76 West opens next round of competition for clean energy companies

The 76West Clean Energy Competition has launched another round, accepting applications from “emerging clean energy companies” that are willing to relocate to or expand connections with the Southern Tier in exchange for a prize of up to $1 million.

Applications will be accepted through March 2, and 20 finalists will be brought to the Southern Tier in the spring for mentoring, and compete in June at a business pitch competition. Four winners are to be announced in the fall. One of the four will win $1 million and three others will get $500,000 each. Fewer winners will be picked this year so the size of the prizes can be increased.

The competition began in 2016 as part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Green New Deal, but its success in generating jobs and economic activity in the Southern Tier has resulted in another $20 million in funding to run the competition for another four years.

“The 76West competition is not only creating jobs and economic development in the Southern Tier, it is building excitement within the entrepreneurial ecosystem that New York is the place to be for innovation” said Alicia Barton, president and CEO of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which leads the competition. “As more extreme weather events wreak havoc on New York, Governor Cuomo’s commitment to supporting clean energy solutions, such as those developed by 76West winners, is vital to helping communities throughout the state and beyond become more resilient.”

Some previous winners include East Rochester’s EkoStinger, which makes attachments to tractor-trailer trucks that improve their aerodynamics and reduce energy consumption. With five months of being award $1 million in 2018, EkoStinger opened a new plant in Horseheads.

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NYSERDA and PathStone part of economic recovery project in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is getting a $4.5 million boost in its economic development arm, with a public-private project aimed at accelerating solar business on the island.

The package involves $3.8 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to train workers in solar energy, as well as energy storage and construction. Additional funds come from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, PathStone, and the Solar Foundation.

The project follows previous efforts by the state, under the leadership of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated the island along with much of its power transmission system.

“This collaborative program will equip Puerto Rican businesses and workers with the innovative training and tools necessary to build a more resilient Island that is prepared to face 21st century climate challenges,” said Alicia Barton, CEO and president of NYSERDA.
PathStone, which is based in Rochester but whose economic development programs reach several states and Puerto Rico, “has managed to help hundreds of business owners and individuals in Puerto Rico to improve economic self-sufficiency and quality of life of individuals and communities through entrepreneurial training, technical assistance, financing access as well as workforce development activities,” said Alex Castro, COO of PathStone. The program will operate out of PathStone’s offices in Ponce.

NYSERDA’s $30,000 contribution will help pay for instructors from the State University of New York to train Puerto Rican businesses and workers in the solar field for a year.

Other components of the program include developing a Puerto Rican Solar Accelerator to help improve financing, create a workforce pipeline and develop two solar and storage microgrid demonstration projects.  Additionally, the program provides technical assistance to indigenous businesses so they can play a role in the redevelopment of Puerto Rico.

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State and private colleges reach agreement on clean energy campaign

New York State and private colleges are linking arms to support cleaner energy.

The state announced on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding between the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, representing 100 institutions.

“Private colleges in New York are already at the forefront of research and development related to climate change and energy efficiency so we are excited to bring our expertise together with NYSERDA’s in this unique partnership,” said Mary Beth Labate, president of the CICU. “There is no issue of greater urgency or magnitude facing our state and our nation than climate change. It is only by bringing public and private resources together to collaborate that we will make progress toward sustainable solutions.”

The memo says the state agency and college association will work together to

  • Establish an energy committee of CICU volunteers and others to identify energy issues and opportunities for member colleges and universities
  • Create an inventory of the commission members’ carbon emissions.
  • Release a webinar series of NYSERDA programming for member colleges and universities
  • Develop and pilot clean energy and energy efficiency programs for the higher education sector
  • Promote NYSERDA workforce development and training programs in the college market.

Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA said, “This MOU is another major step forward in Governor Cuomo’s steadfast commitment to decarbonizing the grid and bringing clean energy solutions for all New Yorkers. Our collaborative partnership will help New York State remain at the forefront of the battle against climate change and ensure all colleges and universities and their students across the state have the opportunity to benefit from the energy transition.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has set a goal for the state of zero carbon emissions by 2040 as part of New York’s New Green Deal, aimed at creating jobs while battling climate change.

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State report shows clean energy jobs growing fastest

Jobs in the clean energy arena are growing faster than the general economy, according to statistics shared by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Tuesday.

Growth in this area, which includes everything from installing solar panels to adding insulation to improve energy efficiency, reached 8.9 percent between 2016 and 2018, according to the state’s 2019 Clean Energy Industry Report. That rate was more than double the  rest of the economy, which experienced a 3.4 percent growth rate.

