New York: Just Transition Site Reuse Planning Program

New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $5 million for the Just Transition Site Reuse Planning Program to facilitate site reuse planning services and support for communities facing fossil fuel power plant closures.  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 Governor 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.

“This administration is empowering local governments and residents to fight climate change with resources that will help amplify their voices in the clean energy transition,” Governor Cuomo said.  “This program will lead to greater engagement from the community to chart a greener future that strengthens economic growth, particularly disadvantaged communities that have been disproportionally impacted by harmful emissions in the past.”

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 utilizing 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.

Doreen M. Harris, President & CEO, NYSERDA, said, “Communities across New York deserve a just transition, and we are taking a proactive approach to equip them with the support and resources needed for effective planning and reuse. Helping communities build a sustainable, economically viable, and environmentally friendly future is a priority as we move to a clean electric grid to meet our climate and clean energy goals.”

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.  To apply, click here. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis until August 5, 2024, or untilfunds are no longer available.  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.

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.

Bergman Associates, P.C. was selected through a competitive process to help develop the statewide toolkit.  The toolkit, individual site reuse plans, and community strategies under consideration will seek to reflect and align with the issues and opportunities for site reuse identified by the Just Transition Working Group, and presented to the Climate Action Council on April 12, 2021, as required by the Climate Act.