NYSERDA Announces Ulster County is First in New York State to Earn Clean Energy Community Designation

County is recognized for its commitment to reduce energy consumption, cut costs and drive clean energy in its communities

November 15, 2016

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced that Ulster County is the first county in New York State to be designated a Clean Energy Community, recognizing its leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs and driving clean energy in its communities.

Announced by Governor Cuomo in August, the $16 million Clean Energy Communities initiative supports local government leaders across the State to implement energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable development projects in their communities. Clean Energy Communities advances the Governor's Reforming the Energy (REV) strategy by demonstrating the importance of communities in helping New York reach its Clean Energy Standard mandate requiring 50 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable energy resources by 2030.

Ulster County received the designation for completing four of 10 high-impact clean energy actions identified by NYSERDA as part of the Clean Energy Communities initiative. In addition, the designation gives Ulster County an opportunity to apply for up to $250,000 toward additional clean energy projects, with no local cost share.

John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA, said, "Congratulations to Ulster County on this important accomplishment and for its leadership in driving local clean energy actions to reduce costs and protect the environment. Communities are central to ensuring a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy future for all New Yorkers, as the State advances Governor Cuomo's REV strategy."

Ulster County completed the following high-impact clean energy actions:

  • Established an Energize NY Finance Program that enables long-term, affordable Property Assessed Clean Energy financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at commercial buildings and not-for-profits.
  • Installed electric vehicle charging stations at nine sites and uses plug-in hybrid vehicles in the county fleet.
  • Earned Climate Smart Communities "Bronze" Certification through the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for developing a comprehensive program to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the environment.
  • Adopted benchmarking policies to track and report energy use in municipal buildings.

The County's commitment to using alternative fuel vehicles was recently noted by the White House. The County has passed a Green Fleet Policy requiring five percent of the fleet to be alternative fuel vehicles by 2020. Officials expect to meet that goal in 2017, three years ahead of the target.

"We are honored to be recognized by NYSERDA for being the first county in New York State to earn the clean energy community designation," said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. "Whether it is being the only county in New York State to be net carbon neutral, installing the largest number of municipal electric vehicle charging stations in upstate, or planning a utility scale solar installation on the site of a former landfill, we are committed to being the most environmentally responsible county in the state for a reason: We believe clean air and clean water is not a partisan issue, it is about our present and our obligation to future generations."

"Across the state, New York communities are already experiencing the effects of climate change, ranging from extreme storms like Sandy and Irene to rising sea levels. Thanks to efforts like Clean Energy Communities, New York is out in front, building resiliency to our changing climate county by county and town by town, helping local governments, business owners, and residents tap into renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Ulster County is a model for others to follow, demonstrating what is possible with committed leadership."

Cities, counties, towns and villages that complete at least four of 10 high-impact clean energy actions are designated Clean Energy Communities and are eligible to apply for funding of up to $250,000 with no local cost share with the option of receiving up to 25 percent paid in advance to support additional clean energy projects. At least two of the four actions must have been completed after August 1, 2016. NYSERDA is accepting applications for funding on a rolling basis through September 30, 2019 or until funds are exhausted, whichever comes first. Funds are being provided through the Clean Energy Fund and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Clean Energy Community Coordinators are also available at no charge to support cash- or resource-strapped communities to develop and prioritize clean energy goals; access easy-to-use resources such as guidance documents and case studies; and take advantage of available funding and technical assistance opportunities.

For more information on Clean Energy Communities, visit www.nyserda.ny.gov/cec. Local government officials or employees can find contact information for their respective coordinator here for assistance navigating the program.

About Clean Energy Fund

The 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund is a core component of New York State's Reforming the Energy Vision strategy to achieve a clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers. It is designed to deliver on New York State's commitment to reduce ratepayer collections, drive economic development, and accelerate the use of clean energy and energy innovation. It includes a minimum of $234 million in funding over the first three years to support clean energy opportunities specifically to benefit low- to moderate-income communities throughout the State. The CEF also supports the aggressive Clean Energy Standard, which requires that 50 percent of the State's electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

About the Regional Greenhouse Gas initiative (RGGI)

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is the nation's first program to use an innovative market-based mechanism to cap and cost-effectively reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause the climate to change, and New York State took a leadership role in adopting regulations that lowered the emissions cap. Emissions from power plants in New York State are down approximately 45 percent since 2005, and auction proceeds from sale of the RGGI allowances have reduced electricity expenditures and created thousands of green energy sector jobs.

About Reforming the Energy Vision

Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York's economy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency, in part through the recent adoption of New York's Clean Energy Standard which requires that 50% of the state's electricity needs be generated from renewable energy sources by 2030. Already, REV has driven 600% growth in the statewide solar market, enabled over 105,000 low-income households to permanently cut their energy bills with energy efficiency, and created thousands of jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and other clean tech sectors. REV is ensuring New York State reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80% by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor's $5.3 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, please visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow us at @Rev4NY.

About NYSERDA

NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit nyserda.ny.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.

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