What if we could help stop global warming, save homeowners
on their utility bills, and create thousands of badly needed jobs too?
It’s not a far-off fantasy, it’s the power of the green
economy. And thanks to Albany’s
leadership, New York
is set to become a national (and global)
leader in harnessing green technology -- and making sure its benefits are enjoyed
The landmark Green Jobs-Green New York bill signed by
Governor Paterson this morning in Syracuse, is based on a simple idea: set up a
statewide fund to help homeowners and small business owners with the upfront
costs of making energy-saving renovations and repairs, like fixing insulation
problems or replacing an inefficient boiler.
Then, use part of the energy savings to pay the fund back and help
finance repairs for the next home or business.
Using the power of energy savings to pay for itself means
reaching far more homes and small businesses than current energy programs
allow. And taking away the burden of upfront
costs means the benefits of green technology will finally be accessible to working
For an older state like New York, the number of existing residential
and commercial buildings that can be upgraded for energy efficiency is huge. The program could reach an estimated one million
homes and small businesses across the state in the next five years -- that’s
nearly one in seven existing homes.
For homeowners and small businesses, energy efficiency improvements mean an immediate
savings on utility bills ("retrofitting" a home can cut energy consumption by as much as 30 to 40%). For rest of us it means a cleaner
environment. With 40% of New York’s carbon
emissions coming from the energy we use in our buildings, the Green Jobs-Green
New York program could help make a major dent in our state’s carbon footprint.
One million home and small business upgrades also means new
construction work and lots of new jobs; more than 14,000 jobs in the first five years of the program, according to
estimates by the Center for American Progress and the Center for Working
Families. To meet that new demand, the
Green Jobs bill will help train thousands of New Yorkers with the skills
they’ll need to take part in the green economy, with a focus on communities across the state hardest
hit by the recession.
Using funding from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative –
the Northeast’s regional cap and trade program and leveraging private investment, the best
part about the Green Jobs-Green New York program is that it won’t contribute to
the state’s budget deficit.
Put it all together and it’s a great example of how
progressive policy can make a real difference. It’s also a testament to what
happens when a broad coalition comes to together around a good idea. The Working Families Party was a big
supporter of the Green Jobs bill, but we were just one part of a team that
included contractors, labor unions, community organizers, environmentalists,
Together with Governor Paterson and legislative leaders
(both Democrats and Republicans), that
coalition helped put together innovative legislation that we hope will be a
model for other states.
Follow Dan Cantor on Twitter: www.twitter.com/workingfamilies