Green energy in New York has been a special focus of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has set ambitious goals for switching the state from fossil fuels to renewable and less polluting forms of energy.

Alicia Barton, NYSERDA president and CEO, said “Under Governor Cuomo, New York has staked out a clear global leadership position in advancing a plan to combat climate change and advance clean energy, and this report demonstrates that those efforts are already paying off. “

Green energy jobs employed 159,000 workers in 2018, NYSERDA said.

Key statistics:

  • Most clean energy jobs – 77 percent – fell in the area of energy efficiency.
  • In this fast-growing sector, jobs in grid modernization and energy storage technology outpaced all others, growing by 35 percent.
  • More than 80 percent of employers in clean energy said they’re having a hard time filling the jobs they have available. To that end, the state is supporting training programs for such jobs and has launched job fairs around the state to seek more people to work in the industry.


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Paradigm one of 19 finalists in 76West competition

Rochester’s Paradigm Environmental Services Inc. is one of 19 finalists in New York state’s 76West Clean Energy competition.

The competition offers $2.5 million in prizes to companies that will build or expand clean energy business in New York’s Southern Tier, or create a partnership with a company, such as a supply-chain agreement, to help develop the economy in that part of the state. The initial cut includes four international finalists, including one from Turkey and three from Canada, spreading from Toronto to Vancouver.

“The innovative technologies offered by this year’s semifinalists have tremendous potential to expand the region’s success and support New York’s path to carbon neutrality under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” said Alicia Barton, president and CEO of the New York State Energy and Research Development Agency. “I look forward to watching them advance through the competition.”
Finalists will be paired with a mentor and then make a pitch to a panel of judges at Binghamton University Aug. 7-8. The judges will make a recommendation on six finalists who will all win cash awards: $1 million for the top contestant, $500,000 for second prize and $250,000 for each of the other finalists.

Each company will be paired with a mentor before pitching their companies to a panel of judges Aug. 7-8 at Binghamton University. The judges will then recommend the six finalists who will receive a total of $2.5 million in prizes. Winners will be revealed in the fall.

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Power producer at Eastman Business Park wins $5 million in state carbon challenge

 The utility company that modernized energy production at the former Kodak Park and turned it away from coal has won $5 million from a carbon-reduction contest run by New York State.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Friday that Recycled Energy Development-Rochester LLC, known as RED-Rochester, was one of the two winners in the first round of the Commercial and Industrial Carbon Challenge.

International Paper in Ticonderoga also won $2.8 million for its reduction efforts. The companies have committed to reducing a total of nearly 850,000 tons of carbon in the next 15 years. RED-Rochester installed four natural gas boilers and converted an old coal-fueled boiler to natural gas to curtail carbon emissions while serving business clients at Eastman Business Park.

“Reducing carbon emissions is a critical piece of New York’s comprehensive strategy to combat climate change on all fronts,” Cuomo said. “We are proud to invest in New York companies that are committed to advancing clean energy projects in support of the State’s green economy and path to a carbon-neutral economy.”

According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, commercial and industrial buildings account for 33 percent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in New York.

“The Carbon Challenge offers a unique opportunity to simultaneously reduce CO2 and invest in the long-term competitiveness and sustainability of Eastman Business Park,” said RED-Rochester President Craig E. Bennett. “It furthers our commitment to the environment and enhances our ability to attract and retain new industrial customers which create jobs and increases the tax base.”

In the next round of the carbon challenge, NYSERDA is making $15 million available for the competition. The deadline to apply is July 26. Information is available on the NYSERDA website.

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NOHMS to work with RIT on new batteries

NOHMs Technologies Inc. is working to develop batteries that are optimized for indoor use and conform to state building and fire codes and that also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

With funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, Technology and Business Innovation group, NOHMs will create optimized electrolyte formulations that overcome traditional barriers to commercialization associated with ionic liquid electrolyte, including performance and cost.

The final goal of the project is to demonstrate an energy storage system that meets performance and to establish a commercialization path for the new materials, including manufacturing process and cost assessment, market studies and regulatory requirements, as well as estimates of greenhouse gas reductions.

“Since NOHMs Technologies’ founding, NYSERDA has supported our work to develop and commercialize materials to enable high-energy, longer-lasting and more durable batteries,” NOHMs CEO Nathan Ball said. “We’re pleased to draw on our experience developing products that could support New York State in meeting its energy storage targets.”

