New York communities can tap $5 million to help make resilient, equitable economic transition from fossil fuel industries

On August 3, 2021, $5 million was allocated for the Just Transition Site Reuse Planning Program to facilitate site reuse planning services and support for communities facing fossil fuel power plant closures in New York communities.

The program will provide eligible communities with resources to begin charting a sustainable and economically viable path forward through site reuse planning services from designated experts, the development of a toolkit as a resource, and enhanced assistance for disadvantaged communities. This announcement supports former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo‘s nation-leading goal of a 100 percent zero-emissions electric grid by 2040 and a just transition under the under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Ensuring a just transition for communities as New York State grows its renewable energy future provides opportunities for communities hosting conventional energy infrastructure to proactively plan to address site reuse.

Under this new program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), New York State is providing vital support to help enhance locally based engagement and help improve community transition outcomes.

A Statewide Site Reuse Toolkit using the information from the site planning processes will be developed as an online resource to provide tools to help other communities facing or planning for site reuse. It will include information on local, regional, state, and federal programs to assist communities with economic development, brownfield reuse, and other aspects supporting successful site redevelopment.

Eligible communities are local governments that have a fossil fuel power plant located in their community, including those that have had a power plant close in the last five years, are facing current or future known closures, or are home to other operating fossil fuel facilities that commenced operations prior to 1990.

Applicants may apply for planning services valued up to $150,000. Services awarded will be scaled based on site characteristics, and areas where plant closures impact a disadvantaged community may qualify for additional assistance valued at up to $10,000.

Planning services may include, but are not limited to, site reuse planning, environmental assessments, economic analysis, demolition and abatement assessments, and public health impact evaluation.

For communities and plants that have already undertaken preliminary analyses, support under this program may also include next-phase steps that maximize community engagement and proper site reuse, including but not limited to a detailed infrastructure assessment, further environmental assessment, marketing and community engagement strategies, and workforce development strategies, in addition to other designated support as determined by NYSERDA and the site reuse experts.

New York’s transition to a clean power grid is well underway, combining a strong existing baseline of renewable facilities and a robust pipeline of new renewables already under contract. Together these efforts will power 50 percent of New York’s electricity once operational.

The services provided to communities under this program will also look to help communities position themselves to seek other support resources including any that may become available under the Biden Administration’s newly established Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.

New York State continues to invest in resources to ensure the impact of the closure of power plants on local communities will be mitigated to the fullest extent possible.

Additional financial assistance is available for eligible jurisdictions facing power plant closures through the State’s Electric Generation Facility Cessation Mitigation Program administered by Empire State Development. The program offers seven years of funding to aid in transition, and earlier this year, the state Public Service Commission adopted a stable mechanism that provides a longer-term funding source for the program should local communities continue to need that support.

If selected for the program, local governments must sign a participation agreement and appoint a project liaison to ensure community participation in planning the transition from a conventional energy facility and toward community-wide environmental and economic health. The liaison will work with NYSERDA to select and be matched with a designated site reuse planning expert from a pre-determined list of companies that were chosen through a competitive process.

Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis until August 5, 2024, or until funds are no longer available.

Photo of defunct Huntley Generating Station in Tonawanda, New York via Google Earth.

Apply for funding here.

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