Memorandums of Understanding Will Allow State to Explore Feasibility of Hosting Build-Ready Renewable Energy Projects on Underutilized Sites in the Southern Tier and Western New York

June 13, 2024

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced two agreements on underutilized sites for potential renewable energy development. Under these memorandums of understanding (MOU), NYSERDA, through its Build-Ready Program, will work closely with Tompkins County in the Southern Tier and Niagara County in Western New York to explore the feasibility of developing renewable energy projects on otherwise underutilized sites, including a landfill and unused land surrounding an active airport. Today’s announcement represents progress under the State’s Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act and advances New York’s goal for 70% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “Our Build-Ready Program is part of New York’s comprehensive approach to accelerating the development of large-scale renewable energy projects and will help bring forward unique projects that stimulate local and regional economic growth. Today’s agreements are an important step in understanding the practicality of transitioning these sites into revenue-generating renewable energy facilities, and we look forward to working with these local partners to help them capitalize on the significant economic and environmental benefits these projects will bring to their communities.”

Ithaca Tompkins International Airport (Tompkins County)

The first MOU was executed by NYSERDA with Tompkins County in relation to the county-owned Ithaca Tompkins International Airport, located in Lansing, NY. The 67-acre area northeast of the airport runways identified by the airport and county are being considered for hosting a solar and battery energy storage system. This potential project will support the Ithaca Tompkins International Airport’s commitment to sustainability and renewable energy, as part of Ithaca’s Green New Deal plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

Witmer Road Landfill (Niagara County)

The second MOU was executed by NYSERDA with Niagara County, the County of Niagara Refuse Trust, and the Town of Wheatfield in relation to the Witmer Road Landfill located in Wheatfield, NY. The 60-acre landfill, which was operational from 1969 to 1976, is now capped and closed and is being considered for hosting a solar project. The potential project will support Niagara County and the Niagara County Refuse Disposal District with its goal of developing solar on landfills and brownfields.

Entering into these MOUs will allow NYSERDA’s Build-Ready Program to conduct further due diligence and community engagement to evaluate the prospects of multiple large-scale renewable energy projects. If there is local acceptance, strong project feasibility, and agreement to move forward between NYSERDA and the municipalities, NYSERDA will initiate development activities including detailed engineering, interconnection, and permitting.

Senator Kevin Parker said, “Today's agreements between NYSERDA and local agencies will allow exploration of these underutilized sites for potential renewable energy development in the Southern Tier and Western New York that are a vital steps toward achieving our Climate Act goal of 70% renewable electricity by 2030. This initiative not only promotes sustainable energy but also revitalizes our communities, paving the way for a greener, more prosperous future for all New Yorkers."

Chair of Tompkins County Legislature Dan Kelin said, “Tompkins County is glad to participate in this project to assess the feasibility of solar and battery systems at our Airport. Additional renewable energy production and storage in Tompkins County will not only help us to reach our community’s goals, but also support New York State’s vision of a future less reliant on fossil fuels. Thank you to NYSERDA and Tompkins County staff for their efforts to be forward-thinking and their commitment to a greener future.”

Alliance for Clean Energy New York Executive Director Marguerite Wells said, "Private renewable energy developers are ready and willing to invest in New York, and NYSERDA's Build-Ready Program removes some of the toughest barriers projects can face. By identifying these sites as candidates for development, NYSERDA has made it possible for crucially needed projects to be planned, built, and on the grid in less time."

Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito said, “To meet New York’s ambitious Climate Act goal of 70% of the state’s energy coming from renewable energy sources by 2030, we need to look and build outside of the box. Utilizing existing under-utilized sites for renewable energy is tapping into a plentiful resource that has been otherwise overlooked. Exploring the feasibility of these projects at the Ithaca Tompkins International Airport and at the Witmer Road Landfill benefits those communities and sets a blueprint for a path forward for the entire state to reap the benefits of solar energy production, battery storage and more renewable energy infrastructure projects. The Build-Ready program is an exciting and innovative way to bolster renewable energy production while helping meet the state’s Climate Act goals.”

The Build-Ready Program is currently advancing a pipeline of sites across New York State, having screened over 17,000 locations and progressing dozens of sites through further assessment and development. Local community members, elected officials, private companies, environmental justice communities, or other interested parties are encouraged to nominate potential Build-Ready sites, which will be considered on a rolling basis through the Program’s Site Nomination Portal Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. More information about the Program’s progress and NYSERDA’s plans for actively developing an expanded pipeline of potential sites on both public and private lands across New York State can be found on NYSERDA’s website.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State's climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40%, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is advancing a suite of efforts – including the New York Cap-and-Invest program (NYCI) and other complementary policies – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050 from 1990 levels. New York is also on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70% renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $28 billion in 61 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the State, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, nearly $3 billion for clean transportation initiatives and over $2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 170,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector as of 2022 and over 3,000% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in the State be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York’s climate action with more than 400 registered and more than 130 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the State to help target air pollution and combat climate change.


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 Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. or follow us on Twitter Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., Facebook Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., YouTube Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., or Instagram Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..