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NYSERDA teams with utilities on energy efficiency for low-income residents

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will team with the state’s investor-owned utilities on a new framework to increase access to energy efficiency and clean energy solutions for low- to moderate-income households and affordable multifamily buildings.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative last week, noting that the collaboration and investments made as part of the initiative will result in cleaner and healthier indoor air and more affordable energy options for more than 350,000 low- to moderate-income (LMI) households statewide.

The framework, submitted to the state Department of Public Service, will more than double the number of low-income households and multifamily buildings receiving energy efficiency services such as insulation, air sealing, electric load reduction and HVAC improvements annually, as well as increase outreach, education and community-based support programs for energy efficiency improvements.

“As we continue our fight against climate change, we must ensure that all New Yorkers have access to clean energy and are not left behind in the transition to a green economy, particularly those in our most vulnerable communities who most directly feel the harmful impacts of climate change and environmental degradation,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This groundbreaking public-private partnership is a smart and innovative approach that will bring affordable, clean energy solutions directly into the homes of those who need them most, and make the lives of all New Yorkers safer and healthier.”

LMI households are disproportionately impacted by energy costs, with many experiencing an annual energy burden exceeding 20 percent of their household income.

The statewide framework will invest nearly $1 billion through 2025 to advance energy efficiency in the LMI market segment including:
• More than $300 million to reduce energy burdens by increasing access to energy efficiency for LMI homeowners and renters;
• More than $500 million to improve energy efficiency in affordable multifamily buildings;
• $45 million for community-level engagement and capacity building with community-based organizations; and
• $30 million for developing clean heating and cooling solutions for LMI homes and buildings through research and analysis of institutional barriers and funding of pilots and demonstrations.

The framework filed July 27 includes a substantial increase in funding for low- to moderate-income energy efficiency and outlines a comprehensive strategy between NYSERDA and the state’s investor-owned utility companies including Central Hudson, Con Edison, National Fuel Gas, National Grid, New York State Electric & Gas/Rochester Gas & Electric and Orange & Rockland, with expanded funding in 2020 and new and modified programs beginning next year.

The new initiatives are expected to increase market demand and create new opportunities for clean energy workers. Through the Clean Energy Fund, NYSERDA will offer a range of workforce development and training opportunities.

Statewide, 3.2 million households, or 40 percent of residents, qualify as LMI, with incomes at or below 80 percent of their area’s median income. Buildings account for 45 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from fuel combustion and electric generation in the state, officials noted.

NYSERDA also is offering $10 million in funding through Green Jobs – Green New York to support a Loan Loss Reserve Program prioritizing lending to support green jobs and lending for energy efficiency and renewable energy in communities across the state. The pilot program will have a direct benefit to underserved borrowers by reducing the risk for community-based Financial institutions that loan money for energy efficiency improvements installed in residential and multifamily buildings, as well as in buildings used by small businesses and not-for-profits.

“Today’s announcement marks an important progression in a series of actions the state is taking to ensure no New Yorker, regardless of income, is denied access to energy efficiency services that provide more comfortable, clean and healthy living environments,” said NYSERDA Acting President and CEO Doreen Harris. “Our investment underscores the laser focus we have in advancing New York’s just and equitable transition to a carbon-neutral economy under Gov. Cuomo’s leadership.”

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