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NYSERDA Announces Tompkins County as the First County in Southern Tier to Earn Clean Energy Community Designation

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NYSERDA Announces Tompkins County as the First County in Southern Tier to Earn Clean Energy Community Designation

Thursday, April 20, 2017

County is recognized for its commitment to reduce energy consumption,
cut costs and drive clean energy in its communities

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced that Tompkins County is the first county in the Southern Tier to be designated a Clean Energy Community, recognizing its leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs and driving clean energy in its communities. This announcement complements Southern Tier Soaring, the regional economic blueprint aimed at attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation.

Announced by Governor Cuomo in August, the $16 million Clean Energy Communities initiative supports local government leaders across the State to implement 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 Clean Energy Standard mandate requiring 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy resources by 2030.

Tompkins 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. In addition, the designation gives Tompkins County an opportunity to apply for up to $250,000 toward additional clean energy projects, with no local cost share.

John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA, said, “Congratulations to Tompkins County on this important accomplishment and for its leadership in driving local clean energy actions to reduce costs and protect the environment. Communities are central to ensuring a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy future for all New Yorkers, as the State advances Governor Cuomo’s REV strategy.”

Tompkins County completed the following high-impact clean energy actions:

Established an Energize NY Finance Program that enables long-term, affordable Property Assessed Clean Energy financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at commercial buildings and not-for-profits
Purchased five plug-in hybrid vehicles to use as part of the county fleet
Earned Climate Smart Communities Certification through the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for developing a comprehensive program to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the environment
Established a community-based Solarize campaign to reduce solar project costs through joint purchasing. The campaign resulted in 355 installations.

"Tompkins County appreciates the recognition this Clean Energy Community designation provides for our ongoing efforts to lead by example in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to clean energy,” said Michael Lane, Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature. “It is vital for local communities to become clean energy leaders to meet the needs of current and future generations while advancing economic vitality, environmental stewardship, and social equity. With the assistance of Clean Energy Community resources, Tompkins County looks forward to taking even greater strides in living up to this designation and sharing lessons learned with other communities."

Additional clean energy action items communities can take to achieve designation include:
Performing energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to municipal buildings
Completing energy code enforcement training on best practices in energy code enforcement for code compliance officers and other municipal officials
Converting streetlights to energy efficient LED technology
Implementing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) so residents can gain greater choice and control over energy use a group
Benchmarking energy use at municipal and large privately owned buildings
Streamlining local approval processes for solar projects through adoption of the New York State Unified Solar Permit

The County has also developed an energy roadmap to meet projected energy needs while achieving greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals; created a strategy to analyze high-growth focus areas and ensure infrastructure will meet projected energy demands; and as an EV Deployment Community, developed an electric vehicle infrastructure plan and charging station site suitability tool. The County is also expected to meet two-thirds of the County government’s electricity needs through a hydroelectric remote net metering agreement.

Cities, counties, towns and villages that complete at least four of 10 high-impact clean energy actions are designated Clean Energy Communities and are eligible to apply for funding of up to $250,000 with no local cost share with the option of receiving up to 25 percent paid in advance to support additional clean energy projects. At least two of the four 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 in completing the actions.

Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring
Today's announcement complements the “Southern Tier Soaring,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. This initiative is focused on innovation, vigorous business growth and to creating an environment aimed at attracting the best and brightest talent to the region. The State has already invested more than $3.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan which includes investing in key industries such as advanced manufacturing, food and agriculture and in efforts that support the greater Binghamton innovation ecosystem. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning as a destination in which to grow and invest. The $500 million “Southern Tier Soaring” Upstate Revitalization Initiative announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015 will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.


About Clean Energy Fund
The 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund 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 reduce ratepayer collections, drive economic development, and accelerate the use of clean energy and energy innovation. It includes a minimum of $234 million in funding over the first three years to support clean energy opportunities specifically to benefit low- to moderate-income communities throughout the State. The CEF also supports the aggressive Clean Energy Standard, which requires that 50 percent of the State’s electricity 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 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 generating 50 percent of the state's electricity needs 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, 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.

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The information reprinted here was prepared and released by NYSERDA on 4/20/17.