ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Gov. Cuomo announced $17 million in funding and expanded high-impact actions to help drive stronger community leadership to reduce harmful carbon emissions, expand assistance for disadvantaged areas and foster further investments in the clean energy economy. This is done under the state’s Clean Energy Communities program.

The program’s new Leadership Round increases the options a community can choose from to lower their carbon footprint, recognizes their leadership through a point rewards system, provides access to other grant opportunities and supports the Governor’s climate agenda, which includes a goal to direct 40% of the benefits from clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.

Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Leadership Round will help more cities, counties, towns and villages join the over 300 local governments that have already earned the Clean Energy Community designation.

Since the program launched in 2016, over 600 communities, representing more than 91% of the state’s population in 61 counties and all 10 Economic Development Council regions, have completed 1,700 high-impact actions through the program. All communities can participate in the new Clean Energy Communities Leadership Round without local cost share and regardless of previous participation in the program.

Four high-impact clean energy actions must be completed to earn a Clean Energy Communities designation. This round includes adopting Community Campaigns for qualifying clean energy initiatives such as electric vehicles, community solar, clean heating and cooling, energy efficiency or demand response, among others. Those participating in a Community Campaign must identify partners, volunteers, local officials and formal roles and responsibilities needed to achieve a clean energy initiative.

Another opportunity a community may target is adopting the NYStretch Energy Code, a cost-effective statewide model building code to help local jurisdictions meet their energy and climate goals while increasing energy cost savings, reducing building emissions, improving resiliency, and lowering utility bills.

Additional funding is included for disadvantaged communities through the Leadership Round in support of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal of increasing access to clean energy and sustainable infrastructure to all end-users.

Local governments in New York State interested in participating in the program can apply for grants through NYSERDA’s online portal on a rolling basis, until Dec. 31, 2025 or until funds are exhausted. Grants available include:

  • Clean Energy Communities Grant of $5,000 for communities that complete at least four NYSERDA-identified high-impact actions.
  • Action grant of up to $50,000 for adopting the NYStretch Code and up to $60,000 for undertaking one or more clean energy Community Campaigns.
  • Disadvantaged Communities that are awarded more than $20,000 for a clean energy project can qualify for an additional $10,000 to further the project.
  • Point-based grants where communities earn points for each clean energy action completed. Upon crossing certain point thresholds, communities will become eligible for larger grant amounts.

The program also provides Clean Energy Community Coordinators at no charge to help communities develop and prioritize clean energy goals, assist with accessing easy-to-use resources like guidance documents and case studies, and help them leverage available funding and technical assistance opportunities. Local governments interested in working with a coordinator to develop their plan and complete the actions can find local coordinators online.