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Cuomo: More than $17 million to help communities drive high-impact clean energy actions, combat climate change

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Tue, Jan 26th 2021 04:45 pm

New Clean Energy Communities leadership round helps reduce energy costs and offers additional support for projects located in disadvantaged communities

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday 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 its carbon footprint, recognizes their leadership through a point rewards system, provides access to additional grant opportunities for actions taken, and supports Cuomo's climate agenda, which includes a goal to direct 40% 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," 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," added Lt. Gov. 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% 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 of NYSERDA, said, "Gov. 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 interested in participating in the program can apply for grants through NYSERDA's online portal on a rolling basis, until Dec. 31, 2025, or until funds are exhausted. Grants available include:

1. Clean Energy Communities Grant of $5,000 for communities that complete at least four NYSERDA-identified high-impact actions.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 here.

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, visit NYSERDA's website.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Directed by Gov. 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."

Cuomo's climate agenda calls 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% renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economywide carbon neutrality.

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. To learn more about NYSERDA's programs and funding opportunities, visit nyserda.ny.gov.

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