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What’s NYSERDA?

You might call it the great big energy-saving machine. That’s the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), a corporation created in 1975 under Article 8, Title 9 of the State Public Authorities Law through the reconstitution of the New York State Atomic and Space Development Authority.

“One of our goals is to build and facilitate relationships between building-performance specialists – the contractor, if you will – and New York multifamily property-owners and managers,” says spokeswoman Colleen Ryan. “This allows for easy, cost-effective access to the adoption of available energy-efficiency services and financial incentives.”

NYSERDA’s earliest efforts were aimed at research and development with the goal of reducing the state’s gas consumption. Later projects focused on energy consumption, renewable resources, and innovative technologies. Currently, NYSERDA is primarily funded by state ratepayers through the System Benefits Charge (SBC), established on May 20, 1996. These SBC funds were allocated towards energy-efficiency programs, research and development initiatives, low-income energy programs, and environmental-disclosure activities.

Part of this funding went into the creation of New York Energy Smart, which helps to maintain momentum for the state’s efforts to develop competitive markets for energy efficiency; demand management; outreach and education services; research development and demonstration; low-income services; and to provide direct economic and environmental benefits to New Yorkers. The SBC was first extended through June 30, 2006, and most recently until June 30, 2011.

NYSERDA tries to facilitate change through the widespread development and use of innovative technologies to improve the state’s energy, economic, and environmental well-being. Incentives are the state’s main carrot in its plan to make 25 percent of all power used in New York come from renewable resources, which the state is mandated to do by 2013.

What that means is that NYSERDA will arrange to do “energy audits” to see how your building uses electricity and gas, and what you can do to be more efficient – such as installing insulation or double-pane windows to trap heat or solar panels to generate building energy. The authority then works with lenders who offer low-interest New York Energy Smart Loans.

The main websites – nyserda.org and powernaturally.org – seem to require a law degree with a minor in finance in order to be understood. Go instead to getenergysmart.org, hit the button that reads “Multifamily (5+ Units)” and from there click “Multifamily Performance Program – Existing Buildings” within the text. That’ll take you to an easy-to-understand page with all the basics, plus contact information.

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