Governor Cuomo Announces Plan to Help New York Farmers Cut Energy Costs and Utilize Clean Energy

New Clean Energy Plan to Increase Energy Efficiency and Combat Carbon Emissions on Farms While Supporting New York’s Clean Energy Standard for Half of Electricity to Come from Renewables by 2030

June 05, 2017

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today the release of a comprehensive strategic plan to help farms across New York State cut energy costs and usage while accelerating the use of clean energy for more sustainable and profitable farming operations. The new state Clean Energy for Agriculture Task Force Strategic Plan will help New York achieve these clean energy goals and it supports the Governor’s ambitious Reforming the Energy Vision and Clean Energy Standard as the state also Moves closer to reducing 40 percent of its harmful greenhouse gas emissions based on 1990 levels by 2030.

Complementing today’s announcement was the creation of the Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering (GLASE) Consortium, a public-private consortium including RPI, Cornell University and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), to transform the way greenhouses operate.

Both the GLASE and Clean Energy for Agriculture Task Force Strategic Plan were unveiled today at an event held at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy. The Task Force is being led by NYSERDA and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets along with the New York State Department of Public Service, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, Empire State Development, Cornell University, New York State Farm Bureau, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Farm Credit East. Efforts undertaken by the GLASE Consortium will advance the goals of the Governor’s task force.

Livestock and agricultural activities at New York’s nearly 36,000 farms account for nearly three percent of the State’s greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture covers approximately 25 percent of land use in the State. Greater use of clean energy practices by farms can further reduce their greenhouse gas impacts and energy costs while building on the State’s efforts to promote environmentally sustainable practices.

Those efforts include several programs administered by the Department of Agriculture and Markets to minimize the environmental impact of New York farms, address water and soil quality and lower costs. Since 2011, approximately $2.5 million has been awarded through the Climate Resilient Farming grant program, to help farmers reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for and better manage impacts of climate change. In addition, the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program has dedicated nearly $80 million over the last five years to address water and soil quality on farms.

Greenhouses, which cover 720 acres in New York State, extend the growing season and protect crops and other plants from harsh weather conditions. They are particularly electricity-intensive compared to other types of buildings. GLASE aims to reduce their electricity use by 70 percent and increase crop yields by 2030.

Richard Kauffman, New York State Chairman of Energy and Finance said, “Agriculture is one of our largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions after energy production and transportation, and I’m pleased that under Governor Cuomo, we’re giving this important sector the attention it deserves to help us to mitigate the threat of climate change. New technologies and approaches under the Clean Energy for Agriculture Task Force Strategic Plan will make a big difference in reducing our carbon emissions while planning for a more sustainable and prosperous New York.”

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO John B. Rhodes said, “I want to thank the Clean Energy for Agriculture Task Force and all the organizations and agencies that helped to develop the strategic plan for reducing farmers’ energy costs. NYSERDA looks forward to working with our partners on the task force to implement the plan’s recommendations, to help make energy more affordable to farmers and support the Governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Clean Energy for Agriculture Task Force Strategic Plan provides the State with clear direction on how to further support New York’s farmers and their work to be even better stewards of the environment. The initiatives outlined in the plan will help us ensure that the agricultural sector, which is a major driver of New York’s economy, has greater access to the information and resources that will help us collectively reach the Governor’s Clean Energy Standard goals.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Few New Yorkers have a keener understanding of Mother Nature’s awesome power and the importance of protecting and preserving our natural resources than the state’s farmers and friends in the agricultural sector. The Clean Energy for Agriculture Task Force will bolster the role of New York’s farmers in the state’s nation-leading transition to renewable energy and our efforts to reduce methane emissions.”

Among the key initiatives of the strategic plan are:

  • Expand outreach to deliver clean energy information to the agricultural community
  • Expand financial, operational and legal resources to support expansion of community-based development of renewable resources
  • Identify, evaluate, and develop recommendations to derive greater monetary benefits from farm-based renewable energy
  • Increase transparency in renewable electricity pricing
  • Provide information and coaching for existing and prospective anaerobic digestion (AD) projects
  • Develop and energy-related farm management best practices guide

Cornell University Associate Dean Julie C. Suarez said, “Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences was pleased to have land-grant scientists providing technical expertise for the Clean Energy for Agriculture Task Force report. The College is committed to helping the farm community, through Governor Cuomo’s leadership, achieve the twin goals of improving environmental sustainability and economic profitability. The task force report is a critical first step towards meeting the state’s ambitious energy goals in the future for the important agricultural sector.”

New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, “New York Farm Bureau was proud to serve on the Clean Energy for Agriculture Task Force to find ways to reduce costs and accelerate the installation of renewable energy on farms across the state. Farms have an important role to play in expanding renewable energy generation in the State, providing community clean energy access and in enhancing grid resiliency in some of the State’s most remote locations. Implementing these recommendations will help meet the Governor’s energy and climate goals, improve farm sustainability and benefit all New Yorkers.”

The Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering Consortium will focus on upgrading greenhouse energy management systems, improving lighting equipment and supporting optimum indoor conditions for greenhouse crops, including carbon dioxide supplementation, ventilation and humidity.

Rensselaer’s Center for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA) Senior Research Scientist Dr. Tessa Popock said, “This forward-looking program has the potential to achieve two goals essential to a sustainable future: nutrient-rich foods and reduced carbon emissions," said Dr. Tessa Pocock, who directs research on plant photobiology at Rensselaer’s Center for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications. "When fully integrated with Cornell’s advanced greenhouse management technologies, the engineered LED lighting and sensing systems that we have pioneered have the potential to create a more sustainable and profitable greenhouse industry."

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 and requiring 50 percent of the state's electricity needs to be generated from renewable energy by 2030. Already, REV has driven a nearly 800 percent 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, installation and other clean-tech sectors. REV is ensuring New York State reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor's $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, please visit and follow us at @Rev4NY.

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