New Castle, NY has been named the first small locality to be designated a Clean Energy Community by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
The award is earmarked for communities with fewer than 40,000 residents. New Castle, which is in Westchester County, completed four of 10 high impact clean energy actions, according to the press release. As a designee, it can apply for as much as $100,000 for additional energy projects. No matching is required.
New Castle won the designation by implementing a plan to aggregate business and residential energy demand for bulk purchase of clean and renewable energy; establishing an Energy NY Finance Program; approved a benchmarking policy and adopted a state program for streamlining solar projects.
Small entities – be they communities, facilities or businesses – face unique challenges in energy efficiency. Implementing technology and programs is not always as straight forward as using smaller versions of things aimed at bigger entities. The economies of scale may be different. Simply, what makes sense in New York City may not be viable in New Castle. In addition, manpower is an issue. Often, small businesses, facilities or communities don’t have the specially trained personnel that generally are found in more expansive environments.
GreenTech Media described the small business dynamic in a piece late last year. In essence the scenario was fitting a round peg in a square hole:
Many ESCOs have tried to apply the model they know best — managing large commercial and industrial efficiency projects — to the small-business sector, even though many small businesses are more similar to residential customers than large commercial customers. The large overhead costs and long customer lifecycle required to design, negotiate and finance large commercial projects is incompatible with the smaller returns to be earned from each small-business customer.
The piece suggests that efforts are being made to confront the challenge.
The situation is much the same on the multifamily dwelling residential building front. Energy efficiency is an accepted goal, but getting there is not easy for smaller buildings. Habitat describes the Community Retrofit NYC program in New York City. The key is that it helps owners succeed:
“There are a fair number of incentives,” says Laura Tajima, a policy adviser in the mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “But small buildings and mom-and-pops don’t always have the resources. Often boards and building owners feel overwhelmed, so what we’re trying to do is curate resources for them, so they know who to go to, who to talk to. We’re directing people to the right resources.”
A reality is that small entities, collectively, have the most potential energy efficiencies (and revenue for those who unlock it). The advent of modern tools, such as the Internet and, subsequently, the Internet of Things, makes it possible to unlock some of these efficiencies.