New York to Launch $20M Competition for Advanced Energy Projects in Five Cities

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New York plans to launch a $20 million competition for advanced energy projects in five cities — Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers —  in an effort to reduce the $2.2 billion the cities spend annually on energy.

The Five Cities Initiative is designed to cut city energy costs by as much as $400 million annually, lower carbon emissions, and support clean energy technologies and jobs.  The program focuses on energy planning, efficiency in buildings and transportation, and energy supply and distribution (including microgrids and solar photovoltaics).

Through the program, New York hopes to:

  • Revitalize cities to attract new businesses and residents
  • Retrofit city and community buildings
  • Improve the energy efficiency of outdoor lighting with LEDs
  • Modify zoning to promote alternate modes of transportation

“This competition will allow regions to develop their best possible plan to bring their energy infrastructure into the 21st century,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “It will not only save costs and reduce harmful carbon emissions, but create jobs and help our cities move toward a more sustainable future.”

Spearheaded by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the competition is part of a larger program to spur private sector participation in the state’s clean-energy economy.

NYPA is expected to vote on authorizing the initial $20 million at its February 26 meeting. Total program funding will be $35 million.  The authority will help the cities put the plans in place and monitor their progress.

Buildings consume 64 percent of energy in the cities. Municipal buildings account for only one to three percent of that consumption, which underscores the need to draw the private sector into the program, according to a NYPA report on the five-city plan.

Five Cities expands upon the BuildSmart NY program, established by Cuomo in 2011. The cities will aim to improve energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020 for municipal buildings and 20 percent by 2030 citywide, including private buildings. BuildSmart NY mandates a 20-percent energy-efficiency increase in state-owned and managed buildings by 2020.

On a larger scale, the cities program is part of Reforming the Energy Vision or REV, a program to spur clean energy and create a kind of market exchange for distributed energy.

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.


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