NYSERDA Announces City of Ithaca Earns the Clean Energy Community Designation

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

October 30, 2017

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced that the City of Ithaca has been designated a Clean Energy Community, recognizing its leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs and driving clean energy in its communities. This announcement complements Southern Tier Soaring, the regional economic blueprint aimed at attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation.

Announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in August 2016, 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 Vision (REV) strategy by demonstrating the importance of local governments and 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.

The City of Ithaca 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 the City of Ithaca an opportunity to apply for up to $100,000 toward additional clean energy projects, with no local cost share. There are currently more than 110 designated Clean Energy Communities across the State.

Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA, said, “Congratulations to the City of Ithaca on this significant accomplishment and helping to reduce energy costs and create a cleaner environment for residents. Communities are critical to Governor Cuomo’s ambitious energy strategy to ensure a cleaner, more resilient energy future for all New Yorkers.”

The City of Ithaca completed the following high-impact clean energy actions:

  • Adopted a Benchmarking policy to track and report the energy use of the City’s municipal buildings.
  • Participated in a community-based Solarize campaign to reduce solar project costs through joint purchasing
  • 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 two electric vehicle charging ports at the Seneca Street Parking Garage.

"The City of Ithaca is excited to receive this CEC designation," said Mayor Svante Myrick. "The diversity of high-impact actions that we completed reflects the broad-based approach we are taking to meet our goal of reducing GHG emissions 80% by 2050. Tracking energy use and enabling financing for efficiency improvements, providing infrastructure for electric vehicles, and supporting community initiatives like Solar Tompkins are all essential pieces to meeting our goals."

The City is also currently leading the Ithaca Green Building Policy project, which is studying energy standards for new construction, and opportunities for the City and Town of Ithaca to incentivize or mandate those standards. The City is also leading a county-wide consortium to upgrade thousands of streetlights to LED technology.

Additional clean energy action items communities can take to achieve designation include:

  • Performing energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to municipal buildings.
  • Converting streetlights to energy efficient LED technology.
  • Implementing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) so residents can gain greater choice and control over energy use a group.
  • Earning Climate Smart Communities Certification through the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for developing a comprehensive program to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the environment.
  • Completing energy code enforcement training on best practices in energy code enforcement for code compliance officers and other municipal officers.
  • Streamlining local approval processes for solar projects through adoption of the New York State Unified Solar Permit.

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. Those with fewer than 40,000 residents are eligible to apply for up to $100,000. 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 in completing the actions.

Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring

Today's announcement complements “Southern Tier Soaring,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. This initiative is focused on innovation, vigorous business growth and to creating an environment aimed at attracting the best and brightest talent to the region. The State has already invested more than $3.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan which includes investing in key industries such as advanced manufacturing, food and agriculture and in efforts that support the greater Binghamton innovation ecosystem. Today, unemployment across the state is near the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning as a destination in which to grow and invest. The $500 million “Southern Tier Soaring” Upstate Revitalization Initiative announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015 will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

About the 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 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 generating 50 percent of the state's electricity needs 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, 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 www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow us at @Rev4NY.

Media Inquiries