In 2013, Erie County participated in a western New York regional sustainability planning process that established targets for emissions reductions, increased renewable energy production, and increased energy efficiency. Currently, more than 66% of western New York’s electricity generation is from renewable sources, nearly all of which is hydro. One of the regional goals is to increase the share of renewables to 75% by 2030. To attain this goal, the region needs significant solar components both at the distributed and the utility-scale levels.
Erie County sources most of its power from New York State Electricity and Gas (NYSEG) and Niagara Mohwak (National Grid). In 2015, the average residential rates for the two utilities were 12.00 and 13.31 cents/Kwh, respectively. There has only been limited progress on the region’s renewable energy targets to date. However, there is now greater alignment between several state incentive programs and increased interest in taking sustainability actions at the municipal level. For example, the city of Buffalo, with support from the New York Power Authority through
its Build Smart NY program, recently completed a city energy master plan.
- Erie County is working to engage in Community Choice energy planning as a method of driving economic development through clean energy and sustainability.
- The county plans to rapidly prototype community shared solar in a low-income neighborhood that struggles with insecurity of basic needs (e.g. energy, food, housing).
- The county lacks a structured convening table for local collaboration around clean energy policies and actions.
- There are difficulties in developing a workable strategy to “pilot” experiments to test ideas about clean energy adoption across communities.