Challenge to Reduce Statewide Emissions, Combat Climate Change, Drive Economic Growth

May 18, 2021

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today launched the third round of the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Carbon Challenge, making $15 million available as part of Round XI of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative announcedLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. last week. The C&I Carbon Challenge will help to reduce carbon emissions at commercial and industrial businesses and institutions, combat climate change, and drive economic growth across the state. Today’s announcement supports Governor Cuomo’s ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030.

Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “Launching the third round of the C&I Carbon Challenge demonstrates Governor Cuomo’s steadfast commitment to investing in private-public partnerships that help to make some of New York’s largest energy users cleaner and more efficient. This funding will allow more commercial and industrial business owners across the state to adopt clean energy measures to reduce the on-site emissions and carbon footprint of their buildings while moving us closer to the achievement of the Governor’s nation-leading climate and clean energy goals.”

The C&I Carbon Challenge is a competitive program that provides funding to large commercial and industrial energy users to implement various cost-effective clean energy projects that reduce carbon emissions. The third round of funding is being made available to eligible businesses and institutions including but not limited to manufacturers, colleges, universities, health care facilities, and office building owners in New York State. Project proposals may employ a combination of energy or manufacturing process efficiency strategies, carbon capture technology, renewable generation or energy storage.

Funding is being provided under two categories:

  • Category A: $10 million for proposals that incorporate key solutions of interest, including beneficial electrification and reducing emissions related to manufacturing processes, to lower the applicant’s carbon footprint.
  • Category B: $5 million for proposals that employ energy efficiency, on-site clean energy generation, or any other greenhouse gas reducing solution not identified in Category A.

The Challenge will provide awards ranging from $500,000 to $5 million to partially offset clean energy project costs for the very largest commercial and industrial energy users in the state, with an aggregate 12-month average demand of 3-megawatts or greater. The deadline to apply for the third round through the State's Consolidated Funding ApplicationLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. is July 30, 2021 at 4:00 p.m.

Competition winners are selected based on their plans for project implementation, institutional commitment to sustainability, overall level of greenhouse gas emissions reduced, and their potential to beneficially impact disadvantaged communities. The challenge is expected to reduce statewide carbon emissions by approximately 650,000 metric tons, the equivalent of removing 140,000 cars off the road. NYSERDA expects to announce the third-round awards in early 2022.

Past Carbon Challenge awardees, including second round winners, have consisted of colleges and universities, office buildings and businesses in a variety of manufacturing sectors. Collectively, they have committed to reducing over 1.5 million metric tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking 325,000 cars off the road.

Commercial and industrial buildings account for 33 percent of the energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. NYSERDA's initiatives and programs can benefit most businesses and organizations across the State, but large energy consumers have unique needs and solutions when it comes to increasing efficiency and lowering emissions. Building on New York State's support for private sector solutions to lower the cost of clean energy, the C&I Carbon Challenge gives large energy consumers the flexibility to tap into their in-house expertise to reduce their carbon footprint and control their energy costs. Furthermore, this program is well aligned with the recommendations produced by the Energy Intensive and Trade Exposed Industries (EITE) Advisory Panel and submitted to the Climate Action Council last month, a proactive step to support early action to decarbonize by large energy users.

Funding is available through the State's 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund.

MACNY President & CEO Randy Wolken said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us in many ways. New York is ready to help companies continue to get back on track with certain programs like the Carbon Challenge. NYSERDA’s Carbon Challenge is designed to support large energy consumers by providing them with the flexibility for strategic decarbonization projects that could help lower energy costs and create green energy jobs. This program also has the potential to further opportunities for a more inclusive workforce.”

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "Building back better in New York State means continuing to fight climate change and investing in clean energy. NYSERDA’s $15 million challenge through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative will help commercial and industrial energy users find and implement projects to cut carbon emissions, supporting economic growth and encouraging greater sustainability across the state."

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “I applaud Governor Cuomo and NYSERDA for these innovative incentives which are helping to reduce our State’s carbon footprint and build a cleaner New York. The C&I Carbon Challenge is a creative way to encourage and assist businesses in making real changes that will have a meaningful impact on our environment and communities for decades to come.”

Senator Kevin Parker, Chair, Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, said, " I applaud Governor Cuomo and NYSERA for continuing to create incentives and initiatives that address climate change. As we work to reach our ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, these types of investments are important to ensure we are helping businesses take on clean energy solutions that reduce their emissions.”

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-emission 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, supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2019, 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 ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 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 of 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 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..

About the Consolidated Funding Application

As part of Governor Cuomo's efforts to improve the State's economic development model, the Consolidated Funding Application was created to streamline and expedite the grant application process. The CFA process marks a fundamental shift in the way state resources are allocated, ensuring less bureaucracy and greater efficiency to fulfill local economic development needs. The CFA serves as the single-entry point for access to economic development funding, ensuring applicants no longer have to slowly navigate multiple agencies and sources without any mechanism for coordination. Now, economic development projects use the CFA as a support mechanism to access multiple state funding sources through one application, making the process quicker, easier, and more productive. Learn more about the CFA hereLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..