Power NY Act Promises Thousands of Jobs and Help for Homeowners
NEW YORK - Lawmakers have passed a measure that promises to help New York residents improve their homes' energy efficiency while also creating thousands of new construction jobs.
The "Power NY Act of 2011" will allow tens of thousands of New Yorkers to access funding for energy efficiency improvements which will save money on their utility bills, says Emmaia Gelman, green-economies strategist at the Center for Working Families Those upgrades, she says, also will put thousands of New Yorkers to work in construction jobs that can't be outsourced.
"If we can get to our goal of retrofitting a million units of housing and businesses over the next couple of years, then we will be putting to work over 14 thousand people in good, permanent jobs."
Some lawmakers argued the measure does not go far enough in helping to jump-start alternatives such as solar energy.
In addition to helping create thousands of jobs, Gelman says the measure also addresses racial and social inequity issues by ensuring that some new construction jobs go to minorities and young people who live near buildings that will be upgraded.
The state has been without a siting law for large power plants for almost a decade, says Ross Gould, air and energy program director for Environmental Advocates of New York. The Power New York Act addresses that issue, he says, and also corrects some problems from the past.
"New York has had this terrible history of siting dirty power plants in communities of low income, and communities of color. This legislation provides a funding source for local communities to participate in the siting process."
The measure also directs the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to set targets that will limit the amount of smog and climate-change pollution that power plants will be allowed to emit into the air in the near future.
Text of the Power NY Act of 2011 is online at assembly.state.ny.us.