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July 21, 2009 @ 9:14 am
U.S.’s Largest Residential Retrofit Program on Backburner

On Thursday yet another program fell victim to recent chaos in the New York Legislature. The measure sought to leverage $5 billion from private investments over five years to pay for energy-efficient renovations by creating a new homeowner financing program. Funds would go towards upgrading windows, insulation and building systems to reduce energy costs by 20%+. Based on projected homeowner savings, investors were to be guaranteed returns of about 7%. Essentially, investors would receive a portion of energy savings until the retrofit costs are repaid over a 10-year period. Stable, predictable returns like this are ideal for city and state pension funds and other institutional investors.

According to this Crain’s article, “The Residential Retrofit Investment Fund would be jumpstarted with $122 million from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative effort by ten Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Worker pay would be pegged at the prevailing wage in the different areas where work will be performed, and contractors would receive preferences for local hiring.”

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Despite bi-partisan Assembly support, The Independent Power Producers of New York are staunchly opposed and want that initial $122 million to be earmarked for self-serving energy projects such as a clean coal plant in Jamestown, NY. Republicans in the Senate were caught up by the fact that the Working Families Party (WFP) is such a major supporter of the plan. A spokesman for the WFP says the initiative remains a priority and will be pushed aggressively when the Senate returns. We shall see; I will keep you posted. Similar municipal programs have gotten off the ground in Babylon, NY and Berkeley, CA but this is the first statewide effort and could serve as a model for the rest of America. 

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