Senate Passes Energy Efficiency Plan to Lower Costs for Homeowners & Businesses

 

The Senate Democratic Majority has passed a legislative package that will significantly reduce the costs of energy for homeowners and businesses statewide, putting money back into the pockets of families and making businesses more competitive.
 
Not only is the adoption of energy efficiency programs beneficial economically but such programs help the State to achieve its environmental goals by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants, improving quality of life throughout the state.
 
The Majority’s legislation:

 
Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D/WF-35th District) said, “The increase of energy costs threaten the viability of small businesses across the State of New York. I introduced the Small Business Energy Assistance & Advocacy Services Program to provide small businesses with the resources necessary to take full advantage of the programs available - including conservation measures, alternative energy sources, co-generation and net-metering, as well as assistance with financing - to reduce the financial burden of energy costs.”
 
Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) said, "One of the most insightful statements I have ever heard spoken is that the most efficient kilowatt hour that exists is the one you don't use. We must do everything we can to increase the energy efficiency of our state so we can reduce its carbon footprint. The home energy conservation legislation that is coming before the senate today will help to improve the energy efficiency of new homes in New York so that they use, and lose, less energy, reducing waste, as well as overall consumption."
 
Senator Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan) said, “Increasing the energy efficiency of consumer products is an easy and effective way to cut families’ electricity bills and reduce greenhouse gases.  This is a big win for wallets and the environment, and I thank the Senate Majority for passing this legislation.”
 
Senator Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) said, “The purpose of my legislation, Green Jobs-On Bill Financing, is to help working families to afford the sort of weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades to their houses that will lower their heating and cooling costs, and help them save the environment. Together with Green Jobs-Green New York, which I cosponsored and helped pass last year, these environment-friendly home retrofits will lead to the creation of thousands of green collar jobs in our communities, and help us to help each other. I am proud to be working with my colleagues on this Energy Efficiency Plan, so that New York will continue to be a leader in innovation and renewable energy.”
 
The Small Business Energy Assistance & Advocacy Services Program
This legislation establishes a “small business energy assistance and advocacy services program” within the Division for Small Business to represent the interests of small businesses in the formulation of New York’s energy policies.  Under the provisions of this bill, the newly created program solicits input from the small business community concerning energy assistance needs and develop recommendations for government agencies to respond to those problems programmatically. The program would coordinate with relevant public authorities, the Public Service Commission and utilities to include small businesses in the development of energy assistance programs, provide small businesses with information about existing programs and make referrals to energy assistance specialists. 
 
Rising energy costs throughout the state have had a significant impact on the competitiveness and growth of New York’s small businesses. The savings opportunities that are attainable through conservation measures, alternative energy sources, co-generation and net metering, and financing assistance, all require substantial investments of time, money and effort.  Unlike larger businesses, small businesses often lack the resources to makes these commitments and take full advantage of available programs to assist them in lowering their energy bills.
 
Upgrading Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential & Commercial Buildings
Studies have shown that 45 to 55-percent of homes do not perform to efficiency code standards.

The provisions of this bill establish a far more aggressive and proactive method by which to ensure that all of New York’s buildings are meeting efficiency codes, and in the process reduce costs for homeowners, create jobs and improve the state’s environment. In fact, homes can be built and tested to meet these new standards for less than 1-percent of their overall construction costs, but at the same time save homeowners tens of thousands of dollars in energy bills over the life of the home. Of equal importance is this bill’s promising job creation potential.  A report recently released by the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College found that the code amendments adopted by several Long Island municipalities directly led to the creation of new green collar jobs; the number of Home Energy Rating System (HERS) raters on Long Island increased from two or three to 55 since the adoption of the new standards.
 
On-Bill Financing for Green Jobs/Green New York
This legislation enhances last year’s Green Jobs/Green NY (GJ-GNY) program by providing for on-bill financing to assist families with payment and financing much-needed weatherization projects on their homes and small businesses.
 
Last year’s GJ-GNY I law set up a Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative-funded (RGGI) revolving loan fund to pay for home and business retrofits. There is no cost to state or local governments. This year’s GJ-GNY II allows consumers and businesses to tap into the fund up-front, and to pay back loans automatically on their utility bills using the savings from reduced energy use.
 
Once fully implemented with on-bill financing, GJ-GNY will significantly reduce energy costs for up to one-million property owners, revitalize economically distressed communities, and create more than 14,000 permanent new construction and skilled labor jobs that with revitalize New York’s “Green Collar” economy. With these new skills, New York will be able to afford and undertake energy-efficiency retrofits and broader non-energy retrofits, such as low-flow water fixtures and green roofs.
 
By targeting the program to middle-income homeowners, GJ-GNY serves homeowners who make too much to qualify for Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) assistance money but don’t make enough to afford energy saving retrofits. Upstate, where the median income is lower, the cut-off for WAP is so low that most people can’t qualify. But those disenfranchised New Yorkers will be able to qualify for GJ-GNY, and on-bill financing will assure them better access to financing programs and rates by attracting the broadest possible variety of financing and private sector involvement.
 
Appliance & Equipment Energy Efficiency Standards
This legislation authorizes the Secretary of State, in consultation with the President of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, to establish energy efficiency performance standards for certain consumer products, including portable light fixtures, bottle-type water dispensers, commercial hot food holding cabinets, portable electric spas and residential pool pumps. The more efficient that consumer products are, the less electricity they use, which means less demand for the energy of electric generating facilities that burn fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases.  Moreover, consumer products that consume less electricity help individual consumers save money on their electric bills by lowering their overall demand for electricity.