A prototype battery will be built and undergo rigorous performance and safety testing against regulatory standards for indoor batteries, officials said. NOHMs also will collaborate with experts from Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability to evaluate potential savings of greenhouse gas emissions compared with the current grid energy mix, analyze regulatory and market requirements for urban electrical energy storage and establish a path to commercialization.

The project is part of New York’s target of 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030.

NOHMs was founded in 2010 by researchers from Cornell University seeking to commercialize lithium sulfur batteries they had developed at the university.

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NOHMS to create batteries with environment in mind

NOHMS Technologies Inc. will begin developing batteries with the electrical grid and climate stress in mind.

The Rochester manufacturer—established in 2011 as a spinout from Cornell University—has received funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Technology and Business Innovation group to create optimized electrolyte formulations that overcome traditional barriers to commercialization, including performance and cost.

The final goal of the project is to demonstrate an energy storage system that meets performance goals and to establish a commercialization path for the new materials, including manufacturing process and cost assessment, market studies and regulatory requirements, as well as estimates of greenhouse gas reductions.

Company officials said a prototype battery will be built and undergo performance and safety testing against regulatory standards for indoor batteries. NOHMS also will collaborate with experts from Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability to evaluate potential savings of greenhouse gas emissions compared with the current grid energy mix.

“Since NOHMs Technologies’ founding, NYSERDA has supported our work to develop and commercialize materials to enable high-energy, longer-lasting, and more durable batteries,” said NOHMS CEO Nathan Ball in a statement. “We’re pleased to draw on our experience developing products that could support New York State in meeting its energy storage targets.”

Based in Eastman Business Park, NOHMs provides materials and chemistry for longer-lasting, safer and more sustainable lithium-ion batteries, and partners with automotive, battery and chemical manufacturing companies to develop and integrate custom solutions for automotive and mobile device products.

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State offers tax breaks and money for energy technology to farmers

New York farmers are eligible for two Christmas presents from the state: money for clean energy technologies and a 10-year extension of a tax waiver for farm buildings.

New York State Energy and Research Development Authority announced on Tuesday that $19 million is being made available to help accelerate the use of anaerobic digesters on farms. The digesters siphon methane gas off manure and other farm wastes and use it to run turbines that make electricity.

Currently, according to NYSERDA, there are 23 such digesters licensed to operate on New York farms and seven more under construction. Meanwhile, there are thousands of farms. The fund for clean energy makes nearly $8 million available for new digesters, $8 million for upgrading those installed before 2015, and $3 million for other technologies that conserve energy use on farms.

“Governor Cuomo’s emphasis on providing funding to help bridge the gap between the agricultural sector and energy efficiency will help farms across the state reduce their energy usage while continuing to provide environmental benefits for their local communities,” said Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA.

Information on how to apply for digester funds is available on the NYSERDA website.

Also earlier in the week, Cuomo announced that the state is renewing a property tax exemption that applies to new buildings necessary for agricultural production, such as temporary greenhouses, dairy barns, and arenas for exercising horses. The existing law was due to expire Jan. 1, 2019.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said the measure “extends a crucial tax break to our farmers and growers, who have historically relied on the exemption to improve operations, expand businesses and offset other expenses.”

State officials estimated the exemption has saved farmers a total of $112.8 million. Information on the program is available online from the state tax department.

David Fisher, president of New York Farm Bureau, applauded the extension, saying “The tax savings is especially important in today’s tough agricultural economy.”

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Two Rochester universities win $1 million each in energy conservation contest

Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester both won $1 million grants in a statewide college competition to develop energy saving and sustainability projects.

Suffolk County Community College on Long Island won the third prize offered in the Energy to Lead Competition, which is part of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s REV Campus Challenge.

Colleges were tasked with coming up with projects that would help meet Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s climate change goals for reducing greenhouse gases and moving to renewable energy resources, while also reducing energy demands.

“This is about sustainable campuses,” said Patrick O’Shei, director of market development at the New York Energy Research and Development Authority. “This is about curriculum and research.”

