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
- 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.