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New York state governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced the first winners of the Commercial and Industrial Carbon Challenge.

The two winners, International Paper and Recycled Energy Development-Rochester LLC, are receiving approximately $8 million to reduce carbon emissions.

The two companies are expected to reduce nearly 850,000 tons of carbon emissions combined over the next 15 years, the equivalent of taking approximately 12,000 cars off the road per year.

In addition, $15 million will be made available to buildings owners through the second round of the challenge.

The funding will be awarded through the State's Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process.

Projects will be awarded between $500,000 and $5 million to deploy clean energy projects. The deadline to apply  for the second round is July 26, 2019.

The aim is to combat climate change by achieving the state's carbon emission reduction target of 40% by 2030.

Launched in May 2018 and administered by NYSERDA, the C&I Carbon Challenge is designed to to help large commercial and industrial energy users to reduce their energy use.

Commercial and industrial buildings account for 33% of the energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. 

The funds are coming from the state's 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund. New York State Senate Energy Chairman Kevin Parker said, "Innovation through competition is the premise underlying the C&I Carbon Challenge. I would like to offer my sincerest congratulations to International Paper and Recycled Energy Development-Rochester, LLC. Their commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 850,000 tons over the next 15 years is just an example of how competitive, market-based solutions are the key to achieving New York's climate goals. I would also like to thank NYSERDA for administering this vital program, and would encourage the development of similar initiatives designed to address climate change in as many ways as possible."