News from Better Buildings NY & Renewable Heat Now
For more information contact: Marissa Solomon, 734-330-0807, firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBANY, NY (12/08/2022) (readMedia)– This week, a letter was delivered to Governor Kathy Hochul signed by more than 200 organizations from across New York asking the Governor to advance her 2022 commitment to 2 million climate-friendly homes by 2030 with legislation and funding in her executive budget. The diverse organizations, which collectively represent tens of thousands of New Yorkers, include leading climate advocacy, energy policy, housing, consumer protection, faith-based, and building performance organizations. Together, they call on Governor Hochul for a rapid, equitable, and affordable energy transition and a long-overdue investment in New York’s buildings.
The letter calls on the governor to include in her executive budget key provisions from five different bills addressing energy transition and affordability and to designate funding needed to overcome the barriers to weatherization, electrification, and healthy housing.
Members of the press and the public are invited to learn more at this webinar: Teach-In: “Activating Equitable Building Decarbonization in New York: Opportunities for Funding & Advocacy” on Thursday, December 8th at noon.
“Gas is only getting more expensive. But the All-Electric Buildings Act and Gas Transition and Affordable Energy Act will save New Yorkers money and help us meet the climate mandates set forth in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Governor Hochul can make New York a nation-leader for affordable, clean energy by including these important measures in her executive budget,” said Richard Schrader, New York Legislative and Policy Director, NRDC.
“New Yorkers are struggling to keep pace with skyrocketing rent and utility costs driven by the intersection of the climate and housing crises, particularly communities of color which shoulder a disproportionate burden of these challenges due to a legacy of structural and environmental racism,” explained Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Prioritizing this legislation will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, of which our homes are one of the leading sources, as well as reduce utility costs, improve energy efficiency, and address public health hazards like lead and mold so all New Yorkers can live in healthy, affordable, and environmentally sustainable homes.”
Laurie Wheelock, Executive Director with the Public Utility Law Project, said “PULP is deeply concerned about New Yorker’s ability to pay their bills with high energy prices and the coldest winter months ahead. Having the State step up right now to expand existing processes and streamline others will be a fast and efficient way to lower energy burdens and ensure that every New Yorker is receiving the benefits to which they are entitled. And at the same time, the State needs to take action to support clean and healthy homes for every New Yorker.”
Jessica Azulay, Executive Director of Alliance for a Green Economy, said: “Governor Hochul has an incredible opportunity right now to push forward a set of policies that will reduce energy costs, improve housing, and tackle climate change. Environmental, consumer, and housing groups are all coming together to support this agenda to stop costly fossil fuel expansion and fund investments that will make people’s homes more comfortable, safer, and more affordable.”
Betta Broad, Director of Advocacy and Organizing at the Association for Energy Affordability, said “The time is now to scale up investments in health and safety and pre-electrification measures, as we work towards the state’s goal of 2 million climate-friendly homes by 2030. By leading the charge to change our Public Service Laws so that we’re not subsidizing gas expansion and instead investing in weatherization and electrification, Governor Hochul will help make the transition to clean energy affordable and equitable, and will improve the lives of everyday New Yorkers.”
Nicole Abene, Senior NY Legislative & Regulatory Manager at the Building Decarbonization Coalition, said “By implementing this suite of policies to complement the commitment to 2 million climate-friendly homes by 2030, Governor Hochul can leave a lasting legacy of improving housing for millions of New Yorkers, while protecting energy affordability and reducing pollution. These practical solutions to upgrade New York’s buildings are a critical step on the path to decarbonization.”
Cara-Leigh Battaglia, CEO, BPCA-NYS, Inc. said, “Governor Hochul’s climate-friendly leadership has NY poised to become a role model. With the commitment to achieve 2 million climate-friendly homes by 2030, however, these efforts will require additional legislation and funding in the executive budget. There are practical business, consumer and economic obstacles to achieving these goals effectively, ranging from energy equity to trade workforce pipeline accessibility, as well as a growing contradiction between policy and practice. Policy and practice must meet if we are to achieve these goals. Right now there is a window where the Governor’s support is critical to re-envision policy, reduce costs, and improve efficiency in directly helping to ensure these policy-level opportunities reach the general public as actual solutions.”
Lisa Marshall, Advocacy and Organizing Director at New Yorkers for Clean Power said, “As New York’s Climate Action Council is finalizing the state’s climate plan, it is time to turn our attention to implementation. New Yorkers will need assistance overcoming existing barriers to weatherizing and electrifying their homes. The good news is, investing in buildings has immediate benefits for health, safety, comfort and energy costs for the occupants while preparing for a fully decarbonized future.”
The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
December 6, 2022
Dear Governor Hochul:
We, the undersigned organizations, are committed to a rapid transition off of fossil fuels. We applaud your landmark 2022 commitment to 2 million climate-friendly homes by 2030, including 800,000 low-to-moderate income households. Now we urge you to marshal the resources and policies needed to realize that commitment and put New York on the path to electrify 90% of buildings by 2050 while prioritizing the most vulnerable communities for healthy, affordable housing and energy, as well as good, green jobs.
