ULYSSES, N.Y. — The Town of Ulysses has been recognized as a “Clean Energy Community” for its strides in solar projects and driving clean energy use. Ulysses is the first town in the Southern Tier to receive the designation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the designation recognizes the town’s leadership in reducing energy use.

“New York has established itself as a national leader in reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and I applaud the Town of Ulysses for taking actions to encourage solar and reduce its energy consumption,” Cuomo said in a news release. “The town serves as a model for communities across the state to reduce energy costs and create a cleaner, more sustainable future for its residents.”

The $16 million Clean Energy Communities initiative  supports local governments that implement strategies that help meet New York’s goal of having 50 percent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. To be eligible for the designation, communities must complete four of 10 clean energy actions.

According to a news release, the Town of Ulysses has completed the following energy actions:

  • Participated in a community-based Solarize Tompkins campaign to reduce solar project costs through joint purchasing;
  • Completed energy code enforcement training on best practices in energy code enforcement for code compliance officers and other municipal officials;
  • Streamlined local approval processes for solar projects through adoption of the New York State Unified Solar Permit; and
  • Benchmarked energy use of the Town’s municipal buildings.

Town of Ulysses Supervisor Elizabeth Thomas said working toward the Clean Energy Community designation emphasized the importance of collaboration and strong partnerships.

“As a small community with few resources, we found the support of the Clean Energy Community coordinator was immensely valuable in taking the time to guide us and provide answers to our questions. Our town is committed to reducing reliance on fossil fuels to help stem the causes of climate change by demonstrating that small municipalities can become Clean Energy Communities, too,” Thomas said in a statement.

Being named a Clean Energy Community comes with funding opportunities. Communities with fewer than 40,000 residents are eligible to apply for up to $100,000 “with no local cost share with the option of receiving up to 25 percent paid in advance to support additional clean energy projects.”

Though Ulysses is the first town in the Southern Tier to receive the designation, Tompkins County and the City of Binghamton have also been designated Clean Energy Communities.

Ithaca and Tompkins County were recently designated “Climate Smart Communities,” another designation from New York that recognizes communities combating climate change.

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.