NYSERDA: Making the State of New York More Sustainable

Michael Tobias
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    The main purpose the NY State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) is helping the state of New York become more energy efficient, while transitioning to a cleaner grid powered by renewable sources. NYSERDA provides both technical assistance and funding for projects that fall under its areas of oversight.

    NYSERDA was created in 1975, after state authorities became aware that the supply of fossil fuels could be compromised by geopolitical factors, and also that oil was a finite resource. Solar and wind power were still experimental concepts at the time, and hydroelectricity was the only large-scale renewable source with commercial viability. The first version of NYSERDA was more like a research and development lab, slowly evolving into the consulting and funding organization it is today.

    Photovoltaic systems and wind turbines experienced drastic cost reductions after the year 2000, making them financially viable. As a result, NYSERDA assumed a much more important role in the energy sector: one of its main achievements is the New York Clean Energy Standard (CES), which requires electric utilities in the state to obtain 50% of their energy from renewable sources by 2030.

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    Technical Assistance for Energy Users in New York

    Depending on their type of building or area of business, NY energy consumers may be eligible for energy audits and technical assistance granted by NYSERDA. The main energy audit programs are summarized in the following table.



    Agriculture Energy Audit Program

    Farms and greenhouses are eligible for technical assistance to identify the best energy efficiency measures.

    Commercial Tenant Program

    Energy audit grants for commercial office tenants and property owners.

    Flexible Technical Assistance (FlexTech)

    Commercial and industrial facilities can get grants for up to 50% of the cost of an energy audit, carried out by a NYSERDA approved FlexTech consultant.

    Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge

    NYSERDA and the New York Power Authority identify the best candidates for installation of ground-source heat pumps and provide free technical assistance. The program is exclusive for colleges, universities, K-12 schools, healthcare and government buildings.

    On-Site Energy Manager Program

    NYSERDA offers a temporal energy manager for commercial and industrial facilities lacking an appointed energy manager. Companies who get the benefit must agree to have results published, and to appoint their own energy manager after the program.


    Provides technical assistance for community-based organizations (CBO) who plan to deploy clean energy projects in low to moderate income communities.

    Strategic Energy Management Program

    Training industrial energy consumers to become more proficient at energy management, creating their own Strategic Energy Management (SEM) system.

    NYSERDA Incentive Programs and Financing

    In addition to providing free or partially-free technical assistance, NYSERDA also manages multiple rebate and financing programs for energy efficiency and renewable generation. These incentives make projects easier to afford, either by reducing their total cost or by providing low-interest financing.



    Air-Source Heat Pump (AHSP) Program

    Provides air-source heat pump contractors a rebate of $500 per unit installed. The total funding is $10.95 million, and the limit is $500,000 per contractor.

    Assistance Home Performance with ENERGY STAR

    Covers 50% of the cost of energy efficiency projects in residential properties. The incentive is up to $4,000 per project in single-family homes and $8,000 per project in building with two to four dwelling units.

    Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

    Incentive for CHP systems with up to 3 MW of capacity in the state of New York. Applies for pre-engineered and custom systems, but if the system is custom-built the minimum capacity is 1 MW. The rebate is up to $2.5 million per project.

    Drive Clean Rebate

    Offers an incentive of up to $2,000 for purchasing or leasing a plug-in electric vehicle.

    Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing

    Financing program for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades, where the loan payments are charged along with property taxes.

    EmPower New York

    Free energy efficiency upgrades for low-income households. The free measures include insulation, air sealing, lighting upgrades, and refrigerator and freezer upgrades.

    Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) Rebate

    Funding for GSHP designers and installers approved by NYSERDA. The rebate is $1500/ton for installations up to 10 tons, and $1200/ton for larger installations. The amount is subject to program limits per building, per site, and per designer or installer.

    Industrial and Process Efficiency Program

    Performance-based incentive for production facilities, concentrating on manufacturing operations and data centers, but not exclusively. The incentive value is calculated based on the first-year performance of energy efficiency measures.

    Real Time Energy Management (RTEM)

    Cost-share incentives for RTEM systems in multifamily, commercial and industrial properties.

    Renewable Heat NY

    Applies for homes and businesses with no access to the natural gas service, providing incentives for high-efficiency and low-emissions wood heating.

    Small Wind Turbine Program

    Performance-based incentive that covers up to 50% of the cost of a wind turbine. The maximum turbine size is 2 MW per client per site, and it must be connected to the power grid.

    NY-Sun Program

    Provides incentives for solar photovoltaic systems, calculated per kilowatt of capacity. Incentive rates change depending on the NY state region and the type of customer (residential, small business, large business).


    NYSERDA plays a key role in energy efficiency and renewable generation projects in New York City. They help energy consumers identify the best projects, while providing incentives and financing to make them more affordable. NYSERDA programs have statewide coverage and provide general guidelines, but you must also consider building code requirements, especially in New York City where they tend to be more demanding. By working with qualified design engineers, you can make sure your projects are code-compliant and eligible for incentives.

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    Tags : Sustainability green energy renewable energy new york Energy Efficiency

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