New Energy Plans for New York's Cities

The cities of Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers, in partnership with the New York Power Authority, have released their Five Cities' Energy Plans. The cities have been working on their plans over the last year in collaboration with local and statewide stakeholders. These plans, and a new, exciting Community Partnership program for all municipalities in New York, described in a blog by my colleague Donna De Costanzo, were announced as part of Governor Cuomo's 2015 Opportunity Agenda in January. Also announced today is a $20 million competition for innovative energy projects in the five cities. These innovative projects as well as a recommendation and funding for energy managers and funding for implementation of the other efforts highlighted in the energy plans, will be an enormous boon for the cities and bolster the clean energy market throughout the state. (See a blog from Kit Kennedy on good energy news statewide.)

The goals of the Five Cities Energy Plans are to:

  • Reduce energy consumption
  • Strengthen reliability and resiliency of cities' energy infrastructure
  • Catalyze clean energy investment and economic development
  • Contribute to a cleaner environment
  • Enhance quality of life

Along with many other New York State programs that are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving energy and producing clean energy, these City Energy Plans will deliver great benefits to the cities and their residents and businesses. By improving energy efficiency and developing clean power options, implementing the Energy Plans will produce cost savings, drive local job growth, enhance sustainability and improve the quality of life in these cities. There will be municipal savings (estimated to be as much as $400 million a year collectively for all five cities) from lower energy costs, helping the cities' budgets, as well as those of their residents.

The plans all address the following areas: Energy Planning and Coordination, Energy Efficiency in Buildings, Transportation Energy Efficiency, and Energy Distribution and Supply, all topics NRDC has been working on in New York State for many years. We are very pleased that the state and these cities have partnered on this innovative effort to accelerate building a clean energy future in New York. Cities across the country have been a strong and growing force for climate action and clean energy, and New York's energy future is brighter for having strong city leadership on these issues.

The Plans

All the cities' plans include projects that will:

  1. Promote/support community building [energy efficiency] retrofits
  2. Pursue energy-efficiency improvements for municipal buildings
  3. Improve infrastructure/modify zoning to promote alternative modes of transportation
  4. Reduce emissions/fossil-fuel dependence of fleets
  5. Increase electricity generation from renewable energy sources
  6. Implement transportation management tools to reduce idling and vehicle emissions
  7. Expand clean, distributed generation infrastructure
  8. Improve energy efficiency of outdoor lighting
  9. Reduce municipal utility costs
  10. Coordinate with utilities/state to enhance energy infrastructure

And finally here's a short list of all the cities' goals (in case you don't make it through all 230+ pages of the plans):


Secure Albany's Energy Needs Through Cost-Effective Policies, Integrative Planning and Strategies That Emphasize Clean and Efficient Technologies

  • Prepare Albany's workforce for meeting the city's energy and sustainability goals
  • Manage City government energy costs through effective energy procurement, demand management and energy use monitoring

Promote Building Efficiency Throughout All Sectors of the Community, Including Municipal Buildings

  • Update and enforce zoning and building codes to promote energy efficient and resilient buildings
  • Implement financing strategies that support the residential and commercial sectors in implementing energy efficiency upgrades
  • Implement energy conservation measures in municipal buildings to reduce energy use by 20 percent by 2020

Reduce Fossil Fuel Consumption in the Transportation Sector

  • Upgrade transportation infrastructure to maximize efficiency and reduce automobile dependency
  • Expand and improve multi-modal transportation options
  • Remove barriers to installing alternative fuel infrastructure and using alternative fuels
  • Maximize efficiency of vehicle fleets
  • Maximize efficiency and reduce the costs of streetlights

Increase Grid Efficiency and Energy Security While Decreasing Reliance on Fossil Fuels

  • Expand use of renewable energy to power municipal buildings and operations
  • Expand use of renewable energy to power commercial, industrial, and residential facilities
  • Improve the resilience of energy delivery systems


Integrate Energy Management Into City Operational, Budgeting, and Planning Processes

  • Develop data-driven and intergovernmental energy management process
  • Enhance Buffalo's energy management capabilities
  • Reduce the municipal energy rates

Promote Energy Conservation and Efficiency in Buildings

  • Reduce energy usage in municipal buildings by 20 percent by 2020
  • Support citywide building energy efficiency

Promote energy-efficient transportation choices and reduce municipal fleet energy consumption

  • Advance projects supporting multimodal transportation options
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled through adoption of the Green Code
  • Lead by example in reducing municipal vehicle miles traveled
  • Optimize transportation infrastructure and system efficiencies
  • Reduce the environmental impact and operating cost associated with fleet vehicles

Promote District Energy and Distributed Generation

  • Optimize the City's district energy utility
  • Support renewable energy development in the city


Coordinate Municipal, Utility, Regional and State Energy Policies and Planning

  • Improve energy planning and coordination across City agencies and key stakeholders
  • Reduce municipal energy usage and cost

Reduce Energy Usage in Buildings

  • Reduce energy usage in buildings citywide
  • Reduce energy usage in municipal buildings 20 percent by 2020

Reduce Petroleum Usage and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Transportation Sector

  • Increase the proportion of trips made citywide by walking, bicycle and transit
  • Increase the use of alternative fuel vehicles
  • Reduce energy use in conventionally fueled municipal vehicles
  • Reduce energy consumption from the City's street lighting network

Ensure an Energy Supply Within Rochester That Is Safe, Reliable and Affordable

  • Coordinate with RG&E to facilitate maintenance and improvement of natural gas and electricity infrastructure
  • Support the continuation, expansion and creation of district energy and microgrids
  • Increase the amount of energy generated by renewable sources


Increase the amount of energy generated by renewable sources

  • Collaborate with government, utility and private sector partners to advance energy policies and programs
  • Monitor municipal energy usage and communicate trends to decision-makers

Reduce Energy Usage and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Buildings

  • Increase energy efficiency in buildings citywide
  • Reduce energy consumption in municipal buildings by 20 percent by 2020

Reduce Transportation-Related Energy Usage and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Increase the proportion of trips made by walking, bicycle and transit
  • Reduce emissions from vehicles by minimizing idling and facilitating use of cleaner fuels
  • Reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the City's fleet 10 percent by 2020
  • Reduce energy usage and cost of municipal street lighting

Modernize Energy Infrastructure to Ensure Safe, Reliable and Affordable Energy for City Consumers

  • Support the upgrade and modernization of local energy infrastructure in conjunction with utilities and other stakeholders
  • Support community efforts to generate electricity from renewable sources
  • Increase the generation of electricity from renewable sources at City-owned facilities


Encourage Efficient, Clean and Affordable Energy Through Coordination, Awareness and Education

  • Improve coordination among City agencies
  • Implement programs and policies to support green development
  • Increase sustainability awareness and provide educational resources for municipal staff, residents, businesses and students

Reduce Community and Municipal Building Level Energy 20 Percent (From 2010 Baseline) by 2020

  • Reduce energy consumption and emissions through energy monitoring systems in buildings citywide
  • Implement programs and policies to reduce citywide energy and GHG emissions
  • Implement programs and policies to reduce municipal building energy use and emissions

Increase Transportation Options Citywide to Transform Yonkers Into a Walkable, Bike Friendly, Transit-Focused City

  • Create active, mixed-use neighborhoods that are safe and easily accessible by walking, cycling and transit
  • Expand and encourage commute options for City employees
  • Improve City vehicle fleet efficiency

Expand the Use of District and Renewable Systems To Increase Resilience and Reduce Carbon Emissions

  • Identify and support the expansion of district and renewable energy systems
  • Enhance the city's resilience to outages and disaster events