Green Watchdog Touts NY Climate Initiative’s $46 Million In Consumer Energy Savings In New Report
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Helps NY Homeowners Save Energy & Money While Reducing Climate Pollution
(ALBANY, NY)—Environmental Advocates NY today released a new report revealing how homeowners across the state are benefiting from investments made with Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction revenue. The multi-state RGGI was created to reduce climate-altering pollution from power plants. Carbon dioxide credits, also called “allowances,” are traded at auction and resulting auction revenue is invested in energy efficiency and clean energy programs statewide through a variety of programs. The report gives several examples of how RGGI investments are freeing New Yorkers from the burden of their monthly utility bills.
“Contrary to critics, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is not causing New Yorkers’ energy bills to skyrocket,” said Ross Gould, Air & Energy Program Director at Environmental Advocates NY. “Our review of RGGI investments proves that cutting climate-altering power plant pollution benefits New Yorkers’ pocketbooks and will help homeowners save about $46 million on their energy bills over the next decade.”
To date, New York State has raised $362 million from auctioning RGGI allowances. More than $32 million of these RGGI dollars are currently helping homeowners reduce electric bills and invest in weatherization and energy conservation measures, such as sealing air leaks, installing insulation, energy efficient windows, and doors, and mounting solar panels. RGGI investments are also encouraging New Yorkers to install more efficient heating and water heaters. As a result of these investments, New Yorkers will save $46 million on their energy bills while adding value to their homes. Millions of dollars in additional RGGI investments are in the pipeline.
Despite a slow start due to a polluters’ lawsuit, RGGI investments are making New York’s homes more energy efficient. According to the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), $22 million plus investments in energy efficiency will lead to more than twice that amount in annual bill savings for consumers.
RGGI Energy Conservation Efforts
Green Jobs Green New York is subsidizing energy audits for single family, multifamily, small business, and not-for-profit building owners. Green Jobs supported the installation of energy efficiency improvements in 550 homes in the Hudson Valley and Westchester County during 2011. These projects resulted in average annual savings of more than $800 per household. Over the next decade, participating homeowners are projected to save nearly $4.5 million on their utility bills.
The Multifamily Performance Program provides incentives to repair or replace space and water heating systems, insulation, air sealing, and building shell energy efficiency improvements. More than $2,221,000 in RGGI investments have already resulted in 122,193 MMBTu in oil savings, and combined with other energy programs resulted in 3,260,057 kilowatts in electricity savings. That adds up to 10-year utility bill savings of more than $28 million.
The Green Residential Building Program provides incentives to owners of new homes and existing residential buildings renovated to reduce energy use by up to 30 percent. In Rochester, NY, a home builder completed more than 20 RGGI-funded projects built new homes 30 percent more efficient than conventional new home construction thanks to RGGI incentives. The homes received the National Green Building Standard Program’s “Gold Standard,” and feature continuous ventilation systems, tankless water heaters, and highly efficient furnaces.
Empower New York helps low-income New Yorkers cut energy costs by funding energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, blower-door assisted air sealing, and heating systems repair and replacements. To date, NYSERDA has invested more than $550,000 of a planned $3,000,000 in energy education, energy audits, and on-the-spot energy efficiency upgrades in low-income households. These investments are anticipated to save hundreds of dollars a year for those hit hardest by energy prices.
In Watertown, NY, a family used EmPower resources to insulate their attic, seal doorways, install a programmable thermostat, reduce air leakage from recessed lights, repair a bathroom vent, and vent the clothes dryer. The family estimates savings of approximately $670 a year in the cost of home heating oil.
States participating in RGGI (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have implemented the first market-based, mandatory cap-and-trade program in the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.