The three projects were:

  • A program to adjust ventilation in rooms in RIT’s Golisano Sustainability Institute so that they reflect the number of people in the rooms, factoring in peak usage data and saving energy. The program will be shared with Monroe Community College and other RIT buildings, and used to teach students in sustainability and building maintenance, said RIT President David Munson. Some of the cost savings will be used to encourage other sustainability projects by students and faculty, he said.
  • UR will construct a four-story building with a near-net zero use of energy, employing a new solar array on the campus and energy storage technology in the building. The building’s energy solar system will be replicable for use elsewhere, said Wendi Heinzelman, dean of UR’s Hajiim School of Engineering and Applied Science. She said the solar array will be built in 2019 to add to UR’s energy profile and the building is expected to be completed in 2020.
  • The Long Island community college will also build a net-zero building, the first in Suffolk County and on a State University of New York campus, said W. Troy Tucker, associate dean of sponsored programs at SCCC.

O’Shei said such competitions aren’t just about saving energy; they also boost the economy, provide incentives for new ways to learn, and engage both students and the community.

The three schools were selected from more than 30 participating colleges.

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First electric vehicle charger rebate available

Blink DC fast charger (photo by ECOtality)
Blink DC fast charger
(photo by ECOtality)

The State of New York has made $5 million available as part of the first rebate designed for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations.

Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the new Charge Ready NY initiative provides a $4,000 rebate per charging port for public or private employers, building owners, municipalities and nonprofit organizations to install Level 2 charging stations.

Level 2 charging stations provide up to 25 miles of electric range per hour of charging.

“New York continues to lead the nation in reducing our carbon footprint by aggressively investing in clean transportation methods,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “By expanding public access to electric vehicle charging stations, this program will make it more affordable for New Yorkers to make the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, resulting in a cleaner, greener New York for all.”

The rebate is designed for public parking lots that have at least 10 parking spaces and are open to the public at least 12 hours per day, five days per week. Workplaces that have at least 10 parking spaces that serve a minimum of 15 employees who work at or near the lot, such as office buildings and schools, also are eligible to apply for the rebate. Multi-unit housing facilities qualify for the rebate if they have at least eight parking spaces that primarily serve a building with five or more housing units.

“Through initiatives like Charge Ready NY, Gov. Cuomo is helping New Yorkers join the clean transportation revolution that is taking place in our state,” NYSERDA CEO Alicia Barton said. “Combined with the Drive Clean Rebate, which provides rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles, this initiative is helping reduce emissions by making cleaner modes of transportation a possibility for more and more drivers.”

The installation of charging stations for public use supports the governor’s ambitious clean energy goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. The Charge Ready NY rebate can save up to 80 percent of a typical charging station’s installation cost.

“The buildout of an extensive electric car charging network is key to getting more New Yorkers to drive low-emission vehicles and bringing New York State that much closer to its clean energy goals,” New York Power Authority President and CEO Gil Quiniones said. “Our new EVolve NY electric vehicle initiative focuses on addressing infrastructure barriers and our ongoing joint efforts with NYSERDA will help bring more fast chargers to qualifying businesses and nonprofits through our workplace charging programs across the state.

Announced in May, EVolve NY is a $250 million investment by the NYPA to expand an electric vehicle initiative. The initial phase of funding directs $40 million to be allocated to three primary new programs through the end of 2019, including interstate fast chargers, airport fast chargers near John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports and EV model communities.

In March 2017, the state launched its Drive Clean Rebate program, which provides residents with a rebate of up to $2,000 for the purchase or lease of a new plug-in hybrid or battery electric care. More than 6,600 New Yorkers have received rebates in the last year for 35 different types of cars; since its launch, more than 9,000 New York residents have received rebates totaling more than $12 million.

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State to hold clean transportation listening sessions

cars highways city aerial-view-architecture-bridges-681335A number of state departments are seeking to engage residents and businesses through upcoming listening sessions on clean transportation.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Department of Transportation (DOT) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will host seven listening sessions in locations across the state to help advance a cleaner, safer and more reliable low-carbon transportation future.

The catch? None will be held in Rochester.

Still, for those interested in attending, two sessions will be held Aug. 16 at Erie Community College in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville.

“The state Department of Transportation is pleased to be part of this effort, joining with other agencies and stakeholders to identify transportation enhancements that will facilitate economic growth and improve air quality for decades to come,” said DOT Acting Commissioner Paul Karas in a statement.

The clean transportation listening sessions are designed to engage stakeholders with diverse interests and concerns in a discussion of the economic and social considerations for deploying clean transportation options, opportunities to enhance environmental and public health benefits and how low-carbon transportation can enhance quality of life and boost economic competitiveness.

