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Tompkins County designated as “clean-energy community”

By Eric Reinhardt


Tompkins County LogoTompkins County is the first county in the Southern Tier to earn the designation as a “clean-energy community.”

It recognizes Tompkins County’s leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs and “driving” clean energy in its communities, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) said in a news release issued Thursday.

Tompkins County earned the title for completing four of 10 “high-impact,” clean-energy projects that NYSERDA identified 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.

The $16 million “clean-energy communities” initiative supports local-government leaders across the state in implementing energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable-development projects in their communities.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative last August, NYSERDA said.

The initiative advances Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy (REV) strategy, “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.

“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 Gov. Cuomo’s REV strategy,” John Rhodes, president and CEO of NYSERDA, said in the release.

The announcement “complements” Southern Tier Soaring, the “regional economic blueprint aimed at attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation,” per the release.

The Southern Tier was one of three regions to capture $500,000 awards in Cuomo’s upstate New York economic-development contest in December 2015.


Clean energy projects

Tompkins County 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 nonprofits.

It also purchased five plug-in hybrid vehicles to use as part of the county fleet.

In addition, Tompkins County also earned “climate smart communities” certification through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for developing a program to “reduce its carbon footprint and improve the environment,” NYSERDA said.

The county also started a community-based Solarize campaign to reduce solar-project costs through joint purchasing. The campaign resulted in 355 installations.


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