To: Joint Chairs Assembly Member Amy Paulin, Assembly Member Michael Cusick, Assembly Member Steve Engelbright
From: State Senator Jessica Ramos, Chair of the Senate Labor Committee
RE: Role of State Authorities in Renewable Energy Development
Date: 28th of July, 2022
My name is Jessica Ramos, I represent the Queens neighborhoods of Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and parts of Astoria, Elmhurst, and Woodside. I was born and raised in this district, where many of my friends and neighbors grew up with chronic asthma. Hurricane Ida showed that ours is a frontline community in the climate crisis. I submit this written testimony to urge State Authorities to play a greater role in renewable energy development and to commend my partners in the Assembly for organizing this hearing to allow New Yorkers to testify on the urgent need for S6453C/A1466, the Build Public Renewables Act.
On July 5th, Governor Hochul signed S8648/A9598 - my bill with Assembly Labor Chair Latoya Joyner to redefine the term ‘covered renewable energy system’ and thereby expand the number of renewable energy projects that require a prevailing wage. Additionally, this year’s enacted budget earmarked approximately $75 million for climate workforce development efforts and secured a prevailing wage in the Environmental Bond Act. These steps will allow New York State to aggressively invest in infrastructure upgrades that will help us meet the CLCPA goal of 70% renewable energy by 2030, ensure our climate transition prioritizes family-sustaining jobs, and protect vulnerable frontline climate communities from the climate crisis.
As Chair of the Senate Labor Committee, I firmly believe that organized labor has a strong role to play in our fight against the climate crisis. The legislature has taken steps to ensure that our transition to a climate economy is a just one, one that pays family-sustaining wages while facilitating the development of a climate workforce. This approach to an educated and responsible transition means that our environmental goals and defense of organized labor go hand-in-hand. Our legislature has a record of protecting and defending labor standards, and given the opportunity, would continue that record as we expand publicly-owned renewable energy infrastructure.
Almost a year after Hurricane Ida devastated my district, my constituents are being squeezed from all sides by utility rate hikes, the rising cost of housing, and the threat of the impending hurricane season. Senate District 13 is a working class, frontline climate community that will benefit tremendously from the Build Public Renewables Act. Adding a publicly-owned competitor that focuses on renewable energy sources to the utility market will drive down costs for individual families while also allowing the state to create more green, union jobs.
I write today to add my voice to the many concerned New Yorkers who are desperate for our state to lead the nation in bold climate legislation. We cannot afford half-measures. Aggressively pursuing our climate goals is the only remaining option we have to protect what we love.