60,000 high quality jobs for New York State residents

Authors: Clarke Gocker, Green For All Fellow Candidate After being signed into law in late 2009 by then Governor David Paterson, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) finally launched the initial phases of an innovative new statewide residential energy efficiency program called Green Jobs/Green NY (GJGNY) this past fall. The program seeks to weatherize 1 million homes in 5 years and create 60,000 high quality jobs for New York State residents. It is being funded by revenue from the sale of CO2 emission allowances as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap-and-trade program. Residents earning up to 200% of area median income can currently receive free or reduced-cost energy assessments from BPI-accredited home performance contractors and can finance energy efficiency upgrades through a low interest loan product being offered by NYSERDA. Several of the more progressive and transformative program elements that will make GJGNY standout as a truly innovative model to scale up the home performance industry and put people to work have yet to be implemented. Therefore, opportunities exist for continued public engagement and grassroots mobilization around these critical issues. As a Green for All Fellow candidate and staff member with People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo) in Buffalo, NY, I am helping to lead local and statewide organizing efforts involving coalitions of responsible contractors, training organizations, and workers. These GJGNY coalitions are focused on the following set of issues: A. Implementing a community-based GJGNY program model capable of driving unprecedented customer demand and putting people to work
  1. Transforming the market for energy efficiency improvements using innovative outreach strategies and financing tools;
  2. Training a new and incumbent workforce for family sustaining career pathway jobs;
  3. Connecting disadvantaged and disenfranchised communities to training pipelines and employment opportunities with local contractors and businesses;
  4. Reducing barriers to entry for building trades unions interested in partnering with contractors and community groups on high road workforce agreements;
  5. Expanding the base of certified and accredited women and minority-owned contractors able to participate in energy efficiency programs administered by New York State; and (6.) Broadening the scope of work that is eligible for GJGNY financing to include health and environmental hazard remediation and abatement that adheres to a Green and Healthy Homes approach.
PUSH Buffalo is working closely with other statewide stakeholders, including the Center for Working Families, to achieve these objectives and recently submitted a proposal to NYSERDA to perform customer outreach and coordinate workforce development in the GJGNY program following a community-based implementation model that will deliver community workforce benefits. B. Advocating for passage of landmark state legislation that would create an on-bill recovery financing mechanism If passed, on-bill recovery will allow GJGNY customers to finance energy efficiency retrofits directly on their utility bill using the energy savings generated after eligible measures are installed. On-bill recovery would eliminate the upfront financial costs of participating in the GJGNY program and would substantially reduce the economic risks to moderate income households (60% - 120% of area median income) that have difficulty accessing safe and affordable credit or that continue to be targeted by predatory financial institutions pedaling high risk consumer loan products. Consumer advocates are now joining home performance contractor trade associations, community-based stakeholders, and working families across New York State in the fight to win a legislative mandate for on-bill recovery. These groups are planning coordinated community mobilization events - town hall meetings and rallies - for early April, 2011 to raise public awareness and popular support for this issue, and to call on state legislators and the governor to work together to get this legislation enacted. For more information about on-bill recovery and related advocacy efforts in New York State please visit: http://makegreenjobsreal.com/

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