Last Updated: 11/10/2014

NYSERDA Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is NYSERDA?
A: The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) was established by 1975 law as a public benefit corporation. NYSERDA funds research into energy supply and efficiency, as well as energy-related environmental issues, important to the well-being of New Yorkers. NYSERDA has been cited by the U.S. Department of Energy as being among the best government research organizations in North America, including others such as NASA.

Since late 1998, in cooperation with the NYS Public Service Commission, (PSC), NYSERDA has managed the New York Energy $mart program. Funded by a System Benefits Charge (SBC) on electric transmission, this program offers energy efficiency, research and development, low-income and environmental disclosure funding and education to assist electric consumers as the regulated electricity market moves to more open competition. NYSERDA also finances, through the sale of bonds, environmental and energy improvements for the State’s energy infrastructure.

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Q: Where does NYSERDA funding come from?
A: NYSERDA derives its basic research revenues from an assessment on the intrastate sales of New York State's investor-owned electric and gas utilities, federal grants, and voluntary annual contributions by the New York Power Authority and the Long Island Power Authority. Additional research dollars come from limited corporate funds.

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Q: What kind of projects does NYSERDA fund?
A: NYSERDA’s various programs (such as residential, commercial, transportation, environmental) outline broad energy and environmental challenges, and then publicly request proposals, from any private or institutional entity, to submit project plans addressing those issues. These are known as Program Opportunity Notices (PONs), and are posted year-round and cover the complete range of energy and related environmental topics, often focusing on a certain segment.

For instance, a PON might offer funding for the development of specific kind of fuel, such as ethanol, from New York farm-grown corn; or, development of wind or other alternative power system within the state; or, delivery of an energy efficiency services program to a certain type of residential electric customer.

NYSERDA also monitors energy supply, consumption and emissions in the State and provides periodic reviews of this data to government and the public.

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Q: Who receives NYSERDA funding?
A: Successful PON respondents are typically engineers, scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs and organizations with experience in providing qualified research and service delivery in the program topic. Funding for work, performed by contractors including individuals, small start-up companies, institutions and large corporations is awarded by contract and usually is provided in progressive stages. Contracts reflect expenses shared by the proposer, NYSERDA and perhaps others who may be involved. NYSERDA finances projects that can generally benefit the entire State.

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Q: How much funding is available?
A: Project funding is budgeted in advance by program topic and specified in each Program Opportunity Notice (PON). This program money is then allocated among the chosen projects. Costs are usually split between NYSERDA and the proposer. The program topic may have a budget of a million dollars, but this total is awarded among various successful project proposers. Contracts reflect shared costs and can amount to several hundred thousand dollars, but most are in the range of up to $200,000 total. Many proposals have third-party sponsorship where the proposer, NYSERDA and a contractor make an equal financial commitment (e.g. in thirds or various percentages reflecting participation).

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Q: How are proposals chosen for funding?
A: Respondents to Program Opportunity Notices (PONs) submit detailed proposals outlining their experience, concept, scope of work, detailed costs, and schedule for completion. All of these are weighed by a team of experts, comprised of professionals from inside and outside of NYSERDA. Their individual votes along with the judgment of the NYSERDA project manager are tallied and presented to NYSERDA senior management for approval. Then, a detailed contract for work is drawn and funding is released, usually in stages of completion agreed upon in the contract.

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Q: What is the New York Energy $mart program?
A: Since 1998, the New York Energy $mart program, administered by NYSERDA, offers a wide range of consumer education and assistance programs to bring energy efficiency to homes, businesses and industry.

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Q: What does NYSERDA offer for individual energy consumers?
A: One of the most popular programs is the retail promotion of ENERGY STAR® efficiency rated appliances and equipment. Also, the New York Energy $mart loan program of reduced-interest loans for energy efficient home equipment is available at participating financial institutions across the state. Some of this type of equipment (such as solar) may have State tax advantages offered with purchase and installation.

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Q: What does NYSERDA offer for a large electric customer?
A: For business, industry and institutional electric customers, NYSERDA offers sophisticated energy efficient construction advice, services and funding for new construction and rehabilitation improvements. Also, energy-saving/pollution-cutting industrial process development and installation funding is available.

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Q: What is NYSERDA’s environmental role?
A: From its original law, NYSERDA has been charged with improving New York’s environment, especially in relation to the emissions associated with the generation and consumption of energy. NYSERDA has monitored electric generation emissions, along with advancing non-polluting renewable sources of energy since its founding. Research and development of topics ranging from acid precipitation in the Adirondacks to fuel cells for home and transportation are among NYSERDA’s broad portfolio.

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Q: What is NYSERDA’s transportation role?
A: In addition to managing the development and purchase of clean-fuel buses for major New York cities under Governor Pataki’s Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act, NYSERDA has fostered the growth of high-tech alternative powered vehicles manufactured in New York State. Electric-powered cars, buses, U.S. Postal vehicles and even scooters and boats are being manufactured in New York through NYSERDA funding.

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Q: What is NYSERDA's Nuclear Materials Responsibility
A: NYSERDA legally evolved from a predecessor agency, the New York Atomic and Space Development Authority, which built and maintained properties associated with those endeavors. Currently, NYSERDA manages, on behalf of the State, the Western New York Nuclear Service Center at West Valley, Cattaraugus County, where the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), through a contractor is cleaning up the high-level nuclear wastes under the West Valley Demonstration Project. Also on that site, NYSERDA maintains and monitors the State’s low level radioactive waste storage facility. NYSERDA publishes annually the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Status Report.

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