RenewableNY combined project management and small grants to encourage industrial companies in New York City to implement energy efficiency projects.
In 2005, the New York Industrial Retention Network (NYIRN), now a part of the Pratt Center for Community Development, launched an initiative that combined project management and small grants to encourage industrial companies in New York City to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Projects ranged from simple lighting upgrades to more complex solar energy systems, cogeneration units, energy efficient processing equipment, and other measures. The projects leveraged an additional $2 million in funds from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and other sources that in many instances would not have occurred without NYIRN’s grant.
NYIRN allocated a total of nearly $1 million to 39 companies. Grants were allocated according to select criteria including the number of employees, annual energy consumption, cost of potential project, and projected energy and cost savings; and NYIRN made the grant commitment before the company underwent the audit. From NYIRN’s perspective, there was no risk that the commitment would not be substantiated by the audit since some measures were obviously needed (such as lighting improvements, insulation and other air-sealing measures). From the company’s perspective, having the commitment and knowing that some energy efficiency measures were going to be funded and implemented helped with the decision to undertake an audit. Project management was provided to help companies undertake and complete their projects. NYIRN staff visited each facility, and was in regular contact with companies, as well as the energy contractors, to facilitate project completion. RenewableNY helped companies identify energy efficiency measures tailored to their financial and energy needs; connect with energy auditors and contractors; competitively bid projects, and access available NYSERDA incentives.
RenewableNY raised awareness about opportunities for energy efficiency, assumed some of the management or administrative burdens and provided seed funding to both close any gaps, and provided greater certainty of return on time and investment. As a result of this assistance, RenewableNY achieved real impacts for businesses and helped the city meet its ambitious goal to reduce carbon emissions. RenewableNY also demonstrated that a simplified grant program that provides both upfront commitment of funds and project management support can be successful in addressing a long-acknowledged obstacle in energy efficiency: how to get businesses to invest in energy-efficiency capital improvements now that will save them money in the long run. Such a program could be the determining factor for some companies when deciding whether to undertake energy efficiency projects. The RenewableNY model presented an economical, technically-feasible strategy with an immediate impact.
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