Yates a ‘Clean Energy Community’

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

County earns designation for its commitment to cut costs and reduce energy consumption

PENN YAN — Yates County has announced it has been designated a Clean Energy Community by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), recognizing its leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs, and driving clean energy locally.

Suzanne Hunt with her Chevrolet Volt at the Penn Yan Public Library’s electric vehicle charging station, which helped Yates County earn its Clean Energy Community designation. Hunt County Vineyards was the industry leader when they installed four Tesla chargers at their winery in 2018, and one universal charger, which can be used for other types of vehicles like the Chevy Volt and Bolt, the Nissan Leaf, and the BMW i3. Tesla provided the chargers and installation free of charge, while Hunt Country manages the operation to provide the stations for their customers.

The $16 million Clean Energy Communities initiative was announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in August 2016 to support local government leaders across the state by providing grants to eligible municipalities to implement energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable development projects in their communities. Clean Energy Communities advance the Green New Deal by demonstrating the importance of communities in helping N.Y. reach its goal of having a carbon-neutral economy as soon as practicable and a carbon-free power grid by 2040.

Yates County received the designation for completing four high-impact clean energy actions identified by NYSERDA as part of the Clean Energy Communities initiative. In addition, the designation gives Yates County an opportunity to apply for funding up to $250,000, with no local cost share toward additional clean energy projects.

“By having our Building and Grounds Superintendent Joe Reed work with NYSERDA in achieving this designation, we are acting to both mitigate our environmental impact and save taxpayer dollars in the process,” said Yates County Administrator Winona Flynn, “It is the right thing to do for our environment and for our future.”

Reed added, “These action items have already started yielding the county a reduction in utility usage and have given us a path to follow for continued reduction efforts.”

The two port electric vehicle charging station at the Penn Yan Public Library.

To earn the Clean Energy Community designation, Yates County completed high-impact clean energy actions:

  • Clean energy upgrades
  • Installing an electric vehicle charging station at the Penn Yan Public Library
  • Benchmarking building utilities on the Energy Star website
  • Energy code enforcement training
  • Adopting the Energize N.Y. Finance program.

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 with no local cost share and the option of receiving up to 25% paid in advance to support additional clean energy projects. At least two of the four actions must have been completed after Aug. 1, 2016. NYSERDA is accepting applications for funding until the funds are exhausted. Funds are being provided through the Clean Energy Fund and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Once all funding is exhausted for large or small/medium categories in a region, local governments designated Clean Energy Communities are eligible to apply for a $5,000 grant, on a first-come, first-serve basis until such funds are exhausted.

Clean Energy Community Coordinators are also available at no charge to help communities 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.