Green Jobs Act Promises One Million Building Retrofits in New York

The Green Jobs / Green New York Act (A8901 / S5888), which passed both the New York Assembly and Senate, could be a model for other states.  The legislation sets the goal of implementing energy efficient retrofits in one million buildings over the next five years and creating approximately 14,000 family-sustaining jobs.  Efficiency measures help combat climate change, produce cost savings across the economy, reduce pressures on the electrical grid and provide public health benefits.       

According to Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the Working Families Party, “The key innovation in the bill is a revolving capital fund, which would leverage private investment in energy efficiency to massively increase the use of existing technology”¦. [S]tate certified contractors will perform free or low-cost energy audits for homeowners, looking for repairs and upgrades (like air sealing, insulation, new boilers) that can pay for themselves through the energy savings they create. The work would be paid for by the fund -- homeowners pay it back out of a portion of their energy savings (they pocket the rest, in addition to getting their homes repaired).”

It took a unified coalition consisting of diverse stakeholders such as environmental and local community organizations as well as labor activists, including, but not limited to, the Working Families Party, the Center for Working Families, and the IBEW to move this legislation.  Senator Darrel Aubertine, chair of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said: “By passing the Green Jobs/Green New York Act with bipartisan support we have taken an important step toward improving our economy and helping our environment. This bill encourages conservation, helps consumers with the cost of capital improvements to their homes and businesses, and creates jobs in the new economy. It’s a win-win for New York State.”  According to the New York State Senate:

  • The program will be funded with revenue raised by the auction of carbon emission credits through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (REGGIE).  The bill allocates $112 million from these auctions to the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and those funds will be used to leverage private and federal investments. 
  • Specifically, NYSERDA will establish a revolving loan program to provide up to $13,000 per residential customer to retrofit a home, and up to $26,000 to retrofit each qualifying business.  NYSERDA will also conduct energy audits, program administration and a credit enhancement for critical private sector capital investments. 
  • The program will front the cost of the work, enabling property owners to afford energy efficient retrofits.  Although property owners will repay the full cost over time, their total energy usage will be reduced by 30-40%, providing them with savings greater than their loan payment on their energy bill will be less than what they saved, providing property owners with net savings.
  • In partnership with the NY Department of Labor, NYSERDA will also create workforce training programs throughout the state to ensure that the state’s workforce is highly trained and in place to handle mass-scale retrofitting.  

"This is exactly the type of innovative initiative President Obama envisions when he talks about creating green jobs and the new clean energy economy," said Assemblyman Kevin Cahill. "A successful program here in New York will establish us as a national leader in tackling the tough challenges of climate change and employment opportunities in the 21st Century."


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