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Adirondack North Country Association hosts meeting on Clean Energy Communities program

Clean Energy Communities webinar slate
Tug Hill Commission
Tug Hill Commission
Clean Energy Communities webinar slate

The Adirondack North Country Association is getting the word out about new clean energy funding available to communities.

New York’s “Clean Energy Communities3.0,” launched in December, makes $25 million in grants available for clean energy projects across the state. The Adirondack North Country Association, or ANCA, serves as the Clean Energy Communities Program coordinator for seven counties in the North Country. It hosted a recent webinar bringing clean energy coordinators from across New York.

Mohawk Valley Region Clean Energy Specialist Samantha Francisco explained how the program came about.

“The Clean Energy Communities Program was started by NYSERDA as a way to provide kind of a roadmap for how municipalities can implement different clean energy projects,” Francisco said. “It's kind of designed as a guide and to give you ideas about what you might be able to do to reduce your energy usage and increase the energy efficiency of your municipality. The really good news about this program is that in December we had a revamp of the program. And what that means is there is additional funding opportunities. So all of the funding opportunities have gone up quite substantially. So this is a great time to get involved with the program or kind of revisit the program if you've put it on the back burner for the last couple of years.”

Francisco explained it is a point-based program to incentivize clean energy implementation.

“There are multiple different actions that you can take and you can choose whichever ones work best for your municipality,” noted Francisco. “As you complete actions, you'll submit those and once they get approved, you're accruing points and you can also access different grant funding. There are two different types of grants. There's designation grants which are awarded based on the points that you're accumulating through different actions that you're implementing. Those can go up to $350,000. And there are also action grants. These are for completing community campaigns. Those are typically between $5,000 and $60,000.”

Projects eligible for funding include solar, electric vehicles and EV charging stations, heat pumps and building energy upgrades.

The Village of Pulaski in Oswego County has completed 13 actions and earned 4,000 points in the program. Mayor Jan Tighe (“tie”) says they started by changing streetlighting and expanded their participation when air conditioning failed in a village building.

“One thing I'll say about this grant program is you don't need a match,” stated Tighe. ”And there's tangible results. I mean, so many times you fill out a grant application. You wait and wait and wait and then you find out you have nothing in your hand but a few pieces of paper. Well with this grant program if you do the work and complete the items there's really tangible results. And the other thing that I think is great about this program is when you do get those tangible results, and you put in your LED lighting and efficiency pumps, it's the gift that keeps on giving. It helps you keep your operating costs down for your village.”

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation offers a similar Climate Smart Communities Program. Mohawk Valley Economic Development District Regional Coordinator Amanda Mazzoni says that is a sister program to the NYSERDA-run Clean Energy Communities Program.

“It does include all of the clean energy measures that are a part of the Clean Energy Communities Program,” explained Mazzoni. “But it also includes a lot of other things like greenhouse gas inventories, climate action planning, resiliency planning, adaptation planning and additional community outreach and education components. So it's a way that your community can get recognition for your leadership, not just on clean energy, but on other kinds of sustainability related actions. We all work very closely together to try to encourage communities to participate in both programs.”