GREEN JOBS-GREEN NEW YORK ACT PASSES SENATE

BILL TO FUND ENERGY EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS TO ONE MILLION HOMES AND BUSINESSES AWAITS GOVERNOR'S EXPECTED SIGNATURE

Contact: Dan Levitan

ALBANY – Working deep into the night, the State Senate passed a major bill championed by the Working Families Party to make energy efficiency upgrades to one million homes and businesses over the next five years.  Called the Green Jobs-Green New York Act, the bill would leverage private investment and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds to make the upgrades. The bill passed the Assembly unanimously in June and now awaits the Governor’s expected signature.

“This bill would put New York on track to become a national leader in energy efficiency,” said Dan Cantor, Working Families Party Executive Director. “Millions of homeowners will get the chance to green their homes and see big energy savings while reducing our carbon footprint.  And all that construction work means tens of thousands of badly needed high-skill, living-wage jobs. It’s a win-win-win.”

The bill’s key innovation is a revolving capital fund, which would use private investment to cover the upfront costs of energy efficiency improvements for homeowners and businesses.  The fund would be repaid through the resulting energy savings, for example, through ratepayers’ utility bills. The bill also provides $112 million in funding from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to cover administration costs and job training programs.

The Working Families Party built an unprecedented statewide coalition of businesses, labor unions, community groups, and environmentalists to lobby the Green Jobs bill.  Senator Darrel Aubertine was the bill’s lead sponsor and tireless champion.

Environmental justice advocates cheered the bill’s focus on economically distressed communities. Elizabeth C. Yeampierre, Executive Director of the UPROSE, a Brooklyn environmental justice organization, said: “Green is great – but we need green for everyone, and that’s what this bill does. By targeting these low-cost retrofits where they’re needed most, New York is making sure working people and economically vulnerable communities see the benefits of green technology.”

Environmentalists hailed the bill’s impact on energy consumption. Ashok Gupta, Air and Energy Program Director at the National Resources Defense Council said: “With buildings using up nearly 30% of the energy in the state, the efficient upgrades made possible by this bill will be a boon for consumers and help make a significant contribution to reducing global warming emissions.”

The idea of creating a statewide revolving loan fund for energy retrofits was first proposed in a policy paper by the Center for Working Families and the Center for American Progress, available here:

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/05/greenjobs_greenhomes.html

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