Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York
The State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
My name is __________. I live at __________.
I write today because _______.
I respectfully request that you allocate at least $2.0 billion from New York's Clean Energy Fund to launch a statewide energy retrofit program that would finance on a 50:50 basis with property owners the low-cost insulation, weatherization and maximization of energy efficiency in homes, businesses, schools, institutions and government facilities using New York's On-Bill Recovery Financing Program.
Energy retrofits can save utility ratepayers billions of hard-earned dollars, reduce statewide energy demand by one-third, minimize consumption of oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels that contribute to global climate change as well as pay for themselves through utility cost savings.
Energy retrofits could be conducted by State-approved workers with modest skills, minimal training and no need for expensive equipment. An energy retrofit workforce could transform New York into the most energy efficient state in the nation and help beleaguered cities, towns and villages get back on their feet after decades of economic decay.
Perhaps more importantly, the proposed statewide energy retrofit program could help New York recover from its current economic challenges caused by a shut-down of all nonessential businesses.
I request that you achieve these goals by implementing the cost-effective proposal outlined below.
New York's On-Bill Recovery Financing Program
New York's little-known and under-utilized On-Bill Recovery Financing Program was established in 2011 "to provide a mechanism to encourage New York homeowners, businesses, not-for-profits, and multifamily building owners to make energy-efficiency improvements to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions."
On-Bill Recovery Financing would allow property owners to benefit from energy retrofits without paying any up-front costs. All payments are made through individual utility bills solely through energy savings. No one's utility bill can go up.
Energy Retrofits Are Cost-Effective and Can Quickly Pay for Themselves
An average residential utility bill in New York is approximately $2,500.00/year. Half of that cost pays for electricity and the other half covers heating.
Single-family homes could be energy retrofitted for approximately $5,000.00 based on economies of scale. This cost would be shared 50:50 by the homeowner and the proposed New York energy retrofit program.
A residential energy retrofit which reduces energy consumption by one-third could save $800.00 annually. The homeowner's financial obligation could be paid off in only three years.
Once energy retrofits are paid for, a residential ratepayer could pocket $800.00 annually. In 25 years, a ratepayer could save $20,000.00 in energy costs.
The proposed $2.0 billion in Clean Energy Funds could pay New York's share of 800,000 home energy retrofits. This funding could build an energy retrofit workforce that could enhance economic activity in every community in our state.
Businesses, institutions and government agencies could similarly save enormous utility costs through the On-Bill Recovery Financing Program, which must be open to all New Yorkers without the labyrinthine bureaucratic hurdles that have hindered the program to date.
Energy Retrofits Could Provide Statewide Economic Benefits
By paying 50% of the cost of energy retrofits, New York could allow tens of thousands of State-approved workers to earn decent wages by revitalizing their communities.
Windows and doors would be weather stripped and glazed to eliminate leaks. Light switches and outlets must be sealed to avoid drafts. Energy efficient lighting and programmable thermostats would be installed along with insulation.
Inexpensive blown cellulose insulation is widely available and can be produced by chopping up recycled newspapers or magazines and mixing in boric acid as a fire retardant. This material has a high insulation R value because it traps air.
New York could generate huge quantities of blown cellulose and provide it at low-cost or no cost to reduce energy retrofit costs as well as solid waste landfilling and incineration fees. Paper is the largest component of solid waste by volume and weight.
Each and every structure in New York could be energy retrofitted over time. For example, Ithaca, NY has approximately 7,500 housing units. If 20 State-approved crews of two workers each conducted two home energy retrofits per week, they could retrofit all the housing units in five years. At that rate, each crew could generate $500,000.00 annually in gross revenue and become a viable small business.
Please note that the proposed energy retrofit program would not conflict with wind and solar development. Even if $2.0 billion in Clean Energy Funds is allocated to support energy retrofits, billions of dollars would remain to expand renewable alternatives.
Minimizing Statewide Energy Demand is Essential to Reducing New York's Fossil Fuels Contribution to Global Climate Change
The proposed statewide energy retrofit program is very likely the only way that New York can significantly reduce its mammoth consumption of fossil fuels.
For more than 40 years, New York has promised to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy alternatives, but wind and solar development has proceeded at a glacial pace ever since global warming first became a worldwide concern.
Despite a wide array of tax incentives and financial benefits, more than 75% of New York's energy generation remains non-renewable because wind and solar alternatives are intermittent, uneconomical and face formidable regulatory and technical implementation barriers.
In 2018, New York's wind energy output was only 2.9152% while its solar energy output was a minuscule 0.8466%. Even worse, the statewide percentage of wind energy actually dropped compared to 2017. Solar energy output only increased 0.0591%.
New York is in a perfect position to adopt the proposed energy retrofit plan because we are the only state in the nation that has not mortgaged its future to fossil fuels.
Under your leadership, New York: a) prohibited shale fracking, b) cut oil and natural gas production after two centuries of heavy pollution and c) denied approvals for more than $5.0 billion in proposed infrastructure projects that would have perpetuated New York's addiction to fossil fuels for decades to come.
I request that you now minimize consumption of natural gas, oil and other fossil fuels used to generate energy. The timing is ideal. Statewide energy demand began decreasing in 2017 and is predicted to diminish in the coming decade. Energy retrofits would accelerate that trend.
As you eloquently stated in your 2016 Statewide Built to Lead Agenda:
"The least expensive and most effective way to meet our state energy goals is simply to reduce the overall energy consumption of New York's homes, businesses, and institutions by making them more efficient. Increasing energy efficiency also lowers utility bills for customers and enables businesses to reduce their operating costs."
Unfortunately, this sensible policy has never been comprehensively implemented. Instead, New York has repeatedly made lofty renewable energy promises that have never been fulfilled.
For example, the recently enacted 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act aims to achieve 70% renewable energy by 2030 and zero greenhouse gas energy production by 2040.
With all respect, this law is unlikely to meet those goals because it will not be implemented for many years and provides no sustained funding, increased authority or any means whatsoever to surmount the barriers that have long thwarted renewable energy development in New York. Executive Order No. 24 adopted in 2009 similarly failed to achieve its ambitious renewable energy goals.
For all these reasons, New York's 10 million housing units should be systematically energy retrofitted in the next 20 to 30 years using a 50:50 combination of private and public funds. This could massively cut New York's fossil fuel contributions to global climate change while allowing an entire generation of energy retrofit workers to rebuild New York.
With that goal in mind, I request that you work with concerned citizens, energy advocates, both houses of the State Legislature, local governments as well as business leaders and non-profit organizations, organized labor, property owners and all other interested parties to implement your sensible and visionary energy efficiency policy proposal by allocating at least $2.0 billion in Clean Energy Funds to launch the statewide energy retrofit program proposed herein.
I trust that you will find this proposal self-explanatory and await your timely response.
Thank you for your consideration, leadership and public service in these extraordinarily troubling times for New York.
cc: Honorable Carl E. Heastie
Honorable Steve Englebright
Honorable Barbara Lifton
Honorable Catherine Nolan
Honorable William A. Barclay
Honorable Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Honorable Todd Kaminsky
Honorable John J. Flanagan
Honorable Donald J. Trump
Honorable Joseph Biden
Honorable Michael Bloomberg