Our guest blogger is Dan Levitan of the New York Working Families Party.
In the early hours of September 10th, the New York 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. The Green Jobs-Green New York Act will 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. The program created by this bill will create an estimated 14,000 living wage jobs. The key innovation is a revolving capital fund, which would leverage private investment in energy efficient to massively increase the use of existing technology.
Here’s how it will work:
— State-certified contractors would perform free or low-cost energy audits for homeowners, looking for repairs and upgrades (air sealing, insulation, new boilers, etc.) that can pay for themselves through energy savings in an 8 – 10 year window.
– The work is paid for by the Green New York fund, and homeowners pay the fund over time back out of a portion of their energy savings. They pocket the rest, plus get their homes repaired.
Compare this to the current situation:
— A homeowner has to independently do the research to find a contractor they trust to perform an energy audit, pay for it themselves, and then pay the upfront costs of the repair — without support from lenders or energy providers.
For a cold, old state like New York, the number of existing residential and commercial buildings that can be upgraded is huge — we estimate the program could reach one in seven existing homes. It’s a great example of how market failure can be solved through progressive policy.
And none of it would have been possible without the policy work done by the Center for American Progress along with the Center for Working Families.