Governor Cuomo Announces More Than $17 Million to Help Communities Drive High Impact Clean Energy Actions and Combat Climate Change
New Clean Energy Communities Leadership Round Helps Reduce Energy Costs and Offers Additional Support for Projects Located in Disadvantaged Communities
January 26, 2021
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $17 million in funding and expanded high-impact actions under the state's Clean Energy Communities program to help drive stronger community leadership to reduce harmful carbon emissions, expand assistance for disadvantaged areas and foster further investments in the growing clean energy economy. The program's new Leadership Round increases the options a community can choose from to lower their carbon footprint, recognizes their leadership through a point rewards system, provides access to additional grant opportunities for actions taken and supports Governor Cuomo's nation-leading climate agenda, which includes a goal to direct 40 percent of the benefits from clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.
"Supporting bold climate action and equitable access to clean energy is possible as long as we help ensure the right resources are in place," Governor Cuomo said. "Our partners in local government play a key role in helping New York fight climate change and embrace clean energy and the availability of this funding give them the opportunity to lead by example by setting the bar high. Not only does this program play a crucial role in helping us achieve the goals of our groundbreaking climate agenda, but it also ensures that disadvantaged communities have the opportunity they need to fight climate change and utilize clean energy as well."
"We all need to do our part to combat climate change," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "As part of our nation-leading climate agenda, this investment will empower local communities to lower their carbon footprint and expand assistance to communities most impacted by climate change. As we look to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are committed to creating a cleaner, greener future.
Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the Clean Energy Communities Leadership Round will help more cities, counties, towns and villages join the more than 300 local governments that have already earned the Clean Energy Community designation. Since the program launched in 2016, more than 600 communities, representing more than 91 percent of the state's population, in 61 counties, and all 10 Economic Development Council regions, have completed 1,700 high-impact actions through the program. All communities, including those on Long Island, can participate in the new Clean Energy Communities Leadership Round without local cost share and regardless of previous participation in the program. In this round, $1.7 million is designated for communities on Long Island.
Four high-impact clean energy actions must be completed to earn a Clean Energy Communities designation. This round builds on the previous round of the program with new opportunities for communities to save energy and reduce costs. This includes adopting Community Campaigns for qualifying clean energy initiatives such as electric vehicles, community solar, clean heating and cooling, energy efficiency or demand response, among others. Those participating in a Community Campaign must identify partners, volunteers, local officials and formal roles and responsibilities needed to achieve a clean energy initiative. Another opportunity a community may target is adopting the NYStretch Energy Code, a cost-effective statewide model building code to help local jurisdictions meet their energy and climate goals while accelerating energy cost savings, reducing building emissions, improving resiliency, and lowering utility bills. Additional funding is included for disadvantaged communities through the Leadership Round in support of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal of increasing access to clean energy and sustainable infrastructure to all end-users.
Doreen M. Harris, Acting President and CEO, NYSERDA said, "Governor Cuomo's unparalleled climate leadership is helping more local communities than ever before, expanding the tools and resources available so they can embrace lower energy costs and advance cleaner, more affordable energy choices. This program, and the additional incentives offered, especially for disadvantaged communities, empowers local governments to take an even greater role in driving action on behalf of their residents."
Local governments in New York State interested in participating in the program can apply for grants through NYSERDA's online portal on a rolling basis, until December 31, 2025 or until funds are exhausted. Grants available include:
- Clean Energy Communities Grant of $5,000 for communities that complete at least four NYSERDA-identified high-impact actions.
- Action grant of up to $50,000 for adopting the NYStretch Code and up to $60,000 for undertaking one or more clean energy Community Campaigns.
- Disadvantaged Communities that are awarded more than $20,000 for a clean energy project can qualify for an additional $10,000 to further the project.
- Point-based grants where communities earn points for each clean energy action completed. Upon crossing certain point thresholds, communities will become eligible for larger grant amounts.
The program also provides Clean Energy Community Coordinators at no charge to help communities develop and prioritize clean energy goals; assist with accessing easy-to-use resources, such as guidance documents and case studies; and help them leverage available funding and technical assistance opportunities. Local governments interested in working with a coordinator to develop their plan and complete the actions can find local contact information.
The Clean Energy Communities Program is funded through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the Clean Energy Fund (CEF). For more information on Clean Energy Communities, please visit NYSERDA's website.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Directed by Governor Cuomo, New York State is advancing nation-leading efforts to reduce climate change by working with state and local partners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from sources large and small. NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities program works in partnership with DEC's Climate Smart Communities program to help and celebrate local governments taking action to reduce emissions and adapt to our changing climate. I hope today's announcement inspires more communities across the state to join our efforts to reduce emissions and become climate leaders."
Senator Kevin Parker, Chair NYS Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee said: "As the State of New York continues to lead nationally in Clean Energy Reform it is important for us to have an aggressive plan for our more disadvantaged communities. I applaud Governor Cuomo and NYSERA for launching an initiative that will put these communities in a place where they can have access to grants and Clean Energy Community Coordinators to ensure they have the support they need to grow towards a clean energy future for their community."
Peter A. Baynes, Executive Director, New York State Conference of Mayors said, "Mayors from throughout New York support Governor Cuomo's efforts to fight climate change, particularly the Clean Energy Communities program. State-local partnerships such as the new Clean Energy Communities Leadership Round, which features no local cost share, are the key to a sustainable future for our cities and villages. NYCOM and our members look forward to continuing to work with the Governor to maximize the environmental and economic benefits of clean energy in New York."
Gerald K. Geist, Executive Director, Association of Towns said, "The Clean Energy Communities program is a great example of the state partnering with towns to address climate change, and the flexibility the program provides allows towns to make changes that work for their communities. We're proud of the hundreds of towns already participating in the program and are happy to hear about this additional funding. By working together, we can create a better future for all New Yorkers."
Stephen J. Acquario, Executive Director, New York State Association of Counties said, "Under NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities program, counties have completed hundreds of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make our communities more sustainable. This $17 million investment in a new Clean Energy Communities Leadership Round underscores Governor Cuomo's commitment to achieving the nation's most aggressive climate and clean energy agenda. We applaud the Governor for continuing to set a national example of how state and local governments can help to combat climate change and facilitate a just transition to a clean energy economy."
New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan
Governor Cuomo's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieving its mandated goal of a zero-emissions electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including over $4 billion invested in 91 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 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, and 1,800 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while meeting a goal to deliver 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities, and advancing progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs in end-use energy savings.
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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