The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) recently announced that Albany County is the first community in the Capital Region to be designated a Clean Energy Community, recognizing its leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs and driving clean energy development.
The announcement was made on May 5, 2017, by NYSERDA’s Vice President for Innovation and Strategy, Janet Joseph, at the Albany International Airport, highlighting the installation of six electric vehicle charging stations.
The $16 million Clean Energy Communities initiative, announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last year, supports local government leaders across the State in implementing energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable development projects in their communities. Clean Energy Communities advances the Governor’s Reforming the Energy (REV) strategy by demonstrating the importance of communities in helping New York reach its 2030 goals of getting 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent.
Albany County received the designation for completing four of 10 high-impact clean energy actions identified by NYSERDA as part of the Clean Energy Communities initiative. The designation gives the County an opportunity to apply for up to $250,000 – the maximum award under the program for larger communities of 40,000 or more residents – toward additional clean energy projects, with no local cost share. There are currently more than 35 communities designated as Clean Energy Communities across New York State.
“Congratulations to Albany County for their commitment to advancing Governor Cuomo’s energy strategy to achieve a clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers,” John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. “Our Clean Energy Communities are setting an example for the rest of the State as we work toward decarbonizing the transportation sector.”
Albany County achieved its CEC designation by completing the four high impact actions:
- Adopted benchmarking policies to track the energy use information for more than 40 County-owned or occupied buildings and will publish results annually
- Undertook the community-based Solarize campaign in Albany County to reduce solar projects costs through joint purchasing for 33 customers
- Established an Energize NY Finance Program that enables long-term, affordable Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at commercial buildings and not-for-profits
- Installed six electric vehicle charging stations at the Albany County Airport
“I am pleased that our work to be the greenest county in the state is paying off,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “The designation will enable the county to implement our green agenda and work with NYSERDA and Governor Andrew Cuomo to maximize our use of renewable energy sources and promote clean energy and transportation in our community.”
“I commend Albany County for setting the example when it comes to clean energy and transportation,” said Gil C. Quiniones, President and Chief Executive Officer, NYPA. “We at NYPA are pleased to partner with Albany County, and our partners at NYSERDA, on transportation initiatives, and other energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Together we are pushing forward toward Governor Cuomo’s energy vision for a more sustainable, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers.”
Additional action items localities can take to achieve Clean Energy Community designation include:
- Performing energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to municipal buildings
- Converting streetlights to efficient LED technology
- Earning Climate Smart Communities Certification by reducing the community’s impact on the environment
- Adopt the New York State Unified Solar Permit to streamline the approvals process for local solar projects
- Passing a local law to allow aggregation of residents to gain greater choice and control over energy use as a group (called Community Choice Aggregation)
- Provided energy code enforcement training to code officers
Albany County’s commitment to becoming more sustainable extends beyond its Clean Energy Community designation. A number of initiatives already undertaken include solar panel instillation at the Albany County Hockey facility, energy efficiency upgrades at the County Office Building, which resulted in an ENERGY STAR designation for the building, and one-third of the vehicles purchased by Albany County are hybrids. County officials plan to implement LED lighting upgrades this year at the County Office Building, Department of Social Services, Department of Health, Department of Mental Health and the Times Union Center garage.
Saving Fuel and The Environment
“Our electric vehicle charging stations have enabled our region’s growing number of electric vehicle owners to save on fuel and protect our fragile environment while parked at Albany International Airport,” said Rev. Kenneth Doyle, Chairman, Albany County Airport Authority. “We are grateful to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York Power Authority for their investment in the future of energy efficient electric vehicles.”
Smaller communities of 40,000 or fewer residents, including cities, counties, towns and villages, that complete at least four of 10 high-impact clean energy actions are eligible to apply for funding of up to $100,000 as designated Clean Energy Communities. As with large communities, there is no local cost share requirement. All of the designated communities, regardless of size, have the option of receiving up to 25 percent paid in advance to support additional clean energy projects.
Does Your Community Qualify?
In order to qualify for the Clean Energy Community initiative, at least two of the four clean energy 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 navigating the program.
About the Clean Energy Fund
The 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund (CEF) 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 accelerate the use of clean energy and energy innovation and drive economic development, while reducing ratepayer collections. It includes a focused effort to bring more clean energy opportunities and benefits to low- to moderate-income communities throughout the state. The CEF supports New York’s aggressive Clean Energy Standard requiring 50 percent of the state’s electricity to 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 (REV) 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 requiring 50 percent of the state’s electricity needs be generated 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, installation 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.