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How Three CNY Communities Became Clean Energy Designations

Several Central New York communities are being recognized for town-wide green energy initiatives that are saving tax-payers money.  The Village of Pulaski, the Town of Cazenovia, and the Village of Cazenovia are eligible for $50,000 in state grants to continue alternative energy development. Village of Cazenovia Mayor Kurt Wheeler finds that green initiatives are something everyone in a community can get behind. 

“The reception has been very positive. There’s something for everybody here, whether you’re a hardcore environmentalist—these steps are a positive in that sense—but even if you’re not, they just make good sense fiscally. And I think by sort of setting the example as a municipality, that encourages your individual residents to then look for how they could do similar things with their own homes.”

Communities earn Clean Energy Designations by completing at least four green energy projects from a list provided by NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.  The Village of Cazenovia has applied for solar energy permits, is watching municipal energy usage, and has installed electric car charging stations.  Wheeler hopes such projects will make the village a better, more efficient place to live going forward.

“All these things that we’ve done are certainly helpful for the environment, but they also make fiscal sense for our tax payers.  And they also, in the case of the car charging station, make us a more welcoming community for visitors. We see all these steps as really being a win-win on multiple fronts.” 

The village of Pulaski adopted the NYS Unified Solar Permit to streamline approval for local solar projects.

In addition to making it easier for residents to install solar panels, the Village plans to use a 200-kilowatt solar array to help power municipal buildings. Local Trustee and Sustainability Coordinator Dave Porter also says street lights, which comprise over 50-percent of municipal energy usage, will be converted to LED within the next year. Porter finds that with NYSERDA’shelp, it’s easier for New York communities to take their first steps toward sustainable living. 

“Some of these projects, they seem kind of complicated at first, but we try to make continuing progress. We’re very happy with the energy savings that we’re going to be having, and I think that it’s brought a lot of awareness to the rest of the village.”

Porter says Cazenovia’s projects will pay for themselves in energy savings. Grants for future projects come from the Clean Energy Fund, part of the State’s goal to make 50-percent of New York’s energy green by 2030. To learn more, visit

Town of Cazenovia
Here’s what the town did to earn the Clean Energy Community designation:

  • Adopted the New York State Unified Solar Permit to streamline the approvals process for local solar projects. 
  • Initiated a community-based Solarize campaign to reduce solar project costs through joint purchasing.
  • Completed energy code enforcement training on best practices in energy code enforcement for code compliance officers and other municipal officials.
  • Approved an energy benchmarking policy to track and report energy use in the Town’s municipal buildings.
Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at