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NYSAC Advocates for Clean Energy Communities Program in Comments Submitted to PSC

This week, NYSAC, in coordination with the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) and the Association of Towns (AOT), submitted public comments on a Public Service Commission (PSC) proceeding that will determine how the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) engages local governments over the next five years in support of New York State's building decarbonization goals.
Our comments communicate key concerns from members about replacing NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities (CEC) program with Clean Energy Municipal Leadership Cohorts and outline several suggestions to ensure effective local government engagement in clean energy initiatives:
  1. Preserve the CEC Program: The CEC program is essential for local governments to support the Climate Act's energy goals and should be continued beyond 2025. Unlike the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)'s Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program, which is more broadly focused on sustainability, CEC focuses specifically on clean energy projects and offers unmatched support in advancing local energy projects.

  2. Maintain Match-Free Grants: Match-free grants are crucial for enabling counties and municipalities to implement clean energy projects without additional financial burdens. This unique feature of the CEC program streamlines the local decision-making process and increases the likelihood of important decarbonization projects being undertaken.

  3. Support CEC Coordinators: CEC's regional coordinators offer indispensable expertise and support, helping local governments avoid common pitfalls in project implementation. Ending the CEC program without replicating its unique support would critically undermine municipalities' ability to meet state and local energy goals.

  4. Streamline Local Government Participation: While the proposed Clean Energy Municipal Leadership Cohorts aim to enhance knowledge sharing, they may strain already overextended county and municipal staff. This issue can be mitigated by integrating these objectives into the existing CEC framework and tasking NYSERDA and its coordinators with promoting success stories and best practices.

  5. Maintain Program Consistency: Consistency in NYSERDA's program offerings is vital for municipalities to plan and execute long-term energy projects effectively. Frequent changes to program structures can set back progress and hinder local governments' capacity to support statewide decarbonization efforts.

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