Below we detail items for your State of the State and Executive Budget that will enable you to:
- Launch initiatives to overcome the barriers to weatherization, electrification, and healthy housing
- Fund programs that cover all building types, protect against rising housing costs, leverage federal funds, and meet the emissions reductions mandates of the CLCPA
- Protect New York from rising energy costs and the climate crisis by ending fossil fuel expansion, simplifying existing utility financial assistance programs, and ensuring that New Yorkers don’t spend more than 6% of their monthly income on their energy bills
New Yorkers face an energy affordability crisis exacerbated by fossil fuel price increases and volatility, aging housing stock, and burgeoning costs of gas infrastructure. In particular, Black, Indigenous, and New Yorkers of color have experienced decades of community harm from redlining, gentrification, and inequitable access to home energy improvements. This legacy manifests in deferred maintenance, environmental health hazards, and energy-inefficient buildings. Although there are some helpful state and federal programs, New York does not offer an easily accessible, comprehensive package of programs and policies to address these challenges, and many residents and building owners are unable to navigate the disaggregated programs that do exist.
With finalization of the CLCPA Scoping Plan scheduled for December and the unprecedented infusion of federal resources under the Inflation Reduction Act – including EPA’s $5 billion Climate Pollution Reduction Grants, and the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, along with New York’s share of HOMES Whole House Energy Efficiency Rebates of $4.3 billion, and the $4.275 billion for High-efficiency Electric Home Rebates – New York has an opportunity to launch a comprehensive approach to delivering healthy, climate-friendly affordable buildings to all residents.
We urge you to include the following proposals in your Executive Budget to put our state in the best position to leverage these funds:
Launch initiatives to overcome barriers to weatherization, electrification, and healthy housing
- Create a Green Affordable Pre-Electrification (GAP) Fund for Low-to-Moderate Income households to achieve your commitment to 2 million climate-friendly homes. This fund will improve living conditions, reduce energy costs and enable disadvantaged communities to prepare for electrification. The GAP Fund would include tenant protections and address barriers to electrification that are not covered by other programs, such as deferred maintenance, hazard remediation, electrical upgrades, weatherization, energy efficiency, and an all-electric replacement for fossil fuel appliances at the end of their useful life.
- Support a whole home retrofit approach by streamlining access to state energy programs and incentives and strengthening NYSERDA’s Regional Clean Energy Hubs. Fund statewide technical assistance and additional staff focused on connecting residents to other programs that fund hazard remediation (lead, asbestos, mold, pests, etc.), structural maintenance (roof repair, etc.), and other improvements needed to enable weatherization and electrification.
- Direct the New York Green Bank to establish affordable financing for pre-electrification and electrification. New Yorkers need access to up-front funds to upgrade their buildings and take advantage of the tax credits, rebates, and incentives provided through the IRA and utility programs. The Green Bank should work in partnership with NYSERDA to pair grant and loan funds to provide 0% interest loans to low-to-moderate income households and low-interest loans to all other households.
Fund programs to cover all building types, protect against rising energy and housing costs, leverage federal funds, and meet the emissions reductions mandates of the CLCPA
- The revamp of the “New Efficiency: New York” program by the Public Service Commission must be funded at a level that meets the state’s efficiency and electrification goals, pursue all cost-effective energy efficiency measures, and eliminate rebates for fossil fuel appliances.
- Develop electrification programs that include strong tenant protections, including limiting rent increases to 3% annually, and cover all building typologies, including public housing.
Protect New York from rising energy costs and the climate crisis by including language from the following bills:
- All-Electric Building Act (S6843C|A8431B of 2022) – modernizes building codes to require new buildings to be all-electric and highly efficient, starting in 2024 with buildings under 7 stories and by 2027 for larger buildings.
- Gas Transition and Affordable Energy Act (S8198|A9329 of 2022) – eliminates subsidies for new gas hookups (the “100 foot rule”), enables neighborhood scale building decarbonization by eliminating the “obligation to serve” gas, and addresses operating costs by ensuring no household pays more than 6% of their income for energy.
- Energy Efficiency, Equity, and Jobs Act (S3126C|A3996C of 2022) – deploys funding for cost-saving energy efficiency retrofits where they are most needed- in low-income communities and communities of color. Allows NYSERDA to fund non-energy measures like lead and mold remediation to remove barriers to efficiency upgrades in older homes and ensures that the workers hired for energy efficiency upgrades come from disadvantaged communities.
- Automatic Data Matching (S8362A|A9099A of 2022) – ensures that all eligible low-income households are automatically enrolled in electric/gas companies Energy Affordability Programs, which provide much needed monthly bill assistance to lower energy costs.
- Modifications to the Home Energy Assistance Program (“HEAP”) (S9578 of 2022) and Emergency HEAP (S8361|A9121) – authorizes the automatic re-enrollment of eligible low-income households into energy assistance programs and establishes an emergency heating energy assistance program, respectively.
Thank you for your consideration of these recommendations. We look forward to continuing to work with you to make historic investments to improve our living conditions, health, economy, and climate.
BBNY is a network of organizations working for the equitable decarbonization of homes and buildings in New York State. We are committed to environmental justice and a just transition to all-electric homes and buildings.
Renewable Heat Now is an education and advocacy campaign organized by more than 20 organizations dedicated to accelerating the adoption of ground-source (geothermal) and air source heat pumps in New York to reduce the fossil fuel emissions from our homes and workplaces.