“In addition to our full commitment to fight the extremely irresponsible rollbacks proposed by the federal government, we are working with other states and key stakeholders to maintain our stringent emission standards, ensuring we continue to protect the health of New Yorkers while attracting the clean energy jobs of tomorrow,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, referring to the recent Trump administration rollback on automotive fuel efficiency standards.

Seggos noted that emissions from cars and trucks are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York, amounting to more than one-third of the state’s total.

“This policy discussion is crucial to maintaining momentum toward the governor’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gases 40 percent by 2030,” Seggos said.

The listening sessions build on New York’s comprehensive, multi-agency clean transportation efforts to make electric vehicles (EV) more affordable and accessible. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced a $250 million EV expansion initiative called Evolve NY. In addition to state funding, the program will seek to create private sector partnerships through 2025 to aggressively accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles statewide. Cuomo has said he wants to launch 10,000 EV charging stations by 2021.

“We have seen in New York an increasing number of consumers choosing cleaner transportation alternatives as part of the state’s comprehensive approach to tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton said. “We look forward to working with interested stakeholders who have a commitment like we do to building a cleaner transportation infrastructure that will help preserve our environment for decades to come.”

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NYSERDA looking to boost clean transportation technologies

nyserda-logoUp to $5 million is being made available for transportation-related clean technology projects, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority said Friday.

NYSERDA will award the funding as part of a two-step competitive process for proposals that include innovative clean transportation technologies and strategies to improve operations and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for public transit systems statewide.

“This funding is part of Gov. Cuomo’s comprehensive clean transportation strategy, which is driving transformation throughout the transportation sector to reduce emissions and make it easier than ever to ride clean and electric,” NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton said in a news release. “These projects are a critical component for advancing solutions to some of our most pressing transportation efficiency and operations challenges while improving ridership experiences for New Yorkers.”

Funding is available through the state’s 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund. Some $18.5 million will be made available in multiple rounds of funding for projects to increase efficiency in public transit systems through 2022.

For the current awards, applicants must submit concept papers focusing on new or underutilized solutions that can help transit agencies make tangible improvements to bus and rail operations while achieving energy savings.

The transportation sector is one of the largest producers of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the state, officials said. As a result, New York has a number of programs designed to reduce emissions, including its Drive Clean Rebate initiative, which provides state residents with rebates of up to $2,000 for the purchase of a new or leased electric car.

Since the launch of the Drive Clean program, more than 6,600 New Yorkers have received rebates, totaling more than $7.5 million.

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Rochester area companies dominate 76West clean energy contest

Five Rochester-area companies are among the 20 finalists in the 76West Clean Energy Competition, vying for $2.5 million in prize money.

New York State Energy Research and Development Agency announced the finalists today (Friday, June 29).

The five were among 152 applicants from more than 12 countries and 27 states. As part of the competition, finalists will be paired with mentors and then pitch their companies to a panel of judges in  the next round of the competition at Cornell University July 31 to Aug. 1.

The five local companies are:

  • Crystal Creek Organics, a Rochester-area startup that extracts value-added products, such as fertilizer, from waste streams.
  • EkoStinger, an East Rochester company that makes attachments for the underside of tractor trailers that cuts fuel consumption, stabilizes the trailers and reduces road spray.
  • Molecular Glasses, a Rochester company that has created semiconductor materials to move ahead organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology.
  • Tyll Solar, a Henrietta startup focusing on research and development of solar technology.
  • WexEnergy, a Rochester company that makes skins mounted on windows to make them more energy efficient without the cost of replacing windows.

Prizes of $250,000, $500,000 or $1 million are awarded to each of the top six competitors. Winners must either move to the Southern Tier or establish a direct connection with an entity in that area in the form of a supply chain or other jobs-creating effort. The competition is linked to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Southern Tier Soaring initiative to promote economic development in that area.

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State provides $15 million in grants for energy grid modernization projects

pexels-photo-421888The state is setting aside $15 million to fund projects that will modernize New York’s power grid through renewable energy supplies, efficiency and overall performance.

Energy entrepreneurs have until July 18 to submit concept papers for the competitive awards in these four areas: research studies, engineering studies, product development and demonstration projects. All should be aimed at “developing innovative cybersecurity and data analytics or advanced planning, operations, and forecasting tools.” The state will invite some of those concepts to be fleshed out into full proposals for additional consideration.

A key component of any proposal should be explaining how the project will help the state meet its goal of having 50 percent of its power coming from renewable sources by 2030, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, which is overseeing the modernization initiative.

Specifications for the proposals are available online at the NYSERDA site.

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