Green Jobs Act Helps Economy, Environment and Cuts Energy Costs

By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine

Last week the state Senate passed with overwhelming bipartisan support legislation I sponsored to create the Green Jobs/Green New York program to help homeowners and businesses with the upfront costs of weatherization. This legislation will use revenue from the sale of carbon emission credits to fund conservation, train workers to weatherize homes, defray capital costs to make improvements, and save consumers money on their monthly bills.

This is good legislation that will help our economy and our environment. It enables homeowners and businesses to take charge of their energy bills and reduce their costs. Energy conservation is a much talked about, but sometimes difficult strategy to implement. Under this program, the upfront cost of up to $13,000 for homes and $26,000 for businesses is taken care of and in return, home and business owners will see an immediate savings on their monthly energy bills.

The bottom line is that Green Jobs/Green New York will create jobs, save consumers money on their energy bills, reduce carbon emissions and help get our economy back on track. It’s a win-win for New York State, especially Upstate New York where a well-trained workforce will be in demand to keep the heat in and energy bills down every winter. Provisions of the bill require that the funding be spread across the state and targeted to economically distressed communities. Considering median incomes across Upstate, temperatures, and energy costs, I expect to see the benefits of this program right here in Central and Northern New York.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will run the program and join forces with the state Department of Labor to train workers. NYSERDA will also work with groups, right here in our communities, to make sure homes and businesses in our region take advantage of the new program. It will do all this without using New York State taxpayer money. Instead, revenue from the auction of carbon emission credits through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will be used to leverage additional private investment and federal funding.

Using conservative estimates, this will create between 5,000 and 15,000 jobs statewide. Nearly half of those jobs will be in Upstate New York, not counting the jobs we will preserve and create by reducing energy costs for businesses. We could not afford to not pass this bill. In fact, in the days and hours before the vote, I had some great discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and we agreed that a good idea does not need a stamp of approval from one party or another to be a good idea.

Green Jobs/Green New York provided a great opportunity to be environmentally responsible and put New Yorkers back to work. The bill passed 52-8 and soon it will be delivered to the governor. Once he signs it, NYSERDA will get the program started. I am proud to have carried this legislation and I am especially proud to say that we were able to pass it by putting people ahead of politics.