Bill Memo: Expanding the Energy Efficiency Workforce
This bill amends the public service law by adding a new section 66-q which will require the Public Service Commission to establish an energy efficiency program for utilities to expedite the adoption of energy efficiency measures, and to promote hiring and training of individuals in disadvantaged communities. This bill also amends the energy law by adding section 5-123, which will require NYSERDA to implement the energy efficiency programs in environmental justice communities.
This bill will help New York achieve emissions reductions goals by establishing an energy efficiency program for utilities to implement within environmental justice communities. Communities will further benefit from this bill as it requires program funds for job training and employment opportunities to serve those living within environmental justice communities.
In 2019 New York became the national leader on climate change by passing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which set an aggressive target of 85% reduction of greenhouses gas emissions by 2050. Reducing greenhouse gases will directly benefit communities by decreasing the amount of harmful pollution in the air. Communities of color, low income communities and immigrant communities have historically faced the worst impacts of air pollution, with people of color experiencing 66% more air pollution than white residents. Fortunately, the State is taking steps towards reducing emissions and one of the near term and affordable ways to limit pollution is by upgrading buildings through energy efficiency and weatherization. This bill will not only help reduce emissions and energy bills, but will do so in environmental justice communities, ensuring that vulnerable communities are not left behind in the transition to renewable energy.
Another benefit of reducing emissions through energy efficiency upgrades is that these programs put people to work. During the financial crisis spurred by COVID-19, 1 million New Yorkers lost their jobs, roughly 10% of the state workforce. By establishing an energy efficiency program and requiring the job training and employment opportunities to be filled by people within the environmental justice communities, those who are most in need of employment will be provided opportunities to get back to work. Reaching emissions reduction goals and prioritizing disadvantaged communities can both be done while getting New Yorkers back to work, and this bill can help achieve that.
The Climate Justice Working Group (CJWG), created by the CLCPA, is currently undergoing a process to define and identify disadvantaged communities throughout the state. This legislation would be strengthened by ensuring the definition of ‘potential environmental justice areas of concern’ aligns with the work of the CJWG.
Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Beneficial
Memo #: 20