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Energy/Climate Solutions

New York's Portfolio of Energy and Climate Programs

The science is clear -- the earth's climate is changing because of human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs). So to protect its citizens and economy, New York State is building a portfolio of programs and policies aimed at reducing GHG emissions and preparing for unavoidable climate change.

Because nearly nine-tenths of all GHGs come from burning fossil fuels, reducing carbon dioxide emissions means reducing fossil fuel use in all economic sectors. State emission mitigation programs use emission controls, technical assistance and financial incentives to ease the transition from fossil fuel combustion to clean energy. State climate adaptation programs emphasize information and assistance for local governments, which have legal responsibility for protecting public health and safety in New York.

The following list briefly describes key state energy and climate programs. Many programs that emphasize GHG emissions reduction also will make New York more resilient to future changes in climate. For further information about these programs, follow the links at the right side of this page.

Statewide Energy and Climate Planning

Sustainability - Sustainability means both lower GHG emissions and greater resilience to climate change. New York's Cleaner, Greener Communities program promotes and supports local sustainability planning and implementation. State sustainability planning grants are currently funding development of plans in ten regions across the state; implementation grants will help support priority actions identified in the sustainability plans. Some projects being concurrently developed by Regional Economic Development Councils also will help advance sustainability goals.

solar panels on roof with Albany buildings behind
At operating peak, solar panels
on the roof of the Dormitory Authority
of New York's Albany headquarters,
supply approximately 6 percent of
the building's electricity needs.
Energy efficiency, environmental,
and operational improvements over
the past 10 years led to a recent
LEED-EB Gold (Existing Building)
award. (Photo: DASNY)

Climate Smart Communities - Over 120 New York cities, towns, villages and counties have pledged to inventory and reduce GHG emissions, prepare for climate change, and invest in green economies. New York's Climate Smart Communities program provides technical assistance and support to help these communities meet their goals.

Energy - Work is currently underway on the 2013 New York State Energy Plan, which brings together expertise from 13 state agencies to chart an efficient, reliable and economically vibrant energy future. The plan includes detailed examinations of energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation, electric power and climate change.

Climate Adaptation - The 2011 ClimAID Study examines how climate change impacts -- rising temperatures, more precipitation, severe weather conditions and sea level rise -- will affect New York State's economy, environment, communities and human health. The study explores measures to adapt the state to climate change impacts. The Sea Level Rise Task Force Report (2010) examines sea level projections for New York coastlines and offers recommendations for state action.

Climate Action - The 2010 Interim Report for the New York State Climate Action Plan proposes ways for state government and key economic sectors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt as the climate changes and promote a green economy.

white hybrid car with yellow cable running from car to post
A plug-in electric hybrid recharges at a public charging
station located at Saratoga Technology and Energy
Park in Malta. NYSERDA offers funding incentives to
offset the cost of electric vehicle charging stations and
also provides some incentives for EV purchases.
(Photo: NYSERDA)

Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) - Eleven Northeastern states and the District of Columbia are working together on clean vehicles and fuels and on other policies that will advance clean transportation in the region. A key element of this regional effort is enabling electric vehicle adoption, so that vehicles can be operated by renewable electricity wherever it is available.

Waste Management - State law includes measures to require recycling and reduce waste plastic bags, electronics and hazardous materials. Beyond Waste, the most recent state solid waste plan, recommends full materials management.

Open Space - The State Open Space Plan supports natural sequestration of carbon and promotes sustainable land use.

Office of Climate Change - The Office of Climate Change leads development of programs and policies that mitigate GHG emissions and help municipalities and individuals adapt to the effects of climate change.

Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Reduction

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) - This cap-and-invest program aims to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from electric power generating facilities (carbon dioxide, or CO2, is the most abundant GHG). The New York CO2 Budget Trading Program and quarterly RGGI auctions began in 2008, with auction proceeds supporting investments in energy efficiency and clean technologies. Over the next decade, an independent study estimates that these investments will save some $1.3 billion for electricity and natural gas consumers in the ten-state RGGI region and boost the regional economy by more than $1.6 billion (and approximately 16,000 jobs).

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emission Standards - New York State has adopted new performance standards for electric generating facilities. The standards cover new major facilities (capacity at least 25 megawatts (MW)), and increases of at least 25 MW in the capacity of existing facilities. The performance standards are found in a new 6 NYCRR Part 251 and revisions to 6 NYCRR Part 200, General Provisions.

State Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act - This law sets a state policy of maximizing the social, economic and environmental benefits from public infrastructure by minimizing unnecessary costs of sprawl development. The law requires that new or expanded transportation, sewer and waste water treatment, water, education, housing and other publicly supported infrastructure be consistent with smart growth public infrastructure criteria.

Adoption of California Vehicle Emissions Standards - California is entitled to set vehicle emissions standards that are stricter than federal rules, and other states seeking strict standards can then enact California's rule. New York has adopted the most recent California standards, which by 2016 reduce GHG emissions from cars by 37 percent, and from light trucks by 24 percent.

Complete Streets - Adopted in 2011, this state law requires state, county, and local transportation agencies to consider complete streets design principles on all future projects that receive federal and state funding.

Green Leadership in Transportation Environmental Sustainability (GreenLites) - A rating system developed in 2008 to evaluate New York's transportation projects, minimizing environmental impact and depletion of the state's resources.

The Climate Registry - This international nonprofit partnership has established a common system for recording and reporting greenhouse gas emissions. DEC is enrolled as a reporting member and has released its first greenhouse gas inventories (for 2008) and is working on an inventory and report for subsequent years.

unwasteNY - Launched by the Public Service Commission, unwasteNY is a statewide effort to illuminate energy use and help New Yorkers take simple steps to eliminate energy waste. Visitors to unwasteNY.org can create a custom plan to unwaste energy in the home, compare their energy consumption to that of their neighbors', learn energy waste reduction tips and locate energy saving programs and rebates.

Regional Clean Fuels Standard - The RGGI participating states and the State of Pennsylvania are working on a market-based, technologically neutral emissions-performance standard that will reduce the carbon concentration in fuels used in vehicles and buildings and encourages energy providers to use low-carbon-intensity fuels.

Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (15 by 2015) - To reduce electricity usage 15 percent from forecasted levels by 2015, New York's energy efficiency portfolio standard supports new energy efficiency programs - retrofitting outdated, inefficient residential, commercial and industrial properties, and installing new energy efficient equipment. When fully funded, this program is expected to provide more than $4 billion in benefits to customers, along with creating thousands of jobs.

Aerial view of the DEC building with Hudson River, I-787 and railroad bridge in background
DEC's Central Office is housed in a Leadership
in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
Silver rated building in Albany.
(Photo: NYSERDA)

Green Buildings - Green buildings maintain convenience and comfort with less than average amounts of electricity and fuel (and lower operating costs). To help "green" new and rehabilitated commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings, NYSERDA offers Green Building Services for building design teams. The New Construction Program provides assistance to incorporate energy-efficiency measures into the design, construction, and operation of new and substantially renovated buildings. Many state office buildings have been built to high-efficiency standards or upgraded to increase energy efficiency (DEC's Central Office building in downtown Albany is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified).

Green and Clean State Buildings and Vehicles Guidelines (Executive Order No. 111) and State Green Procurement and Agency Sustainability Program (EO No. 4) - EO No. 111 required state buildings to reduce energy consumption by 35 percent from 1990 levels by 2010, and mandated that state agencies select Energy Star-labeled products. Construction and renovations must follow Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards. EO No. 4 promotes the state purchase of environmentally friendly commodities, services and technologies, as well as agency sustainability and stewardship programs.

BUILD SMART NY - A state initiative designed to accomplish Governor Cuomo's goal of improving energy efficiency in state buildings 20% by 2020. Over the next seven years, the program will measure building energy performance in all state buildings larger than 20,000 square feet. The largest and poorest performing buildings will be targeted for energy audits, energy efficiency upgrades, and best practices will be implemented for building operations and maintenance.

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - New York is one of 29 states using a renewable portfolio standard to drive a transition to renewable sources of electricity. This standard requires 30 percent of the state's electricity to be supplied from renewable energy sources by 2015 and provides financial incentives to support development of renewable energy sources. The renewable energy portfolio standard has supported 39 large scale renewable projects, and additional funding has been authorized for future projects.

Aerial view of Higley Dam with lake and buildings
Higley Dam hydroelectric project received
funding under the Renewable Portfolio Standard
(RPS) Program. Large-scale projects providing
power to the grid can receive NYSERDA
funding on a per-megawatt-hour basis over 10
years of production. (Photo: NYSERDA)

Net Metering - Net metering allows electricity customers with qualified renewable energy systems to sell excess electricity back to a local utility -- homes, businesses, farms and institutions can receive credit from their power suppliers for excess electricity generated by photovoltaics, wind, biomass, fuel cells, anaerobic digestion, small hydroelectric and microturbines. Net metering makes it easier for residences and businesses to use renewable technology and encourages new distributed generation facilities. Recently, the state legislature expanded net metering to include larger solar installations and electricity generated from wind and farm waste and increased the amount of energy that utilities are required to buy back.

NY Sun - The NY Sun Act provides administrative flexibility to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and other New York State energy agencies and authorities to design the most cost-effective programs and to respond to changing market conditions. NY-Sun includes a solar jobs program to bolster the use of solar power in New York, while also protecting the ratepayer. The NY-Sun program is authorized through 2015, and Governor Cuomo has proposed to extend it through 2023 at the existing annual funding levels.

Solar Installation Incentives - Long-term loans to help cover installed costs of grid-connected residential and commercial solar PV electric power systems are available through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). This financial assistance program has a goal of installing 82 MW of solar PV capacity (which will generate 93,806 Mwh) each year. NYSERDA also offers incentives for installing solar hot water heating systems.

Tax Incentives - Residential solar incentives in New York include: an income tax credit for 25 percent of the cost of the system ($5,000 maximum) for grid connected and net metered residential (including multi-family) solar electric and solar thermal systems; exemption from state sales tax for passive solar space heat, solar water heat, solar space heat and photovoltaics installed in residential and multi-family residential buildings; subject to local option, a 15-year real property tax exemption for the cost of solar and certain other renewable energy systems, to ensure that property taxes do not rise because owners install solar energy equipment.

Climate Change Adaptation

2100 Commission - Acknowledging the risks and realities of climate change, this commission charted out a course for long term recovery which proposes, among many things, the restoration of the natural landscape, distributed and efficient energy, and a greener, resiliency-based building code.

New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force - The Task Force, created by the state Legislature to assess impacts to the state's coastlines from sea level rise and recommend measures to protect and adapt coastal communities and natural habitats, provided its final report in 2010.

ClimAID report: Responding to Climate Change in New York State (November, 2011) - A joint study by Columbia University, Cornell University and Hunter College is a climate change preparedness resource for planners, policymakers, and the public.

New York's Energy Economy

System Benefits Charge/New York Energy $mart Program - Public policy initiatives such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, low-income customer assistance, research and development and environmental protection receive support from the System Benefits Charge on consumer utility bills. These initiatives are carried out through the New York Energy $mart Program, which is administered by NYSERDA.

Energy Storage Research and Development (NYBEST) - Since 2010 the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology (NY-BEST™) Consortium has worked to establish a strong "ecosystem" encompassing all stages of energy storage product development and use for transportation, grid storage and power electronics. Its diverse members (about 100 manufacturers, academic institutions, utilities, technology and materials developers, government entities, consultants and end-users) provide expert resources for energy storage-related companies and organizations seeking to grow in New York State. Help from NY-BEST makes it easier for new energy storage businesses to access financing, research capabilities, potential partners, manufacturers and other private sector and government resources.

NY Energy Highway - The New York Energy Highway Blueprint provides a plan for a dynamic public-private partnership that will rebuild and rejuvenate New York State's electric power system and enable the state's economy and society to meet 21st century energy needs. Developed by the Energy Highway Task Force (New York's principal energy, environmental and economic development officials), the Blueprint recommends 13 public-private actions to help transport New York's aging energy infrastructure for the future. Closely linked to the New NY Works program, the Energy Highway will clear the way for job creation, private-sector investment, greater energy independence and environmental protection.

NY Green Bank - Governor Cuomo this year created a cabinet-level Chairman of Energy Policy and Finance assigned to develop a $1 billion Green Bank that will coordinate existing clean energy finance programs and expand them to transform the clean energy marketplace. The lowering of financial barriers would enable clean energy markets to function more fluidly, connecting green projects with investors and capital, raising product awareness and aggregating small projects for funding, bringing well-paying jobs to New York State.


More about Energy/Climate Solutions:

  • Regional Clean Fuels Standard - Information on the regional clean fuels standard now under consideration by the eleven northeast and mid/Atlantic states and the City of Washington, DC.