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Two birds, one stone: How California and New York reduce energy use by creating jobs

July 22, 2011


By: Donna Artusy, Cleantech Law Partners
California has long been a forerunner in the green and clean tech industry: most recently, the Brookings Institution approximated 320,000 people in the state have ‘green jobs’ with 90,000 in the Los Angeles area alone. Nationwide, jobs reach about 2.7 million people so far, which has far surpassed the fossil fuel industry. Other regions ranked with a high number of green jobs includes, Grand Rapids, MI, Chattanooga, TN, and New York City.
New York’s legislature recently passed a pioneering law: the Power NY Act, whose goal is to support the state’s “Green Jobs-Green NY” program. Combined, the outcome of the two is set to outfit “1 million energy efficiency retrofits on houses and businesses” and promote the creation of 14,000 permanent jobs.
If successful, the program will also reduce the gas emission level, equivalent to approximately 1 million cars per year. New York’s Power NY Act will actually finance the retrofitting of homes and businesses upfront, and consumers will repay the state over time through monthly utility bills.
The offset model kicks in here: there is no increase in expenses for consumers because the repayment will be less than monthly energy savings.
Interestingly enough, the Power NY Act was not initially introduced by legislature: it was the result of grassroots organizers supported by the Center for Working Families, the People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH), and the Long Island Progressive Coalition.
Organizers presented the problems facing homeowners who were having difficulty financing their day-to-day living because paying their energy bills “consume[d] about a month’s household income in moderate-income households.”
Thus, not only will there be a decrease in emissions, but also a significant increase of jobs that will help boost the state’s economy.
It certainly seems that the implementation of green jobs serves many purposes, while concurrently decreasing the national debt. Along with the California model, New York will soon become examples for other states to take after.
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