The following is a republished press release from NYSERDA and NOT written by The Ithaca Voice. Click here to submit community announcements directly to The Voice, or email tips@ithacavoice.com.

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.
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.