Center for Working Families

NY Passes Historic Green Jobs Financing Law!

***News Release***

For immediate release:

June 22, 2011, 11:45PM

Contact:
Dave Palmer, Executive Director, Center for Working Families (917) 482-7251

Emmaia Gelman, Green Economies Strategist, Center for Working Families (917) 517-3627

Chloe Tribich, Communications Director, Center for Working Families (347) 573-0773

NEW YORK PASSES HISTORIC GREEN JOBS FINANCING LAW

“On-bill financing” will create 14,000 jobs, cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy bills for working families

Albany – Lawmakers this evening passed historic on-bill financing legislation to dramatically expand the state’s new energy efficiency retrofitting program, Green Jobs/Green NY. The new law will finally enable moderate-income property owners to access safe loans for retrofits, and use energy savings to repay the loan via their utility bills.

On-bill financing will open the door for NYSERDA, the state’s energy authority, to raise an estimated $5 billion in private investment in the state’s energy economy. Utility bills’ low default rates and strong collections leverage provide unprecedented security for green capital investing in building retrofits.

Green Jobs/Green NY was passed into law in 2009 with the goal of creating 60,000 job years (14,250 full time jobs), substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and making one million homes and buildings more energy efficient – but it did not establish a financing mechanism to pay for the projects. On-bill financing will allow Green Jobs-Green NY to realize these goals.

The effort to pass on-bill financing was lead by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Energy Committee Chair Kevin Cahill and Senators George Maziarz, Kevin Parker and Mark Grisanti.

Dave Palmer, Executive Director of the Center for Working Families which designed both Green Jobs/Green NY and the on-bill financing program, said, “This is a simple and innovative solution to intertwined problems of climate change, joblessness and economic stagnation. It puts New York at the forefront of national efforts for a green economic recovery: We are the first state to implement on-bill financing on a statewide basis, and the first state to find the missing piece: ensuring that households can buy energy efficiency on the same safe terms as energy, and making deep, cost-saving energy upgrades widely available to working people. The Center for Working Families is proud to have led a bipartisan, multi-sector coalition of leaders and advocates to make Green Jobs/Green NY with on-bill financing a reality.”

On-bill financing uses future energy savings to cover the full cost of a state retrofit loan. Property owners will pay back the loan as a line item on their utility bill over time; the monthly repayment will be calibrated to the energy savings so that the loan doesn’t increase the bill. The program will give moderate income property owners access to energy-saving retrofits even if they cannot qualify for traditional bank loans.

By expanding the consumer demand for energy retrofits, on-bill financing will create tens of thousands of jobs in the green contracting sector and related industries like manufacturing and marketing. It will also increase productivity of consumer spending. Data shows that a dollar spent on construction and consumer goods produces two to three times more economic activity than a dollar spent on utility fuel.

The main elements of the on-bill financing legislation had been negotiated in early June. More recently, in the waning days of the legislative session, the Senate moved to linked power plant siting legislation to on-bill financing. The Senate’s move sparked concern from environmental justice advocates and threatened stalemate on important legislation. The Center for Working Families worked closely with all parties to ensure that the siting legislation would protect communities facing disproportionate environmental burdens. The result was two major legislative wins for New Yorkers.

Because of passage of on-bill financing, NYSERDA will be able to efficiently implement Green Jobs/Green NY. The energy authority recently awarded $6 million in outreach funds to community groups, whose success in recruiting customers and jobs depends largely on on-bill financing.

New York’s progress in implementing the Green Jobs/Green NY Act of 2009 is being closely watched by other states eager to replicate a mass-scale green jobs program.

Jackson Morris, Senior Policy Advisor at the Pace Energy and Climate Center, said, “With some of the most inefficient housing stock in the country, New York’s buildings account for over 60 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. By increasing access to energy efficiency programs, on-bill recovery will help achieve carbon reductions from homes, small businesses, and not-for-profits equivalent to removing over one million cars from the road. Enacting this innovative financing mechanism is a major breakthrough for scaling up energy efficiency in New York — policy makers across the nation should take note.”

Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the Working Families Organization, said, “New York’s Green Jobs program is the nation’s most ambitious energy efficiency program. It will lower utility bills for families, improve property values, reduce carbon emissions, and create thousands of living-wage jobs. Any one of these outcomes alone could have been reason enough to pass this common-sense legislation. That we get all of those positive benefits from a single bill – well, that’s bang for your buck. Albany is often maligned as ineffective, and perhaps it is at times. But not today.”

Steve McKenna, Co-Chair of Efficiency First New York, the home performance trade association, said, “On-bill financing overcomes energy efficiency contractors’ biggest barrier to creating jobs: a consumer base that can’t afford to spend money to save money. In some areas of the state, a third of interested customers don’t sign contracts because of lack of financing. This program will unleash the industry’s potential and allow our business members to double, triple or even quadruple the size of their crews.”

Brian Paterson of New Buffalo Impact, an energy efficiency contracting company in Western New York, said, “I am extremely happy that New York has taken the lead in greening its homes and neighborhoods by removing a major barrier to participation that currently plagues our homeowners - the lack of upfront capital needed to make energy improvements in harsh economic times.  The on-bill financing legislation provides a threefold benefit to our community:  It creates jobs, it makes homes affordable and it protects our environment - all at no cost to New York taxpayers.”

John Hutchings, Director of the NYS Laborers Organizing Fund, said “With on-bill financing as a catalyst for high-road green retrofit jobs, LIUNA [Laborers’ International Union of North America] will be seriously ramping up our training programs and our supports for contractors in New York. We’re thrilled to be partnering with community groups and firms from Long Island to Buffalo to build capacity, especially among minority businesses and firms that will hire from communities that were hard hit by unemployment even before the recession. There’s a major economic boost to workers wrapped up in this historic law.”

Eric Walker, Organizing Director of PUSH, a Buffalo-based community group, said, “Homeowners in struggling communities like ours can’t afford sky-high utility bills, yet they’ve been locked out of traditional energy savings programs. On-bill financing will finally allow homeowners to reduce their energy expenses and use their cash for food, school supplies and other essentials.”

Chuck Bell, Programs Director of the Consumers Union, said, “On-bill recovery provides an affordable and convenient way for consumers to finance energy efficiency improvements. The homeowner will be able to finance the energy retrofit they need at a low rate of interest, and use energy bill savings to pay off the loan.” Important utility consumer protections will apply to retrofit loan borrowers, including the right to negotiate payment plans when people fall behind.

Henry Lanier of Forsyth Street Advisors, a financial advising firm focused largely on fund management, publicly-financed real estate and affordable housing, said, “On-bill financing provides a secure lending structure that will allow for significant private capital investment in energy efficiency improvements in single family homes.  Without on-bill financing private investment would be restricted to homeowners with only the highest credit scores and incomes; this new legislation provides the necessary structural support to expand the eligible pool of homeowners.  The passage of on-bill financing legislation is a significant step towards advancing energy efficiency activity — and that is a major achievement for New York State’s economy.”

Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, said, “We thank the Center for Working Families for its leadership in helping to pass on-bill financing and its support for Article X, another piece of environmental legislation that affords strong protections for environmental justice communities that are impacted by power plant siting.”

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The Center for Working Families creates and implements innovative policy ideas to improve the lives of working and low income New Yorkers.

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