June 16, 2009

Assembly Passes Green Jobs/Green New York Program

Bipartisan Legislation Will Promote Economic Growth and Environmental Protection

To meet the twin goals of reducing New York's energy consumption and preparing the workforce for the developing "green-energy" industry, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb announced today Assembly passage of the Green Jobs/Green New York program, which would retrofit homes across the state for energy efficiency while creating jobs over the next five years.

The Assembly leaders commended Energy Committee Chair Kevin Cahill and Energy Committee Ranking Member Tom O'Mara for their direction on this very important legislation authorizing the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to create and administer a Green Jobs/Green New York program. The program will provide funding to communities, homes, small businesses and not-for-profits to help revitalize the economy in an energy-independent and environmentally responsible way (A.8901A).

"With this legislation, the Assembly was able to simultaneously address two major issues through the Green Jobs/Green New York initiative," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "Our goal is to create new jobs in the green-energy sector and make the important changes that will get our economy and our environment back on track. The Green Jobs/Green New York program is an example of federal stimulus dollars at work and will put New York at the forefront of dealing with environmental and economic challenges through innovation and resourcefulness."

"Now, more than ever, New York State needs more private sector jobs and a stronger economy," said Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua). "Today's passage of legislation promoting the development of green jobs and green homes will help accomplish both of these goals, while positioning New York as a leader in the emerging clean-energy economy. This initiative is the type of bi-partisan solution that New Yorkers want from their government, as it addresses the urgent need for economic development and private sector job creation, done in an environmentally responsible manner."

"This program will help revive New York's struggling economy while simultaneously protecting our environment," said Cahill (D-Kingston). "By switching to more efficient lighting and lighting systems, programming thermostats, plugging air leaks, using ENERGY STAR fixtures such as furnaces and water heaters, reducing water use and installing thermal solar heat or water systems, we can make a solid investment in our future. New York will take positive, proactive steps in carving out a healthy energy future for our communities."

"Strengthening New York's economy and protecting our environment are our priorities," said O'Mara (R,I,C-Big Flats). "The bi-partisan legislation my colleagues and I approved during today's session will grow our economy, create more jobs and promote the important goals of energy conservation and sustainable growth. This measure is proof of the good that comes when partisan politics are set aside and we collaborate on smart public policies designed to attain a better quality of life for all New Yorkers."

Silver noted that the program will provide workforce development opportunities in underemployed communities and require a comprehensive report back to the governor and legislature after 18 months. The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and New York Power Authority will be authorized, along with the municipal systems they serve, to participate in the project.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will provide $112 million in funding for residential and small business energy-efficiency projects. A revolving loan fund will help commit resources - with no less than 50 percent of capital going to retrofit residential homes with green technology.

"Funds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative along with federal stimulus dollars make this important initiative possible," added Silver. "Even during this economic recession, we will create jobs while also improving the quality of our environment. We are confident that the Green Jobs/Green New York program can serve as a model the rest of the nation."

The program will target areas of New York in which the cost of energy is high in relation to household incomes, as well as areas with high concentrations of emissions and pollution. Specific communities will be selected through a program opportunity notice or another form of competitive solicitation. Applicants will include local community groups in collaboration with contractors and local utilities, including LIPA, and labor and training organizations. An emphasis will be placed on geographic diversity, and preferential funding will be awarded to coalitions that include women- and minority-based businesses as well as groups based in economically distressed communities.

In addition, the Assembly bill directs NYSERDA to include more provisions in its comprehensive home assessment program to establish a sliding scale for payments of audit fees for residential projects. Audit fees may be fully waived for some income qualified homeowners. If a business or residence chooses to do the energy efficiency project or retrofit, any applicable audit costs may be capitalized in the repayment of the retrofit costs.