The state of New York will invest $800 million in government buildings to reduce energy consumption 20% by 2016.
To finance the projects, the New York Power Authority will issue debt, which will retrofit state buildings ($450 million) and local government, schools and public hospitals ($350 million).
Retrofits will not only decrease energy demand, but will create thousands of green jobs, keep money circulating in the local economy, and free up resources for essential services.
The debt will be paid back through energy efficiency savings.
Last month, Chicago announced a similar initiative costing $225 million.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Results
In related news, NY homeowners will see $46 million in savings on energy bills over the next 10 years thanks to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), says a report by Environmental Advocates of New York.
NY’s revenue from the cap-and-trade program is $362 million to date, and the state is using the money to increase efficiency.
Programs funded through RGGI:
Green Jobs Green New York subsidizes energy audits for single family, multifamily, small business, and non-profit building owners, and provides rebates for energy upgrades. Participating homeowners are projected to save nearly $4.5 million on their utility bills over the next decade.
Multifamily Performance Program provides incentives for energy upgrades in multifamily homes. Over $2 million has been invested with 10-year utility bill savings of $28 million.
Green Residential Building Program provides incentives to owners of new homes and existing residential buildings to cut energy use 30%.
Empower New York helps low-income New Yorkers cut energy costs by funding energy efficiency improvements. NYSERDA has invested $550,000 of a planned $3 million in energy education, energy audits, and efficiency upgrades.
RGGI has added $1.6 billion in economic value and 16,000 jobs for its 10 state members since the country’s first mandatory cap-and-trade program began in 2008. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by placing a cap on the carbon they can emit and allowing them to trade allowances.
RGGI states have cut greenhouse gas emissions 20% faster than the rest of the country, even as the region’s gross product per capita grew 87% faster, according to A Record of Leadership: How Northeastern States Are Cutting Global Warming Pollution and Building a Clean Economy.
Unfortunately, the program is under attack by right-wing Koch Brother and oil industry- backed groups, such as Americans for Prosperity. New Jersey pulled out last year after an Americans for Prosperity campaign, but legislative attempts to force New Hampshire, Delaware and Maine to exit have failed.
Six of the top 10 states for energy efficiency are in the Northeast, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. They have set ambitious energy efficiency goals, created innovative energy efficiency “utilities,” helped drive the federal government to adopt new energy efficiency standards for appliances, and are among the leaders in implementation of strong building energy codes.
Here’s the report, A Record of Leadership: