To Implement Clean Energy Programs
By Joanne Coons
NYSERDA’s (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) Clean Energy Communities Program (CEC) offers a local opportunity to engage in energy savings, cost savings, create jobs and improve the environment. The program is clear to follow, offers motivating technical assistance and a handsome prize awaits the community at the end of the path which also keeps you on goal.
Local governments across NY State can apply. They need to complete four out of 10 “high impact actions,” and along the way they will be assisted by a Regional Clean Energy Communities coordinator that works closely with their regions to offer guidance in the form of helping to prioritize clean energy goals, access templets for legislation and other documents and basically hold the community’s hand and promptly answer any questions they may have. Documentation is surprisingly fast and easy to fill out unlike other programs and grants.
The ten high impact action steps are:
- Benchmarking – Adopt a policy to report the energy use of buildings.
- Clean Energy Upgrades – Achieve 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.
- LED Street Lights – Convert streetlights to energy efficient LED technology.
- Clean Fleets – Install electric vehicle charging stations or deploy alternative fuel vehicles.
- Solarize – Undertake a local solarize campaign to increase the number of solar rooftops.
- Unified Solar Permit – Streamline the approvals process for solar.
- Energy Code Enforcement Training – Train compliance officers in energy code best practices.
- Climate Smart Communities Certification – Get certified by the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation.
- Community Choice Aggregation – Put energy supply choices in your community’s hands.
- Energize New York Finance – Offer energy upgrade financing to businesses and non-profits.
Step one is for the community to sign up online, at which time they will be put in touch with their friendly, knowledgeable and helpful CEC coordinator. NY State is divided into ten regions, each having an expert coordinator. Communities are designated as either small, under 40,000 population, or large, over 40,000. There are 281 participating communities, 119 communities are designated which means they successfully did four out of 10 action steps. There have been 761 actions completed which indicate that many of the participating communities are well on their way to being designated. The prizes for designation are divided into blocks 1 and 2 and also large and small communities. Prizes range from $250,000 to $50,000 of grant money that is available according to what size community and which block (round) you are participating in. The prize is actually an opportunity to apply for the allocated grant money with a clean energy project idea for up to that amount. This must be done within three months of designation. The CEC coordinator from your region will hold your hand through this process to ensure success.
Mohawk Valley and North Country are the two regions that have the most remaining award money available.
This program is refreshing, easy, and a no-nonsense government benefit that is good for the community by reducing carbon and allows the community to be more fiduciary responsible.
Joanne Coons is an adjunct professor at Hudson Valley Community College, TEC-SMART facility teaching PV Theory and Design. She organizes Capital Region NYSES (New York Solar Energy Society) monthly meetings and is a member of the Town of Clifton Park GREEN Committee.
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