NYSERDA Announces More Than 300 Communities Have Earned Clean Energy Community Designation

More Than 1,700 Clean Energy Actions Completed by Communities Representing More Than 91 Percent of the State’s Population

May 26, 2020

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced more than 300 communities across the state have earned the Clean Energy Community designation, completing more than 1,700 total high-impact clean energy actions. The designation recognizes community leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs, and driving clean energy, all of which are advancing Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Green New Deal – the nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda putting New York on the path to a carbon-free power grid by 2040 and a carbon-neutral economy.

Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “Under his unwavering leadership, Governor Cuomo is empowering more local communities to join in the State’s efforts to reduce statewide emissions and combat climate change through programs like this. Congratulations to all the Clean Energy Communities across New York for taking on a leadership role with these significant actions to reduce their energy use and costs while helping to support New York’s nation-leading clean energy goals.”

Announced by Governor Cuomo in August 2016, the $16 million Clean Energy Communities initiative, administered by the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), supports local governments across the state by providing grants to eligible municipalities to implement energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable development projects in their communities.

Overall, more than 1,700 high-impact clean energy actions were completed by communities representing more than 91 percent of the state’s population in 61 counties and all 10 Economic Development Council regions. Some of the largest communities across New York State have been designated Clean Energy Communities, including the City of New York, Erie County and City of Rochester. View a map showing Clean Energy Communities, actions completed, and communities engaged in the Clean Energy Communities Initiative.

More than 570 communities are participating in the Clean Energy Communities initiative and have completed at least one high-impact action. The following table highlights participation in each region of the state:

Region Designated Clean Energy Communities Participating Communities* Clean Energy Actions Completed
Capital District  40 55 189
Central New York  48 118 309
Finger Lakes 33 75 208
Long Island 27 40 131
Mid-Hudson 42 71 250
Mohawk Valley 24 48 130
New York City 1 1 5
North Country 20 30 105
Southern Tier 37 78 215 
Western New York 37 57 180
Total 309  577 1,721 

*Completed at least one Clean Energy Action Item

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York State’s Climate Smart Communities program (CSC) works in partnership with NYSERDA’s CEC program to help local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to our changing climate. At a time when the federal government is rolling back critical environmental programs and protections, we congratulate NYSERDA on reaching this milestone and working with communities to combat climate change. In New York State, 45 percent of the population lives in a registered CSC and 21 percent of residents are now living in certified CSCs. Including New York City’s program, more than 60 percent of the state’s residents live in communities taking action to help protect the environment for future generations.”

Under the Clean Energy Communities program, cities, counties, towns and villages that completed at least four of 10 high-impact clean energy actions are designated as Clean Energy Communities and were eligible to apply for funding of up to $250,000 to finance additional clean energy projects. Areas with fewer than 40,000 residents were eligible to apply for up to $100,000 in funding. Grants, which have historically been provided through the Clean Energy Fund and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, are fully exhausted at this time. NYSERDA expects to release a new update to the Clean Energy Communities Program in the coming months to provide communities new opportunities for grants and recognition while driving the next level of impact.

Key highlights of clean energy actions communities completed across the state include:

  • 100 cities, towns and villages across New York have converted approximately 290,000 streetlights to light-emitting diode (LED);
  • Over 630 electric vehicles deployed as part of clean municipal fleets;
  • Nearly 1,000 electric vehicle charging ports installed;
  • 930 code officers and other municipal officials completed energy code enforcement training;
  • 342 communities adopted the New York State Unified Solar Permit.

Please visit NYSERDA’s website for the list of 10 High Impact Actions local governments can take to earn a Clean Energy Community designation.

DEC's Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program was launched on Earth Day in 2009, and is an interagency initiative that helps local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. It is jointly sponsored by the following seven New York State agencies: Department of Environmental Conservation; NYSERDA; Department of Public Service; Department of State; Department of Transportation; Department of Health, and the New York Power Authority. The program offers grants, rebates for electric vehicles, and free technical assistance to interested communities.

On April 16, 2020, New York State celebrated the village of West Winfield in Herkimer County as the 300th municipality in the state to become a registered Climate Smart Community. The village’s resolution states that “the effects of climate change will endanger our infrastructure, economy and livelihoods; harm our farms, orchards, and ecological communities, including native fish and wildlife populations; spread invasive species and exotic diseases; reduce drinking water supplies and recreational opportunities; and pose health threats to our citizens.” Through this pledge, the village plans to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate,” preparing its community for a more resilient future.

Local governments across New York State have mobilized in response to the current public health crisis to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect their residents. NYSERDA remains open for business to support communities and local businesses in assessing and benefitting from clean energy actions and combatting the effects of climate change when they are able to do so. Clean Energy Community Coordinators are available at no charge to help communities 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. Local government officials or employees can find contact information for their respective coordinator for assistance in completing the actions.

For more information on Clean Energy Communities, please visit NYSERDA’s website.

New York State's Green New Deal

Governor Cuomo's Green New Deal is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, putting the state on a path to being entirely carbon-neutral across all sectors of the economy and establishing a goal to achieve a zero-carbon emissions electricity sector by 2040, faster than any other state. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including a $2.9 billion investment in 46 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector, a commitment to develop nearly 1,700 megawatts of offshore wind by 2024, and 1,700 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2012.

The recently passed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act mandates the Green New Deal's nation-leading clean energy targets: nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035, six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025, and three gigawatts of energy storage by 2030, while calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy. The CLCPA also directs New York State agencies and authorities to collaborate with stakeholders to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 and aim to invest 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency program resources to benefit disadvantaged communities.

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 TwitterLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., FacebookLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., YouTubeLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., or InstagramLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

Media Inquiries