Innovative Energy Efficiency Financing Program Seen As Jobs Engine

President Clinton Lauds New York’s On-Bill Financing Law
September 28, 2011

Albany – Yesterday in a speech on New York’s economic future, former President Bill Clinton spoke at length about New York’s groundbreaking Green Jobs Green New York on-bill recovery law championed Assembly Energy Chair Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster / Dutchess). The President said the energy efficiency financing program has the potential to create thousands of jobs across the state while lowering energy costs for all New Yorkers.

“Giving consumers the ability to finance energy saving projects through their utility bills will present huge job creation opportunities by opening up whole new markets for employers in the building improvement business,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “As a world leader in the fight against climate change, President Clinton has seen the positive economic and environmental ripple effects that come out of large scale investments in energy efficiency.”

Assemblymember Cahill has been leading efforts in the legislature to establish an on-bill recovery program, beginning with the passage of the Green Jobs Green New York Act in 2009. The new law will enhance the Green Jobs Green New York Program by directing NYSERDA to coordinate with electric and gas utilities to offer energy efficiency loans to homeowners and small businesses to be paid back through their utility bills. Individuals that take advantage of this option can obtain upfront financing to make energy efficiency improvements and use the energy cost savings to pay off the loan. Utilities will begin offering the financing option in May of 2012.

"The creation of this program would not have been possible without the hard work of a broad coalition of environmental groups, labor activists, and community based service organizations," said Assemblymember Cahill. "Specifically, I would like to acknowledge the Center for Working Families for their exhaustive advocacy and policy research which made on-bill recovery a reality.”

"Green Jobs/Green NY with on-bill financing is a groundbreaking program to address our state's intertwined problems of joblessness, carbon emissions and economic stagnation. The Center for Working Families is already working with local stakeholders from around the state to heed former President Clinton's call to maximize this tool. With strong job standards and buy-in from institutional lenders, the program will surely pave an economically vibrant path forward for New York. CWF looks forward to working with Assembly Member Cahill to make this happen," said Dave Palmer, Center for Working Families.

“Yesterday former President Clinton highlighted on-bill financing’s potential to create jobs and drive investment in energy efficiency. Retrofitting our homes and businesses saves New Yorkers money on energy costs – money that can then be redirected towards the state’s economic recovery – and is hands down the most cost-effective method for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution from power plants,” said Jackson Morris, Senior Policy Advisor at the Pace Energy and Climate Center. “We again commend the Governor and legislature – and particularly the leadership of Assemblyman Kevin Cahill—for making on-bill financing a reality, and now call on state agencies and utilities to ensure the program is implemented quickly and effectively.”

“Upfront costs are the biggest barrier to residential energy efficiency work. On-bill financing will help eliminate this barrier and bring energy efficiency to moderate income households. My company works in Steve Bellone's Town of Babylon Long Island Green Homes program which leverages a different financing mechanism to eliminate the upfront cost of projects. In the last two years we've retrofitted over 250 homes and created 25 jobs. We’re ecstatic that former President Bill Clinton recognizes the job creation potential of these green financing programs,” said Dan Kartzman, Powersmith.

“As the regions of the state draft economic development plans to move NY forward, we're very excited to hear the call for strengthening the retrofit sector from such a catalytic figure as former President Bill Clinton. A robust retrofit industry maintains New York’s lead at the forefront of the green economy. What we need now are big commitments from financial institutions to unlock the power of on-bill financing,” said Eric Walker, PUSH Buffalo.

The statewide Green Jobs / Green New York Program, administered by NYSERDA, began in December of 2010. It is backed by $112 million in funding from the State's groundbreaking carbon emission cap and trade program, known as RGGI (pronounced REGGIE). As the program moves forward the funds will be used to leverage private investments to make it self sustaining.

Since the program’s rollout NYSERDA has conducted nearly 11,000 free energy audits and contracted over 2,100 projects. As of the end of August, there has been a 22% increase in the number of completed retrofits over the same time last year. The average loan is just over $8,000 for a term of 11 years with a 3.49% interest rate.