regional effort to take a hard look at diversification of energy choices, energy efficiencies and greenhouse gas reductions in New York State as a whole. Moving forward, the Southern Tier is now better positioned to implement programs and projects in keeping with our local needs.”

Donna Jones, Chenango County Planning Director, said, “As the Regional Cleaner, Greener Sustainability plans become finalized across our state, their importance hinges on local involvement and project implementation. Appropriate energy sourcing, opportunity and efficiencies are all key.”