New Center for the Southern Tier

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has announced that Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCETC) has been named the “clean energy hub” for the Southern Tier and was awarded a $3.5 million grant to help fulfill that mission.

Each of the state’s 10 regions had at least one “clean energy hub” designated to serve as regional coordinator for NYSERDA, which granted a total of over $52 million. Except for New York City, most regions received similar amounts.

According to NYSERDA's press release, designation as a clean energy hub means each organization will “serve as centers of outreach, awareness, and education in regions across New York State and help foster residents’ participation, especially those in underserved or otherwise disadvantaged communities, in New York’s clean energy transition.” The state has committed to dedicating at least 35 percent of the benefits from clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities to ensure an equitable transition to renewable energy sources.

“The funds will primarily be used to hire staff from around the 8-county (Southern Tier) region that will engage residents, especially people with limited income and from disadvantaged communities, around ways to reduce energy use and save money,” said CCETC’s Karim Beers, who is spearheading the organization's efforts as the regional hub. “The Hubs’ community energy advisers (CEAs) will provide information and support through direct outreach at food lines and community festivals, as well as through workshops and presentations, to help people access incentives and programs to make sure their homes have enough insulation, are sealed up well, have affordable and clean heating systems, and have access to solar power. There are programs for homeowners and renters.”

Beers added that the staff will focus on helping people access clean energy jobs, largely through training or connecting them to training programs.

“CEAs will also create spaces where people can give input on energy-related programs and policies that are under development by the state,” he said. “The CEA serving Tompkins County will partner with other local initiatives such as the Ithaca Green New Deal and others to contribute to their success.”

The CEAs will assist, then, in making programs spurred by those government acts accessible and understandable, helping the city and state to achieve the goals they set forth. They will serve as policy translators and program guides for their communities.

Beers added that CCETC is currently interviewing candidates next week for the Tompkins community energy advisor position for an intended January start. Advisers in Delaware, Tioga and Chemung counties have already started.

- Brian Crandall, Ithaca Voice, 12/12/22

Cooperative Extension Receives $3.5M Grant for Clean Energy Hub

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